Tips for throwing a remote office holiday party

Written by 
Hailey Temple
December 2, 2020

It’s still hard to believe that for many of us around the world, in-person holiday parties and team happy hours are likely canceled this year as we strive to keep everyone safe. So, is it possible to bring your teams together in appreciation during “holiday party season” and still build the same sense of camaraderie and enthusiasm for everything your company needs to tackle in 2021? Yes! And it’s not too late to start planning a fun, remote company event.

As a remote-first company, MURAL doesn’t just offer digital collaboration solutions — we live and breathe them. That includes continuously working to foster collaboration among our own team members spread across several countries and timezones. So, we’re here to help you avoid any more “Zoom fatigue” and have awesome office holiday parties — or even company-wide virtual retreats — wherever your team may be.

Combine a digital get together with an surprise gift delivery

Just as it’s important to think of before-during-after when planning a successful workshop, think of the full experience you want to give colleagues during the holiday season. How can you get them excited to participate in your digital event, and what do you want them to reflect on over the holidays?

If you have the budget from an in-person cocktail party to spend, redirect it so employees receive a special surprise in the mail. It brings a tangible moment to the festivities. Get creative (and think regionally) on delivery ideas! This month our U.S. employees all received a surprise pie ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, and we sent individual appetizer plates to accompany a happy hour for our teams in Latin America. It definitely breaks the ice to be literally sharing the same foods or beverages at the start of a virtual meeting.

Services like DoorDash for local food and Knack for gifts make it possible to send something special wherever your team is located.

Build a holiday party volunteer team

Culture can’t be built by just one person. Building a holiday party facilitation team can take the work off one central person and also make it a more inclusive and engaging event. If your volunteers aren’t familiar with remote facilitation, we have lots of tips for improving your skills in our Remote Facilitation Guidebook. Having a whole team behind your event means you’ll be prepared for things like an internet glitch, where your primary facilitator has technical difficulties.

Designate roles for each facilitator to help throughout the party. Just as you would have people at your in-person parties to greet guests, DJ the music, and make sure everyone has a drink in hand, you need those roles in your virtual scene. Here are a few of the roles I recommend assigning:

  • IT supporter to troubleshoot any access issues
  • Virtual DJ to play music in your videoconference call
  • Screen capture photographer/videographer to capture notes, memories, and fun
  • A channel (and dedicated channel “hosts”) to manage conversations and logistics outside of the meeting, like Slack or Teams
  • Depending on the activities, a timekeeper to help maintain the flow
👉 Learn how MURAL used these tips to plan a virtual company retreat in less than two weeks. ✈️

Tailor activities to your company cultures (and timezones!)

It’s hard to start natural conversations when you have large groups of people on a video call. That’s why I recommend adding MURAL’s collaboration features into your holiday planning. MURAL has a lot of engaging energizer and icebreaker templates that can be combined and customized to build a digital party that has no uncomfortable video call silence. For our own internal events, we’ve recently done activities like a coordinated marching band routine with 200+ people and get-to-know-your-team Jeopardy for a marketing function.

Consider organizing a series of breakout activities so people can self select what sounds most appealing to them. Some people will want to do more physical activities (like charades or seat dancing to a DJ) while others will prefer more cameras-off activities. Incorporating asynchronous activity options can bring people together who don’t normally get to interact. As a casual example, we recently started a “watercooler chat” mural where folks can drop by to share their movie/TV recommendations throughout the month.

If you’re planning a lot of activities, consider building out an agenda or brainstorming activity suggestions using MURAL. Our friends at the Never Done Before Festival have a great example of a global agenda here.

Get creative with templates for your holiday party activities

Here are four of MURAL’s most popular templates for online energizers and icebreakers that you can adapt for a company or team gathering:

  • Where are we? Use a prompt to generate sharing and discussion, like "Think about an adventure you had in your life. It could be around the corner or on the other side of the world. What happened in this adventure? Where were you?”
  • The broken telephone template asks folks to pay attention to what everyone is drawing and saying. See how close teams can get to the original prompt.
  • The Jeopardy template lets you create custom quizzes about colleagues or your company history and makes it interactive. Assign teams and start answering questions.
  • Marching Band lets your teammates work together to create shapes and letters using fun avatars.

👉 Looking for a holiday favorite to help your remote guests get into the holiday spirit? Try this White Elephant template courtesy of Booz Allen. Get step-by-step instructions for how to build your own White Elephant mural from Ivan Kuo, innovation specialist at Booz Allen:

Co-create a team holiday card

Show your customers, clients, and colleagues that you care with a personalized appreciation card. Put on some festive music and bring your team together to collaborate on a mural that shows off your team culture and lets others know you’re thinking of them. No need to be a designer to co-create, just start a mural to work together in and show your team’s unique personality. Let our Customer Success Team’s holiday card from a previous year inspire you.

Once you build your card, you can publish the mural as a template and share it with your co-workers. They’ll love you for helping them spread the holiday cheer and saving them time building virtual cards. Here’s another holiday example where we used Sticky Notes to create a festive design — no drawing skills required.

Hope some of these ideas help inspire your remote holiday party planning. I’d love to see how you’re using MURAL to bring your teams together this holiday season. Please share by tagging us on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter so we can celebrate with you and share your brilliant ideas with others.

Happy Holidays from the MURAListas!

About the authors

About the authors

Hailey Temple

Hailey Temple

Hailey is a Services Lead at MURAL. She's a creative problem solver who is passionate about making collaboration happen anywhere.

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