Fun Office Holiday Party Ideas During COVID

October 29, 2020

Office holiday party ideas are always fun to toss around. Here are some suggestions that might work for your company, even amid a pandemic.

Old photo of a holiday office party.

Even though this year feels like it has been a million days long, the end is going to be upon us in no time!  So, it’s time to start planning your office holiday parties before it’s too late.  After all, it would just add to the bad in 2020 if you don’t come through with a fantastic celebration for your employees this year.  So, let’s talk about some fun office holiday party ideas, but with a COVID-safe twist! 

Now, there is no need to put your jingle bell thinking cap on, because we’ve done the hard work for you.  So, all you need to do is pick your favorite from among these office holiday party ideas.

Out with the Old, In with the COVID-Friendly Holiday Office Party Ideas

Photo of a woman sitting on Santa's lap.
Photo by Jazz Guy | Source | CC by

It’s no surprise that the traditional office holiday party is off the table.  Unfortunately, you won’t be able to laugh about Johnny sipping straight from the eggnog ladle or Karen sitting on Santa’s lap and whispering in his ear.  “Karen, that does NOT look like social distancing!”  On the other hand, maybe something in 2020 will be less taboo than years past! 

Still, there are plenty of fun office holiday party ideas that will ensure a memorable celebration.  The big difference is, these ideas are intended to help reduce the spread of COVID, even as you gather.  So, without further ado, here are a few office holiday party ideas you might not have considered yet.

Holiday Mask Competition

Masks are a must if you want to hold an in-person celebration.  So, remember that as you consider holiday office party ideas. The twist is that not just any mask will do—these are holiday-themed masks, and you’ll vote on whose mask is the most festive!  Now, this idea may sound easy enough.  You’re probably thinking you’ll just go on Amazon and scroll through unique COVID masks.  However, there’s a catch.  Specifically, your employees have to make their own masks.  So, buying a premade mask is off limits.  Encourage them to bring their A-game, and recommend hot glue, pompoms, and bedazzling.  Think of it as the new ugly sweater contest—for masks!  Plus, wearing your holiday mask will allow you to gather safely, and festively!

Zoom Caroling

Who doesn’t love the idea of opening the front door to a chorus of Christmas melodies?  Taking your team door-to-door might be off limits this year, because of—you know—droplets, and all.  Nevertheless, gracing audiences everywhere with your prodigious pipes doesn’t have to be forbidden.   Zoom caroling is a safe alternative to visiting neighbors and nursing homes in person.  The best part of this is that you don’t have to wear a mask!  Also, you can send out a link inviting friends near and far to enjoy the carols.  That’s assuming you think your singing is worth hearing…

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Holiday Talent Show

This idea will require a little preparation, but it will be worth it!  Ask employees to volunteer to perform in a holiday talent show.  Fun ideas include dancing, playing an instrument, or hula hooping dressed like Frosty the Snow Man.  Have them send you a recording of their performances, then compile them into a digital montage.  Set a time to live stream the recording, and encourage employees to pull up a chair at home.  Don’t forget the popcorn and hot cider, which you can send home in holiday-themed swag bags before the big day!

Cozy Bonfire Karaoke

Maybe you’ve done an outdoors team-building experience, but you probably haven’t done a holiday version of bonfire karaoke before!  This idea is easy enough if you have a good venue for the event.  Luckily, it doesn’t require much—just some outdoor space, a firepit, and access to electricity with an extension cord!  Employees can even bring their own chairs and their own thermoses filled with something hot to sip on.  The one catch is that you might have to keep one of the other office holiday party ideas in your pocket as a backup, should the weather turn on you.  Oh, and make sure you put someone in charge of sanitizing the microphone in between performers.

Angel Tree Gift Wrapping

Photo of a woman wrapping a gift, which is an office holiday party idea.
Photo by Marco Verch | Source

Finally, here is an opportunity for you to celebrate, meanwhile using your office holiday party idea to give back.  If you have a big open area available (such as a warehouse or gymnasium), consider hosting an angel tree gift wrapping party.  You don’t even need tables—skilled gift wrappers can do their thing on any old floor!  Employees would pick an angel off the tree and buy the items they wished for.  This is a great opportunity to partner with local charities, as well!  One suggestion—BYOS (bring your own supplies—i.e. wrapping paper, tape, and bows), which can keep people from grabbing sneezed-on scissors.   Employees will get to give to those in need, and enjoy companionship while doing it.  After all, nothing fills us with the holiday spirit more than the eggnog. Er—I mean, the opportunity to give.  (But the eggnog definitely helps loosen those purse strings, am I right?)

Consider Cash Gifts

By now, hopefully you’ve picked something fun from among the office holiday party ideas.  So, what happens if your shindig comes in way under budget?  Well, consider stuffing your employees’ stockings with something cold and hard.  No, we’re not talking coal, but cash.    Especially considering the economic pressures many people are facing this year, a little extra moolah can be a saving grace.  You can show your appreciation in the form of a bonus, gift cards, or even extra time off .  Just be sure to follow the IRS guidelines, since they consider most gifts as taxable benefits.  Also, be transparent with employees about how to claim the gift when they prepare their taxes.

Important Things to Remember as You Consider Ideas

Don’t forget, it’s all fun and games until someone catches the COVID—or any illness, really.  So, as you plan, coming up with safe holiday office party ideas needs to be at the forefront of your mind.  If you decide your employees can congregate safely, just make sure people are wearing masks and that there is a hand-washing station available.  Also, outdoor venues are better compared to confined spaces with limited airflow.   Consider hiring someone to take temperatures at the door, which could help keep infectious people at bay.

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When it comes to food and beverages, tread carefully.  While the WHO currently says there is no evidence that you can contract COVID by consuming food, you can never be too careful.  If you decide to roll the dice and provide refreshments to your employees at your holiday office party, be sure to follow some safe handling guidelines.

Holiday Office Party Ideas That Say, “Take that, COVID!

As you can see, COVID can’t stop us from getting creative with holiday office party ideas.  Sure, you’ll have to think outside the box a little.  Luckily, there are plenty of pre-fab ideas like going virtual with your celebration or making your mask part of your party ensemble.  If you don’t feel comfortable throwing down, but still want to celebrate employees, consider compensating them with time or money.  No matter what you decide, just make sure you’re doing it with health and safety in mind.  And who knows? Perhaps this year’s party could be a hit, and become a new holiday tradition for your company!

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