| 21 December, 2021 | 8 Min Read

Jingle and mingle: 12 Covid-friendly office holiday party alternatives

Winter has arrived, and the holiday season is just around the corner. We all know what that means: office holiday parties! With all the buzz that comes with this festive season, an office holiday party can make (or break) an organization. A corporate holiday party is a fantastic way to liven up the drab winter months, relieve stress for employees, bring co-workers together, and get everyone in a festive mood.

With the end of the year in sight, companies are battling to continue with their pre-pandemic-styled holiday parties or skip them entirely this year. But it becomes a pretty big deal when considering the positive effects on employee engagement and the team-building benefits of having holiday traditions at work.

26.6% of companies in the US are planning to hold an in-person holiday party, up from the 5.33% last year.

Office holiday-themed parties have their perks – team members can learn more about each other and build great connections when they spend time together outside of their responsibilities.

If you are hosting parties for the first time, it is better to collaborate with your company's human resource teams and hire event planners to run the show smoothly.

And to make things even simpler, we have compiled a list of the most incredible games and activities for the 2021 holiday party season.

6 safe in-person office holiday party games

People love in-person office holiday parties. Even though throwing a Christmas party at work seems impractical and unsafe this year, which has pushed managers to find other ways to make it fun and safe for their employees.

So, if you are planning non-virtual parties to celebrate the holidays, skip the large gatherings and host a small get-together in place of the annual company holiday party. This will help you follow social distancing protocols and keep your staff safe. Make sure you are up to speed on the latest health recommendations and include them in party invitations.

In the spirit of social distancing, here are a few exciting games and activities to add more fun to your office party.

1. Oven mitt unwrapping

As the name implies, this party game revolves around unwrapping gifts with a twist. It is a popular and well-liked game that can be enjoyed while maintaining social distance in the workplace.

Grove HR - office holiday party - oven mitt unwrapping

As part of the set-up, wrap a secret gift in multiple layers of wrapping paper. It should be wrapped firmly with as many tapes as possible to make unpacking more difficult.

First, everyone forms a circle with the wrapped gift, oven mitts, and dice in the middle.

Give one player oven mitts and the gift, and the person to their left a cup with two dice. The person with the oven mitts puts them on and tries to unwrap the present one layer at a time.

Simultaneously, the person who has the dice rolls them until they have doubles.

When doubles are rolled, the player on the left hands the cup and dice to the person on the right, and the player on the left takes over oven mitts and the gift. Each time a pair of doubles is rolled, the gift and the dice move to the left. The player who unwraps the final layer will be the winner.

2. White Elephant gift exchange

The White Elephant gift exchange game is similar to Yankee Swap in concept but focuses on "stealing" rather than "swapping" items, which is fun. This game is more exciting than exchanging traditional gift cards.

As team members come, they are given numbers, or their names are picked at random, and they choose presents in that order.

In the first round, the participant assigned the number 1 chooses a present and opens it. Next, the participant allotted with number 2 has the option of stealing number 1's present or selecting a wrapped gift from the initial lot.

As the game progresses, the next player chooses a new present or accepts an already unwrapped gift from any of the other participants. The player whose present gets taken away by another must either pick a new gift or accept a gift that another player has already opened.

3. Cookie decorating contest

Give each team member a couple of cookies and decorating materials on their plates, and then let them go crazy decorating their cookies. A gift is awarded to the best chef decorator!

Grove HR - office holiday party - cookie decorating contest

The best part of the game is that all the team members get to eat the cookies when the competition is over. You can even hire a food truck and display the decorated cookies to add more fun.

4. Mask decorating contest

Masks have become an unavoidable part of our lives. When life gives you a mask, go creative and decorate it before wearing one!

As for the game, every participant is given a cloth mask in a seasonal color. You can set up a variety of art supplies as well as a time restriction. Everyone has time to adorn their masks, and the winner is the one who comes up with the most unique and fascinating design.

It's worth mentioning that you don't want to cut or poke holes in the cloth, as this would undermine the mask's efficacy. Everyone should be able to wear these masks throughout the Christmas season. You can also turn the mask decoration activity into an office Christmas decoration event.

