People either love or hate office holiday parties. Almost everyone hates the virtual office holiday party. As we enter the second epidemic holiday season, both types of events – meaning celebrating employees and humanizing bosses – are back. But they are probably different from what you remember.
This year, the virtual parties continue, though, with compassion, companies have learned some lessons from last year about what employees will carry. And since last year’s break, private parties are returning due to increased vaccination rates and increased appetite for socialization, although these events will be more restrained. We also see the rise of a third class: neither side. Instead of hungry catering, bad DJs and awkward interactions with your coworkers, some companies are opting for gifts, money or extra time vacations. A company is even planning a group trip to heaven – of course, if you are eccentric you can consider it a never ending office holiday party.
Significantly missing from the company’s plans this year is the so-called hybrid holiday party, where some guests attend in person and some online. It turns out that these do not work. It is difficult to program satisfactorily for both groups, so most companies have given up trying.
Which party you join – or avoid – largely depends on your particular company, industry, and region. But one thing is clear: the epidemic has had a lasting effect on the holiday party as we know it.
Virtual celebration, sequel
For many companies, this will be two years of virtual holiday party. Don’t despair! They should be better or at least smaller than in 2020.
Last year, many companies made mistakes when making some changes to the virtual setting: they tried to estimate real-world events. For some, this means a zoom call that lasts for more than an hour and includes everything from games to music to speeches – it’s better to have a drink in hand at a bar or glamorous event space than your couch at home.
“They were almost too intense in terms of how much was happening online,” Tal Brodsky, director of product marketing and business development at Thriver, a record of a workplace culture marketplace that helps companies organize holiday parties, told Record.
“I think this year, most companies are focusing on short and sweet but effective things online,” said Brodsky, who estimates that 60-70 percent of holiday parties in Thriver will be virtual this year.
This year, at the media database company Muck Rack, magician and psychologist Coby Elimelech is going to read the minds of some remote employees. The virtual event includes a স্ট 60 stipend for food and wine, a toast and it will be over in an hour and a half.
Facebook is scaling big time. After hosting a 6,000-person holiday party for its New York office at Pier 94, which included a DJ, two Mr. Softy trucks and thousands of waffles for guests in 2019, the company decided to host a virtual diversity show for the second year. Employees will watch performances by Broadway musicians and actors and donate to Broadway Care.
Many virtual holiday parties this year include sending boxes of food, drink mixes or crafts ahead of time and assembling with the help of an instructor during zoom events. These events are often held with smaller groups than last year, and any company-wide segments have been largely shortened.
Chocolate Noise, a craft chocolate event company, sends participants multiple chocolates, as well as tea and wine pairings, then takes them through online chocolate testing. The company’s founder, Megan Giller, suggested pre-epidemic virtual events, but said they didn’t become popular among corporate clients until last year.
“We really go through each one like it’s a fine wine or cheese, where we talk about where the beans come from and how the chocolate is made and what people taste at these particular bars,” says Miller, who wrote the book. Chocolate judges chocolate competition and teaches people “how to taste like an expert.”
Although Miller prefers testing in small groups, the huge increase in the virtual company’s holiday party means he had to learn how to host these events for more than 100 people at once. An MC needs to be included in addition to several chocolate soumelias for the event to run smoothly.
This year, Thriver’s popular activities include making watercolor holiday cards, peppermint mocha and cocktail kits, as well as a Christmas murder mystery.
Amanda Ma, chief experience officer at Innovate Marketing Group, an LA-based event experience agency, will host large events for large corporate clients, as well as large banks, typically YouTube and TikTok. Pre-epidemic, he said he would “create the whole experience, touching the five senses, from food to entertainment to what they touch and feel.” This year, 90 percent of the holiday party he’s working at is virtual. Still, she tries her best to give guests a multi-sensory experience at home.
“Ordinary wine and wine very last year,” said the mother. “Everyone’s expectations are higher this year because they now have almost two years of virtual time.”
Popular activities among her clients this year include making charcuterie boards, learning calligraphy, and making wreaths on holidays. Overall, Mom says she’s been thinking a lot more about this year’s events because they have more time to plan, with most companies finding things this summer like last minute last year. He also mentioned that virtual events are cheaper than individual events, with cost savings of 30 to 50 percent.
IRL Holiday Party Back
For many companies, 2021 marks the return of the holiday party to the office, but the size, space and time have changed. Companies – and especially those that run them – have many employees eager to get people back into the office after working from home for almost two years. Officials see private holiday parties as a way to get people back. It’s a great way to get acquainted (gain, obtain) with people you know and love.
Typically, this year’s events are smaller than before, which is done by banning plus-one, breaking up parties or partying for more than one day.
For a corporate client who hosted a 1,500-person holiday before the epidemic, Tinsel Experimental Design in New York hosted three separate events with two different concepts. The client, which the firm will not disclose, also held a series of events at Central Park Zoo earlier this year to allow guests to stay out.
“The format is under the microscope,” Alexa Jensen, head of creative production at Tinsel, told Rekod.
In general, companies are becoming more thoughtful about where and when they host their holiday parties. They choose locations with outdoor spaces to take advantage of the warm weather and sometimes move the event to autumn or spring. They need to be more agile in all aspects of the event.
“It’s no longer just a Plan B rain plan,” Jensen said. “It’s like, Plan B is if another Delta comes – I hate to put it into words – what kind of thing is Plan B, C, D.”
This means a possible last minute relocation plan. Organizations that host private events often choose to host them in their own offices rather than outside venues, so Thriver says they have more control over their security.
There has also been an increase in holiday lunches or early reunions instead of meeting in the evening.
Rosa Hardesti, knowledge advisor at the Society for Human Resource Management, said: “I think people value their time more. He added that most of the parties he hears in person are again paying less tax on employees. “Maybe they realize that employers do this during the day when they pay and celebrate them so they can go to their family home.”
But, apart from the size, time and location, these events do not seem to be terribly different from what they were before. There is food, bartender and song arrangement. However, there are limitations to the number of external vendors and the need to vaccinate those vendors. Many employees will have to show evidence of premature vaccination themselves, although some companies are offering Covid-19 testing at events.
Some companies are doing something completely different
The epidemic has prompted companies to completely reconsider on the premises of holiday parties. Perhaps because they think holiday party budgets can be better spent, some companies are finding more fancy ways to support their co-workers with their co-workers and their families.
PR firm VSC is swapping the office party – and the office, which they left in the summer of 2020 – for a company-wide trip to Hawaii. In early December, about 50 employees are taking a five-day trip to Ohio, where they will hang out on the zip line, surf and beach.
“When we have private events, they should be social,” said Vijay Chatta, founder of the company.
According to the Hardestie of the Society for Human Resource Management, extra time off, gift cards and other benefits are becoming popular alternatives to holiday parties. If the point of work is provided for your family, he said, companies are getting closer to the idea that they will allow you to spend more time with them. Recode’s parent company, Vox Media, is avoiding a holiday party again this year, although many parties are holding their own small events. Vox.com is giving its employees a full week off for vacation.
While they may have virtual get-togethers at the end of the year, some companies are also offering more intimate private activities for smaller groups that serve more as a team-building exercise than a holiday party. These include things like yoga classes, cooking classes and even escape rooms.
But despite the emergence of holiday party alternatives, event planners are at least keen on a stronger return to the real-life holiday party. This year is a test sort.
“Everyone is like getting their toes back,” said Jensen of Tinsel.
He added, “I think 2022 is going to be crazy. I’m already tied to my waist.”