How to plan your office Christmas party in 2020

The ‘most wonderful time of the year’ will surely look different in 2020. While your office Christmas party will undoubtedly require some alterations this year, there are always ways to show your employees that you care and bring some holiday cheer says Toby Heelis, CEO of Eventopedia.

The capacity for parties is limited this year and government guidelines can change at a rapid pace. However, live events are possible at the moments in many areas of the UK, so a live office party might still be an option for your business, depending on where you are based.

Live event

Based on current restrictions, you may be able to host live Christmas events with up to 30 guests.

The most reliable way to plan a Christmas celebration is to choose an experienced venue that can help you navigate the new landscape. While post-lockdown live events are new, reputable venues have been preparing over the past months, and will know how to implement the necessary safety measures correctly.

Having a live Christmas party can be a great option for businesses with a small number of employees. However, even medium-sized or larger businesses can choose this option, by hosting several small parties and splitting the groups. Creating separate groups might not be ideal, but at the moment, it’s the only option if you have over 30 employees.

If planning several small parties sounds like a nice idea, I recommend taking a few moments to carefully consider how you’re going to create the groups. The initial tendency might be to group departments together, but a better alternative could be to mix people from different departments, so they also have a chance to socialise with people other than those whom they’re already close to.

Planning a live celebration in 2020

If you’re going for a live celebration, the safety of your employees needs to be the first priority. Firstly, check that the venue has taken the required measures, though, as mentioned, this shouldn’t be a problem if your venue is reputable and experienced. The venue will also let you know what types of activities will be possible.

Secondly, make sure your employees are trained in what to do and not to do, in order for everyone to socialise safely.

And finally, before you book your venue and other services for your event, make sure you understand their policies around cancellations and changes. The evolution of live events in the near future will depend on how the crisis is managed, and you want to be covered in case further restrictions are implemented.


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Virtual celebration

Hosting a live Christmas celebration isn’t the only option; you might prefer going for a virtual celebration instead. Even if you’re planning to host a live event, you should be prepared with some ideas for easily converting it into a virtual party in case restrictions tighten. Moreover, a virtual event can be an especially nice idea if your staff is located in different cities or countries.

Treat your employees

Christmas is a time of gift-giving and showing appreciation. Even if you’re hosting your celebration online, there are still ways you can treat your employees.

One way is to send them a gift. Feel free to get creative with the gift, but here are some ideas:

  • Luxurious hot chocolate packets or cocktail mixes for all to enjoy during the virtual party
  • Holiday goodies – Santa hats, holiday socks, decorations etc.
  • A meal – if you want to have a virtual meal with your team, you can reimburse them for a delivery service.
  • An extra day off for the holidays

Ways to enjoy a virtual Christmas party

In terms of what to do during the virtual celebration, there is an array of options through which you can create a fun and festive mood for all. Naturally, invite everyone to wear their silliest Christmas jumpers, hats, antlers etc. Dressing up can boost the holiday spirit, and you can host a costume competition to incentivise people to participate.

Even for the most formal of organisations, one thing that is always appropriate for a Christmas party is playing Christmas games. The purpose is to simply have a laugh and unwind, and given the stress we’ve all dealt with this year, a bit of entertainment would be welcome. You can also choose games designed for team building, such as Pictionary or charades. Just make them Christmas edition!

If you’re looking for a more memorable experience for your team, you can always host a virtual workshop, such as candle-making or cocktail mixing, sending your team the necessary kits in advance.

Technical aspects

Under normal circumstances, Christmas dos can accommodate all of an organisation’s employees. However, just as you’re going to have to split the teams for a live event this year, you need to also consider how many people your virtual event can host.

The main issue isn’t necessarily regarding the technical capabilities of the virtual platform, but rather how many people can effectively socialise in one video conference. Even if the platform can host 100 people in a meeting, maybe the celebration would be more fun with smaller groups.

Thus, take the time to consider how you’d like to organise the groups. This will also depend on the chosen activity. For a workshop, you could invite the entire department at once; for a relaxed cocktail virtual get-together, you might want to have smaller groups.

With a bit of creativity, you can plan a great celebration, showing appreciation for your staff. Whether you go for a live or a virtual event, it will be remembered fondly by everyone!

Toby Heelis is the CEO of Eventopedia and has spent the last 20 years leading the meeting and events industry operating and marketing event venues. He has refined his experiences at the leading large event venue in London, The Brewery, as Marketing Director. 

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