As the holiday season approaches each year, many office settings become a bit more relaxed with celebratory workplace socials, gift exchanges, and even off-site parties. It’s often the most wonderful time of year for employees and employers alike. However, the ongoing presence of COVID-19 will definitely be affecting—and possibly cancelling—workplace holiday celebrations this year. But, with a slight reimagination and creative spin, you can still celebrate safely—and with a festive spirit that helps employees feel valued and keeps morale high. If you’re looking for a few ideas for holiday parties in the age of COVID-19, we have a few suggestions.

If your team is virtual...

As many companies will have a virtual office environment this year, hosting a holiday party virtually is not only possible, but it can be easy and fun. Here are a few ideas to consider for your virtual holiday gatherings.


  • Virtual Secret Santa—With the help of new apps like Elfster, DrawNames, and Giftster, you can easily organize your annual office gift exchange with a virtual twist. Of course, you’ll need a strategy for the physical exchange of the gifts, which can include a drop-off and pick-up station at the office or offer to pay postage for your team members to mail their gifts if your budget allows.
  • Host a Party Via Zoom—If 2020 has taught us one thing, it’s that we can do pretty much anything via Zoom. If you’re hoping to keep the annual holiday party tradition alive, pull together your team’s party planners to organize a virtual party. If your employees love spending time together, you can encourage everyone to log on while dressed in their ugly Christmas sweaters to celebrate over everyone’s favorite food and drinks of choice. To keep everyone’s attention, you can get really creative by planning a Murder Mystery style activity, karaoke, or trivia.
  • Mail Customized Gift Boxes—If budget allows, consider using your annual holiday party dollars to send your employees customized gift boxes. Not only will they feel valued and celebrated but gift boxes keep on giving beyond a typical party or celebration.

If your team is in the office…

If most or all of your team is working at the office, and you still want to host a safe in-person holiday celebration, be sure you adhere to your local government’s recommended crowd size, mask, and social distancing requirements. Consider these in-office, socially-distant holiday party tips.


  • Cater to Individual Needs—Everyone loves a good potluck or catered buffet, but you’ll want to make sure all party foods are individually plated and served this year to prevent the possible spread of germs. Many catering companies are now offering individually-packaged meals, which can help you provide food to your team safely. All in all, you’ll probably want to postpone the annual cookie exchange or chili cook-off contests until next year.
  • Host the Party During the Workday—While your tradition might involve hosting your holiday gathering after work hours or off-site, consider a workday celebration that helps cut down on crowd control and gifts back the evening hours for employees to be with their families.
  • Take the Party Outside—If your office space or building allows (along with the weather), host your celebration in an outdoor space that allows for social distancing and fresh air. You can even add heaters or fire pits if possible, along with some outdoor games or activities for safe team building. To help with safe food handling, consider hiring food trucks to show up on-site and allow employees to order food and snacks of their choice.

If you want to think outside the box…

Since 2020 has been a year of great change, maybe this year is ideal for changing up the way you celebrate the holidays with your team. There are many ways to preserve the spirit of celebration together without a traditional party or gathering. If you’re looking to think outside the box a bit this year, here are a few ideas.


  • Donate to a Charitable Organization—In honor of your employees, you could choose to make a charitable contribution to a nonprofit organization that’s doing some good in the world. Especially after a year that has prompted much reflection, this type of gift might just be the heartwarming action your team needs to see during this time.
  • Sponsor or Match Contributions—In the same vein of charitable giving, a unique way to celebrate the holiday season with your employees could be to sponsor or match contributions to each employee’s charitable causes. Note that you’ll likely want to set parameters for organizations that match your company’s values.
  • Deliver a Meal—Instead of using the holiday party budget on an in-person gathering, encourage your employees to celebrate with their families or close friends at home by sending a meal to their house. You can even send gift cards to their favorite restaurants, and let them celebrate at their own convenience.

Need Ideas for Executing a Safe Office Holiday Celebration?

If this year has kept you busy with changes and challenges, we’re here for you. Whether it’s offering you some safe ways and guidance on holiday celebrations, helping you best support your employees during COVID-19, or taking the load off your shoulders with some HR or payroll support, our team is ready to assist. Contact us today to learn how LBMC Employment Partners can help.