It’s been a tough year all-round, hasn’t it?
And to top it all off, we still don’t know what we will and won’t be able to do around Christmastime. Will we be able to visit friends and family or go Christmas shopping? And what about the office Christmas party?
Given that UK-wide restrictions have now ramped up once again, it’s not surprising that some companies are tempted to simply cancel their Christmas celebrations.
But actually, at HubbleHQ, we think that this year’s events make it more important than ever to celebrate the festive season with your colleagues.
The Christmas party is a staple of office life—a way for teammates to socialise in a non-work setting and generally have a good time. And right now, the horizon may be looking pretty bleak for many. With a second lockdown upon us, increasingly cold and dark evenings, and no certainty as to what will happen with Christmas, having a team celebration will give everyone something to look forward to and boost morale.
Finally, this is also a really wonderful opportunity to support some of those other businesses out there who’ve had a particularly rough time of it in 2020—especially those in the hospitality and events industries. For obvious reasons, “traditional” office parties are off-limits this year. But whilst doing our research, we were amazed at the innovation and adaptability of some companies who are making it possible for teams to celebrate at home.
Below, we’ve listed some awesome virtual Christmas party ideas that promise to bring some cheer into 2020. As they say, Christmas is a time for giving and receiving…so if you can offer your fellow businesses some support whilst also giving your employees a great time, everyone wins.
1. Enjoy a festive feast
Of course, no Christmas party is complete without edible festive treats. And whilst there’s no clarity as to when restaurants and bars will open again, the following companies are serving up some great options that make it easy to feed your team at home:
One option is to send your employees a Christmas food hamper. As well as being a fun thing to receive in the post, an added benefit of this approach is that it keeps the meal simple, and doesn’t require a lot of kitchen space, skill or equipment from your employees—whilst still being tasty and festive. And you can still tuck into your treats all-together via a Zoom call!
One company making this possible is City Pantry, who launched Pantry Packages back in March to enable companies to treat their teams while they work from home. They’ve partnered with over 50 food businesses so far to bring meal kits, food and drink hampers, sweet treats, and more straight to employees’ homes. They even have options available for nationwide delivery, and even some for international delivery!
Among their delicious offerings, you can find Christmas food hampers from Country City Catering, hot chocolate advent calendars from Whittard of Chelsea, DIY mulled wine kits from Astrum Wines and cheese boxes from Platter Up (pictured below):
City Pantry’s Financial Director Tom Squire told us: “Many teams have been working from home now for over half a year and will be missing social interactions with colleagues and friends. Whilst ‘normal’ festive celebrations won’t be taking place, a virtual Christmas party is still a great opportunity to engage and reward teams for their hard work!”
Another option for your Christmas hampers is Feedr—who are also offering a whole variety of goodies to send to your employees’ doorsteps. From complete turkey dinners with all the trimmings, to festive sweet treats, you’re sure to find something that your employees will love.
THE go-to name for easy-yet-delicious food deliveries (Deliveroo, of course!) are also doing their bit for the 2020 Christmas party. Their corporate arm, Deliveroo for Business, has unveiled an exclusive new Christmas range, complete with hampers, DIY kits and experiential events which employees can enjoy whilst they’re working from home.
With the most recent lockdown, Deliveroo for Business has experienced a massive 150% surge in home delivery orders this past month, and we’re sure that’ll only increase with their new festive offering. Made in partnership with customers’ favourite brands such as Majestic Wine, Dishoom, Paul, Pasta Evangelists, Pieminster and Zest Mixology, their Christmas range includes everything from cocktail making kits and cookery courses, to virtual master classes, hampers and live comedy and music. The new kits are perfect to get teams together, and thank your employees for their work this year!
Cook your own Christmas dinner
For more of an interactive foodie experience, why not try an online cookery class?
With Underground Cookery School, you can choose to whip up a traditional Christmas meal or pick something a little different—such as a delicious curry or risotto, depending on your team’s preference. All attendees will either be sent a box of ingredients in advance, or given a full recipe card which they can use to purchase ingredients.
The class is lead live by UCS’s chefs (1 chef to every 15 participants) and lasts for approximately 60 minutes—and by the end of it, you’ll all have a lovely meal ready to tuck into!
Cook an alternative Christmas dinner
Like the idea of a team cookery class, but want to branch out from the classic roast turkey dinner?
Described by TimeOut as “cyberspace culinary specialists”, the team at Diaspo also offer online classes—but specialise in cuisine from all round the world. Their goal is to celebrate community and culture through cooking, and do so by unlocking the experience and knowledge of those who have lived it.
Diaspo lets you cook along live, learning heritage recipes from skilled home cooks with more than 30 years’ experience. You’ll learn their steps, stories and stories, plus you can stop them with any questions. With teachers from Caribbean, Morocco, Mexico, Lebanon, India, Pakistan, and more, you’ll get to experience a new culture with someone who knows it best, and end with a delicious dish!
