In lieu of a traditional office party this year, a Virtual Holiday Happy Hour is an excellent alternative.
Most people are craving casual connections with teammates because working remotely lends to “business only” meetings. Why not build in some relaxed, relationship building time through an online Happy Hour?
1. Invite the team to bring their families and roommates to the call.
A small team of five people that I work with, invited their spouses, partners, children, and/or fur babies to their Happy Hour. For most, it was the first time they were seeing each other’s loved ones and they had so much fun meeting and asking each other questions. This Happy Hour was one of the highlights of a two-day team meeting. Meeting families and pets of co-workers shed a different light on who they are, which tightens the bond and sense of connectedness.
You can invite family members and pets for a part of the Happy Hour or the entire hour. Be sure to include people’s fur babies because they are family too!
2. Encourage everyone to wear fun holiday “bling”, hats, sweaters, etc.
Up the festivity feeling by asking everyone to wear holiday bling or clothing. On a recent Happy Hour I facilitated, I wore a Santa Hat and a Christmas tree bulb necklace. Yes, I looked ridiculous, but it was fun. Others wore funny hats or glittery scarves. This not only created a fun visual for us, but it was a conversation starter in itself.
3. Have some holiday-related Conversation Starter Questions ready to go.
Some groups need no help getting the conversation going, but usually, there are a few awkward silent moments. Have an icebreaker question ready to go. And, if you have more than 6 people, consider putting them into random breakout rooms to have more intimate conversations.
4. Give toasts to the people on the call and encourage them to toast each other too.
Toasts are for special occasions, and your Holiday Happy Hour will feel even more special if you and others toast each other. You can toast individuals and the team collectively. These can be serious or playful.
5. Invite the team to show their favorite holiday decoration.
The team members can bring a decoration to their camera or walk their camera to the room in their house with the decoration. You’ll know if this is a good idea or not for your team. Make this one optional. Some might love to show you, others may not.
6. Conduct a holiday beverage (or cookie) contest.
See who can come up with the most creative, delicious beverage (or cookie). Share recipes with each other and talk about them. You can even compile all the recipes and send them out later.
7. Send a wrapped gift ahead of time and tell them to wait to open it on the call.
‘Tis the season for gifts. Wrap and mail a gift to your team and tell them to bring it still wrapped to the call. During the Happy Hour, invite them to open their gifts at the same time. Depending on your budget, the gifts can be expensive or homemade sentimental gifts. They can even be something funny such as a coffee mug with the team picture on it filled with candy. What would surprise and delight your team?
Spending some time planning for a fun, festive, and memorable Virtual Holiday Happy Hour for your team will pay off tremendously. Connecting and relaxing together is important in building relationships and trust.
May you and your team enjoy a safe and Happy Holiday Season!
About the Author: Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams and Forward, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field. Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are happy and high-performing.
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