Covid Office Christmas PartyNatalie Lewis
Can we have an office Christmas Party this year?
This question has been haunting me for the last few weeks with my clients and other business owners contacting me, eager to reward their staff for what has been a challenging year.
I’m a big believer in rarely saying no. To me there’s a solution to every problem. So in light of that, I’ve been helping clients plan their celebrations.
The office Christmas party is often something that is planned well in advance, with our teams looking forward to it for months. However, as we know, this year is a little different.
From remote working to the rule of six, there are lots of ways that our lives have had to change and these changes have made the Covid company Christmas party a lot more difficult to pull off.
Traditionally held at a venue with lots of drinks, food and music, if you’re in a higher tier, venues won’t be open for office Christmas parties. Even those in lower tiers, social meeting-ups are not allowed this winter (check the rules in your area).
So what do we do?
Let me tell you now, outright cancelling of all celebrations will not be the best option for team morale, especially, as we are all facing limited Christmas celebrations in general.
How can we celebrate the Covid office Christmas party, safely?
I ran a poll on LinkedIn last week to gauge the feelings of my followers. 15% said that they’d be ignoring all rules and having a party anyway. 33% said they’d be having a virtual party. 7% voted for having a socially distanced party and the rest (45%) were sending a gift to staff instead.
For the record, I cannot endorse not following the rules in your area by breaching the rules and having a party anyway. Should any of your staff come down with the virus, you may be prosecuted.
For those who want to keep safe and still do something, here are some of my ideas for a Covid office Christmas party.
Live-streamed office party
I know we are all Zoomed out but … One client’s company has decided to run a panto-style show team written sketches and songs (no doubt full of in-jokes/banter), mastermind-style quizzes and fun awards for team members. They’ll be sending their team members a meal and snacks they can prepare at home, along with a gin, cocktail or mulled wine making kit.
Socially Distanced Secret Santa
I have one client whose team would usually be treated to a day of exchanging presents and playing games, followed by a night out. Again, this year they are going for the virtual option, although the presents will be real. Each employee will have a Christmas treat box and a Secret Santa present delivered through the post.
Covid Secure Office Party
Firstly let me get the boring stuff out of the way – this is the most risky option in terms of virus spread and I’d urge you to only consider this if you’re in tier 1 or 2. You’ll need a risk assessment and agreement with your team for this style of Covid office Christmas party.
But as long as you’d done the boring bit and depending on how much space you have in your office, it could be possible to hold a Covid-secure party.
This would mean potentially bringing in caterers or creating individual ‘picnic’ hampers and having a socially distanced party in your existing office. Covid-secure rules would need to be followed closely so include wipes and hand sanitiser for each person and limit alcohol so that things don’t get out of hand. Buffet food shouldn’t be provided as it’s too difficult to prevent cross-contamination.
Maybe add in distanced awards, charades and maybe fancy dress. As long as your activities allow for everyone to be stood or sat 2 metres away, I reckon this could work in all but tier 3.
Virtual Cocktail Party
This is another idea being bounced around by a couple of clients – maybe set up a virtual mixology lesson and send out the kits beforehand, along with some snacks and fun props.
Could you set up a drive-in event of your own or join in with a professionally arranged drive-in event?
The government are telling us that outdoor events are safest (remembering the rule of 6) so if you’re a micro-business you could quite easily set something up outside in tier 1/2. Tier 3 is a no-go.
If the Covid office Christmas party is totally off the table, I’d urge you to at least send your staff a gift or something to say ‘thank you’. If you’re strapped for cash, you can still send cards at least. Speak to your accountant but in most cases, there is a small budget for sending gifts which are tax-deductible.
We’re going to have to work harder this year to keep the morale of our staff up.
Whatever you do, please stay safe whilst you’re enjoying yourselves.
It goes without saying, if you need a sounding board for your office Christmas party plans, give me a call or drop me a message.
P.s. I wrote a blog a few years ago on advice for running Christmas parties – it’s worth still reading, even though it was assumed back then that we could meet face to face! Who would have thought 2020 would be such a strange year!