Dreading the idea of yet another Secret Santa or ugly Christmas sweater? Start brainstorming refreshing ways to celebrate the holidays with your coworkers, because you’re not alone:
According to a Randstad survey that looked into workers’ appreciation of typical workplace traditions, things like cookie swaps and gift exchanges are low on the list of appreciated activities. However, 54% of American employees said they loved “holiday spirit in the workplace” the most.
This means that most of your coworkers will be happy to ditch some of the more typical festivities in favor of fun experiences that bring you together and cultivate that holiday cheer. Here are three refreshing ways to celebrate the holidays with your work buddies for inspiration.
Share a culinary experience
Logan Mallory, VP at Motivosity, a company that helps keep employees engaged both in the office and remotely, suggests hosting a recipe exchange to bridge the gap between remote and in-person employees.
“Food has a way of bringing people together. The beauty of this is that it can be done both in person and virtually. For in-person events, have people cook the food as well as provide the recipe. Either way, it’s a great conversation starter and a way for people to connect with one another,” he says.
For an, even more, special culinary experience, you can participate in a live cooking class with international chefs thanks to The Table Less Traveled, a company that connects teams virtually to chefs you could normally only access through a gourmet tour in a location like Italy or Japan.
“I just finished talking with a social planning chair at eBay who was saying they are looking to shake it up and get people out of their seats with our live and interactive cooking classes,” says The Table Less Traveled founder and CEO Annie Cheng.
“Our format is interactive and exploratory as coworkers get their hands dirty in the kitchen while talking with Chef Alain in Tuscany about his grandmother’s pasta recipe, or learning how to make the perfect sushi roll with Yoko in Japan.”
Whether you opt for a more casual recipe swap or a special cooking class, food has a way of bringing people together. Plus, doing an activity instead of engaging in small talk or giving a gift to a coworker you don’t know very well is more conducive to organic fun.
Redefine virtual events
With organizations permanently embracing hybrid and remote work models, virtual events are not going anywhere. But it’s normal to be burned out from virtual events that feel forced and fall flat. With some creativity, you can redefine them and make them an appealing option to celebrate the holidays.
“Even though some companies are back in the office a couple of days a week, they are still very focused on hosting virtual holiday events this year to make sure the fun is inclusive and accessible to all employees,” says Sammy Courtright the co-founder and Chief Brand Officer of Ten Spot, a workforce engagement platform that also offers a variety of fun virtual events.
According to her, some of the most popular and successful events companies have requested for their holiday gatherings include live comedy or music sets, holiday cocktail crafting classes, virtual scavenger hunts and trivia competitions.
“And it doesn’t stop just with employees. Virtual events where families are invited and can be included are also highly requested,” she adds.”
She recommends using the moments before and after the event to socialize with your teammates on your own. And when it comes to duration, less is more:
“Because the event is virtual it doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) last for hours. We’ve found that keeping things to 45 to 55 minutes not only boosts employee participation and engagement in the event but also keeps fatigue to a minimum.”
Get out of the office
“To celebrate the holidays with your coworkers, commit to taking part in activities that take you outside of the office,” shares Mike Grossman, CEO of GoodHire, an HR background check company.
“Most of us simply see our coworkers as fellow professionals. Rarely do we get the chance to learn more about them on a personal level. By taking celebrations outside of the office, you can start to see your colleagues as individuals outside of their roles.”
So if possible, an alternative to virtual events is ditching the office celebrations altogether and heading out instead. The benefits of doing so will carry into the months following the party too. “Building up these personal connections can really unify the workplace, bring a team together, and make work a much more inviting place to be,” adds Grossman, who suggests a classic team dinner party or even Christmas games at a local bar.
“It’s all light-hearted fun — the perfect way to round out a tough year. Each of these activities help the team forge a bond in and out of the workplace, so they can truly make the most of the holiday season and enjoy some well-earned time off,” he says.