Thinking about how to say thank you to your team? It’s not too late to plan a virtual team event.

A recent survey by telephone answering company, Moneypenny has found 26% of businesses are planning a virtual Christmas party for staff this year. With many of us getting ready to turn off our screens for a while, how can you create a virtual office celebration which will keep people tuned in? Here’s a list of suggestions from members of our community and network to help.

Food & drink

Choc Affair

Choc Affair is offering Chocolate Tasting Experiences which businesses are purchasing to host events online to teach their team how to correctly taste chocolate. Choc Affair has also teamed up with award-winning chocolatier David Greenwood-Haigh who for a small additional fee will host online tastings with businesses who purchase chocolate tasting experiences with them.

Price: unknown

Willies Cacao 

Apparently one of the ‘best 10 chocolate chocolates in the world’, Willies Cacao is offering virtual Artisan Chocolate Tastings. Each attendee receives a Chocolate Discovery Box (£20 each) which includes chocolates made from particularly unusual ingredients or rare beans.

Price: £20/ person

“As we made the decision earlier this year to say goodbye to our office and permanently work remotely, we will be celebrating Christmas safely over Teams.

Throughout 2020 we have come together through a video chat to enjoy activities that we would usually do in the office. These include tie-dye, face masks, mindfulness sessions and art classes – it’s great for team building.

Christmas is no different. We will be building and decorating gingerbread houses, having a cheese and wine tasting session, listening to festive music and having a good chat over Teams throughout – all while dressed up as reindeers, of course. We do miss being together in person, but we will pledge to make up for it next year.” – Charlotte Harvey, MD, Harvey & Hugo PR

Silent Pool Distillers

Virtual Gin tasting and tour’ which is being offered to companies instead of a Christmas party. It is hosted by award-winning Silent Pool Distillers set in the Surrey Hills. The tasting kit is sent out prior to the event and includes a Silent Pool mini gift box with Kaffir lime liquid garnish mist, Silent Pool Distillers small batch range gift box, two 500ml Fever Tree original tonics, one Silent Pool hand sanitiser and 10 recyclable sampling cups. Held via zoom, the tour and sampling offer a 360 immersive experience of the distillery alongside sampling and history of Silent Pool before wrapping up with a short gin quiz with the winner receiving a bottle of gin from the small-batch range!!

Price: £50/ person

Borough Wines

Borough Wines is offering the ultimate Zoom call for businesses this Christmas – an online wine tasting.  The wine retailer and wholesaler launched virtual tastings in April this year, offering an engaging experience for customers and much-needed work for sommeliers during lockdown.

Price: unknown

“For our Christmas party we’ve decided to go with an online game called “Master of Tasks’ based on the popular Dave TV show ‘Task Master. One of the main reasons for choosing this option was the fact that it’s a known and popular concept, seen as much cooler than a ‘virtual decorative wreath’ or ‘gingerbread house party’ and it involves a level of ridiculousness which everyone needs at a Christmas party. 

I think escape rooms and other similar online engagement concepts have their place as a team-building exercise, however, I’ve never been asked to team build/bond at a Christmas do. These are times for frivolity and god knows we could do with some of that right now.” – Vic Heyward, Marketing and Communications Manager, Bright  

Experiential

Fizz Box 

If you’re looking for something a bit different, it’s worth checking out Fizz Box. With virtual party options ranging from virtual casino nights, mystery nights, wreath making, baking and comedy, chances are you’ll find something to cater for all tastes.

Price: prices start at £8/ person

Virtual walking tours 

The oldest urban walking tour in the world, London Walks was founded in the 1960s. It is widely regarded as the gold standard of walking tour companies. Tours include Richard Burnip’s The London of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol and Adam’s Last Christmas London Music special. A musical tour of Christmas featuring locations from the movie inspired by the music of George Michael.

Price: from £8/ person

Sofar Sounds

The arts and culture sector has been seriously hit this year. Intimate music gig company Sofar Sounds is now offering Private virtual concerts. The online space was created after the company – which stages around 10,000 intimate concerts a year, across 400 cities – was forced to suspend all its shows, directly impacting more than 2,000 musicians.

Price: unknown

Virtual paintballing
One business we’ve spoken to is providing each employee with their own new Oculus Quest 2 VR headset – but it’s not cheap and probably better for smaller teams! They plan to use the Oculus’ to have a “team paintballing” event playing the new multiplayer VR Game Population One on Oculus (think of Fortnite in VR).

Price: £399/ person

Watching the budget?

Macmillan virtual escape rooms 

Macmillan cancer charity has set-up a virtual offering which helps to raise funds for the charity and brings people together. Quizzes and escape rooms are just two of the options available. A great option to do something for your team AND for charity.

Price: donations

“We have planned ’12 days of DeltaNet Christmas’. This entails 12 virtual events featuring games (e.g. virtual charades, DeltaNet family fortunes, a Christmas-themed quiz), a big company end-of-year meeting, a virtual Christmas tea-party and a virtual secret-Santa gift opening (we’ve arranged gifts to be sent in the post anonymously). The events aren’t mandatory, but people are free to drop in and have some festive giggles with colleagues if and when they can. It’s been a nice way to break up December and make the festivities last beyond just one virtual event.”

Helen Wood, DeltaNet

A simple thank you

Never underestimate how far a simple thank you can go. A personalised card, message or recognition for their efforts – sometimes thank you is all people need to hear.

Do you have any other ideas? Let us know what you’ve got planned!

THE AUTHOR

Lisa Pantelli, head of content & community

Lisa is simply’s head of content and community. She is an award-winning employee engagement and internal communications specialist.

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