This season, you might be missing one of the age-old traditions of the not-so-modern workplace: the office holiday party. It was a time to dress up (I miss my shoes), a time to make awkward small talk (remember traffic?), and a time to introduce your significant other to the people you spend most of your days with (video call into my home instead). It was adored and loathed, depending on the people you worked with and who was catering. And for now, it’s gone.
Goodbye, Costco cheese platter. Hello, virtual celebration.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Please do not Zoom fatigue me into the New Year. But, not all remote fiestas require video calls. There are plenty of ways to ring in 2021—or sack 2020, rather—with the cameras off.
Here are a few low-key virtual celebrations to try, from our team at InHerSight to yours.
1. Complete a themed bracket
Sports may have been questionable this year, but brackets are forever. The InHerSight team completed a “Thanksgiving sides” bracket for Turkey Day, and boy, did mashed potatoes not deserve to win that title. Alas.
Zhuzh up your end-of-year chatter with some healthy bickering. Try a movie or pop culture bracket (holiday movies or songs, retro movies, best superheroes, etc.), or this social distancing bracket from Slate. ‘Tis the season for foolishly strong opinions.
2. Submit anonymous compliments
If words of affirmation are more your style, disperse the Candy Cane-grams. (Mean Girls, a film once screened in the InHerSight office. See option #3.)
Ask your team to submit one to three compliments about their coworkers. Then compile and send out a big email o’ praise before everyone logs off for the holidays.
Our company did this for Employee Appreciation Day in the spring, and we were all awash in warm fuzzies. What’s that Henry James quote? “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” Spread the kindness. It’s important.
"I love seeing how her brain works to organize things. It has helped me learn way more about good development patterns than if left to my own devices and I think it's improved my code and technique. I also like that Barbara is GREAT at talking through things. My first instinct whenever I have a crazy idea is to run it by Barbara because she's excellent at getting to the heart of the matter and helping me refine my ideas or convincing me to trash them altogether. In general, I also think Barbara and I make a great team and I really enjoy working with her as a person."
3. Watch a movie together
In the Time Before, our team would mark one Friday a month with a movie or show playing in the office while we worked. Paddington, The Great British Bake Off, Stargate—movie Fridays were good Fridays.
Now we’re doing it virtually using Amazon Prime’s Watch Party feature, which allows up to 100 people to watch a film or show together. Netflix and Disney+ have similar functions, but the Netflix plugin includes a camera so you can see your teammates and the Disney+ option only allows six people to join your party. We opted for Prime's simple text chat feature instead and the ability to invite our whole crew. The platform also allows non-Prime users to rent the movie and join the party.
On our shortlist this year? We’re choosing between Bombshell, Slumdog Millionaire, Labyrinth, Fast Color, and It’s a Wonderful Life.
4. Host an art competition
Our team is competitive, and so are many of our kids. We hosted a kids art competition wherein the InHerSight tots submitted drawings of what they think their parent does for a living. All contestants received an award, but the grand prize winner got a $10 gift card.
You can replicate this activity with year-end themes like: Draw something that made you happy this year, draw your family, draw your favorite thing about winter, or draw something you’re excited about. (Pictured left is a drawing by Robin, our art competition winner.)
5. Create a challenge
In the vein of competition, our group is closing out 2020 with a wellness challenge. We’ve each set our own goals (meditate for X minutes, walk X number of steps per day, drink more water), and we’re tracking them in a shared spreadsheet. Unlike resolutions, the goal here isn’t to overhaul our lives—we’ve all had enough of that this year. It’s really just to achieve something and to do it together. Give your team another reason to check that year-end box with pride.
6. Share your Spotify Wrapped
A few of our number swap Spotify playlists, but there’s something special about knowing your coworker looped the same song 100 times over the course of a single day.
Screenshot your Spotify Wrapped to share with the group—no shaming, please. Or consider other music-related activities. Create a shared team playlist people can contribute to throughout the week or month (try setting a theme like iconic movie songs or best cover songs), or choose a team member to DJ a virtual work session, where you all join a video call and work remotely together.
7. Eat doughnuts
Or eat anything! This fall, our founders used Postmates to send fresh doughnuts to each team member one sugary Monday. I have it on good authority there will be another treat before the year ends, too. At least one thing is still true after this rollercoaster of a year: The way to a person’s heart is through their stomach.