5. Name that tune

To play this enjoyable game of 'name that song,’ no participant has to be close to one other. One can start the game by playing the first few seconds of a popular Christmas song and then asking your team member to name it.

Note down each time a participant gives a correct response to keep track of the score. At last, the player with the most points wins!

6. Potluck with a twist

Are you missing the fun of Friday night outs and happy hours? Don't worry; we got it covered with a potluck game. But we can give a slight twist to this food party game and call it an international potluck game. A potluck is a social event where each visitor or group brings a different food dish for sharing that is typically homemade.

Grove HR - office holiday party - potluck with a twist

Instead of a standard office potluck, have each attendee bring a dish from a different nation. You may give each participant a country at random and study and prepare cuisine that symbolizes that culture. Everyone can try a new recipe and sample a wide variety of different cuisines.

6 virtual holiday party ideas for remote team

Virtual holiday parties are becoming a new holiday tradition, with pandemic restrictions limiting large in-person gatherings and work from home catching the wave. While planning a virtual party is fun, you need to make it creative, as employees suffering from "zoom-fatigue" might hesitate to participate.

It's common for virtual gatherings to get uncomfy. However, if planned properly these parties can be a big hit. When hosting virtual events, using the most feasible and reliable online meeting tools is essential.

To make things a bit easier for you, we went to great lengths to identify some of the exciting and unique virtual office holiday party ideas and activities for you.

1. Movie night

The best way to get everyone in the holiday spirit is to watch some old, classic movies together. Using StreamParty or Meta stream, everyone can watch the same movie simultaneously.

You can even bring home-cooked Christmas delicacies and tease your colleagues virtually for an extra festive touch during the movie night. We'll leave it to you to decide if 'Die Hard' is a Christmas film or not.

2. The naughty list

The alternative of the "never-have-I-ever" game might act as an icebreaker for teams who have been working virtually for months. This game is a great way to make people laugh and share embarrassing stories that they may feel hesitant to share.

The game begins with each team member lifting ten fingers. Everyone takes a turn saying something along the lines of "You're on the naughty list if...". Members need to place a finger down each time they have done anything on the list. At the end of the game, whoever has the most fingers up wins.

3. Murder mystery in ancient Egypt

Although not exactly on the lines of an escape rooms game, this virtual game employs similar dynamics to solve puzzles and mysteries. Members will be divided into breakout rooms and collaborate to investigate a true historical crime in ancient Egypt.

A guide will provide clues and prompts before eventually disclosing the actual chronology of events. This murder mystery game is a 90-minute team-building activity led by an expert host.

4. Guess the employee

You will need to make two teams with two employee lists for this game using PickerWheel for free. Run the wheel twice, where the employee chosen in the first run will have two minutes to describe or imitate the employee selected from the second run.

If no one can identify who the individual is describing before the timer runs out, both the teams get equal points. 

5. Say cheese!

To make priceless moments last forever, you may put up a virtual photo booth to capture all the laughter and joy. It is a tool that allows users to create custom photo content to capture photos with different backgrounds or themes.

Grove HR - office holiday party - virtual photo booth

Source: outsnapped.com


Team members from different departments can create outfits inspired by movie characters and pose together to add more fun.

6. Guess your colleague

While some do not change as they grow older, others undergo a complete transformation. And when we look back at our childhood photos, we can't help but wonder how much we've changed in only a few years.

Whether we thought we were adorable as kids or not, we all love to share old photos with our friends. Going on a nostalgic journey is something we all like doing from time to time.

Do you believe you can identify your colleague merely by glancing at their childhood photos? If yes, go ahead, play the game, and put your knowledge to the test.

Are you ready for year-end celebrations?

If you haven't planned anything yet, there's still time to throw a party that your staff will enjoy. You don't have to wait for Santa to bring you the perfect office holiday party this year. Instead, you can use the ideas on this list to create your virtual or in-person events.

Make sure your holiday party is tailored to your company culture, reinforces the values, and emphasizes the spirit you want to create. After all, with a bit of foresight and effort, you might be able to offer some positivity to your employees.

Office holiday celebrations may help increase employee happiness, which is critical in today's working environment. These in-house or virtual office parties help employees reminisce on the previous year and look forward to the new year.

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