The end of the year for a CEO means crunching numbers and preparing the next year’s budget and plans, employee reviews, holiday gifts, and holding the yearly holiday gathering. Given the pandemic, I obviously was concerned about the virtual holiday party and how to make it fun and special. What in the world would we do?
The last party I had to figure out during COVID was my daughter’s birthday early on in the pandemic. She was the first of her friends to have a "surprise Zoom Party" and let's just say that it did not go so smoothly when she got on to see her family, home friends, camp friends, teachers, and soccer coach who were all together on a screen. It was just plain awkward and no one knew what to do or say. I don’t think any of us knew Zoom that well and could figure out the muting/gallery features, etc. So of course I had this experience in mind when thinking about how to throw a successful virtual holiday party.
Now that it is in the history books, I have to tell you ... our 2020 Virtual CertifiKID/Macaroni Kid Holiday Party was SUPER FUN and SUCCESSFUL! I even had one employee tell me we should do it every year because it was the first time she felt she got a chance to hear from everyone. When you do the in-person ones at a restaurant, you get seated next to just a few people and those end up being the only people you talk to all night. It is also a great option for us to know about for future celebrations, as our team has expanded with Macaroni Kid and so many people reside all over the country.
So here is what we did, and I encourage anyone to consider this approach not just for an office party, but even as a way to have a party with friends or family. There is a lot of planning involved to make sure it all goes smoothly, so keep that in mind.
Prepping for our party
I shipped out a party box to everyone, which I told them they couldn’t open until the party! In the box I included a bag of Fisher's Popcorn (my favorite and a perfect party snack!), a personal card, a snow hat with Macaroni Kid on one side and CertifiKID on the other side, and a gingerbread house kit! Lesson learned ... you need to be careful when packing gingerbread houses because they can break AND the mail around the holidays is slow, so send as far in advance as possible.
We also prepared our Zoom background and environment to make it festive. We had a disco light going and Brian and I dressed in funny Hannukah Pajamas and wore New Year’s hats.
Kick-off party video
I had everyone send my daughter a clip of them writing a holiday message on toilet paper and then throwing it. It came out super cute and I played it to start off the party. Big shout out to my 11-year-old daughter Lila for producing it! Check it out here.
Mixology lesson with Bellion Vodka
We had a mixology course to start the call from Bellion Vodka, which was a great way to loosen up those who were up for it! Just to give you a quick overview, Bellion Vodka is a hot, new vodka infused with a proprietary blend of FDA-approved ingredients called NTX that is scientifically proven to protect the liver from the harmful effects of alcohol consumption. (Yes, you read that correctly!) Just released in October, and not yet available in stores, Bellion prides itself on no hangover! We can personally attest to this!
We had this amazing mixologist teach us how to make 2 drinks. They were delish and easy to follow. Brian and I both kept saying how smooth the vodka went down (we could hardly taste it in our yummy drinks and didn’t have hangovers!). It was fun to learn how to make the new drinks and I look forward to making them for others post-COVID. We are offering a deal on Bellion Vodka, which you can grab for a limited time by clicking here!
Gingerbread house contest
Once the drink sessions ended and everyone was feeling a bit warmer and relaxed, we pulled out our gingerbread house kits. We decided to make this into a contest and the construction theme was that the house should represent the year 2020. Everyone then got to work!
The next morning we posted pictures of all the gingerbread houses (with very cute theme names) on Facebook for our publishers to vote on their favorite one. The winner was "TP Tent Campers" and the runner-up was "Thanks 2020." Check out these creative concoctions:
Sharing special family memories or traditions
This was my favorite part of the night! We went around the team in the order of when people started with the company (I think it is important on these large group Zoom calls to have an agenda and create some order so people have a sense as to when it will be their turn to speak!) while everyone was working on their houses. Each person said where they lived, how long they’d been with the company, and then shared a special holiday family tradition or memory. It was so nice to really learn some special things about each team member. We have team members from all over the country with very different backgrounds that came shining through.
Despite the challenging conditions we all face right now, it was a super fun night and I really do believe it helped lift our spirits in some way and provide good stress relief from the day to day of work. I encourage people to not shy away from virtual events, even if it may seem a bit weird and awkward, because the benefits of connecting personally are more than worth it. However, it will help to have some drinks (highly recommend Bellion Vodka!) ready at hand, especially if you can be confident that you will wake up without the dreaded hangover!
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