Online baking classes
The legendary team at Bread Ahead are also hosting some pretty awesome baking classes, if your team fancy channelling their inner Mary Berry. Their bakery school classes have always been super popular, but given the current situation, the team have now taken their classes online.
Workshops are conducted live, and there’s a whole variety of sweet treats you can choose between: such as doughnuts, amaretti, or brownies. Bread Ahead will even send all attendees a recording of their workshop afterwards, so they can continue to practice their new skills!
2. Lay on some top-notch entertainment
Looking for some activities to do before/after/whilst you’re tucking in to your food? Here are some unique, remote-friendly options:
Live music performances & workshops
The innovative team at Encore Musicians have recently launched a wide array of virtual music experiences, designed to inject some fun into your Christmas party. They offer everything from festive team-building activities (such as a rap writing workshop!) to live performances from award-winning musicians and DJs.
Working musicians in the UK have been hit hard by the pandemic, and these stats shared by Encore CEO James make for tough reading—so it’s amazing to see how creative and flexible Encore have been in adapting their model.
The full party experience
You may have (understandably) assumed that things like karaoke and comedy would out of the question for the 2020 festive season—but that doesn’t have to be the case.
This year, Hire Space will be hosting the biggest ever virtual Christmas party, with an anticipated 100,000 attendees. Their “Big Top” experience brings together comedians, musicians, actors, cabaret acts, magicians and more (many of whom face reduced income this season due to Covid) into a circus-style extravaganza, allowing event attendees to jump between acts from burlesque rooms to bingo. They’ll even have food and drinks delivered to your employees’ home addresses as part of the experience!
3. Use your brains
Fancy introducing a bit of intellectual competition into your celebration? Check out these virtual options:
Virtual escape room
Escape rooms are a popular choice with groups who love a challenge—but as is the case for so many businesses, the pandemic has forced them to close their doors for the foreseeable. The good news is, many of them have moved online instead! So you can still get those cogs whirring before you crack open the mulled wine.
For those who’ve never done an escape room before—the general premise is that you and your teammates are locked inside a room, and have a set amount of time (often one hour) to complete a mission and “escape” the room. To do so, you’ll have to find hidden clues, solve puzzles and work as a team.
The “Dome from Home” Crystal Maze experience
Remember the Crystal Maze? Well, now you and your colleagues can give it a go online, with the “Dome from Home” experience!
You and your team will be joined by one of the Maze’s very own Maze Masters, as you travel through a virtual tour of The Crystal Maze’s four zones. Along the way, you have to tackle 16 new puzzles and challenges created especially for the game, just like on the show.
Once you’ve completed your games, your entire team will face the new Virtual Crystal Dome, where you can grab as many (virtual) gold and silver tokens as possible!
4. Try a hands-on activity
If you fancy doing something a little creative with your team, there’s a whole variety of things you can do and make in the comfort of your own homes:
Online cocktail classes
Lots of bars who traditionally offer cocktail (or mixology) classes to companies are still offering these online. And you don’t need to worry about everyone having the right gear or needing your employees to buy gallons of different spirits each—because most of these organisers will send out the kits and ingredients you need right to their door.
One such organiser is Shoreditch bar TT Liquor. In their virtual cocktail masterclass, an experienced host begins by teaching your team some core techniques, before leading you through a number of cocktail creations. At the end, you’ll all participate in a virtual cocktail making competition, ensuring the experience is as interactive as possible.
They deliver all the professional kit and ingredients in boxes directly to your door, anywhere in the world via UPS international shipping. All you need to provide is the ice, a knife and a chopping board.
There are also non-alcoholic options available for each cocktail, to ensure that nobody gets left out!
Wine tasting experience
If you’d like to add a touch of sophistication to your virtual Christmas celebrations, how about running an online wine tasting experience for your employees?
With the Tour de France wine tasting, hosted by Benedict Butterworth, you and your teammates will each have 4 top-quality bottles posted to your doors. Then all you have to do then is chill the whites, allow the reds to breathe and immerse yourselves in a fun and educational wine tasting.
In the session, you’ll discuss what to actually look for when tasting, how wines are made and the factors affecting quality and style. You could even invite partners and flatmates to join the fun—and don’t be scared to start on the Champagne a little early!
Team painting events
Brush and Bubbles have also taken their experience online, and are now offering exclusive, professional art classes to encourage your team to get creative at home—with no expertise required (we promise!)
This is how it works: they’ll pre-film a one hour painting class which takes your group through step-by-step guidance of an original canvas painting. They’ll then send you a private link so that only your group can have access to it. You can also pick what you would like the group to paint in advance.
Brush and Bubbles will also send out bespoke art kits to all individual employees’ homes, which includes all the art equipment that they’ll need for the painting experience: including 2 x canvases (8×10), paintbrushes, 1 paint palette, 1 pack of acrylic paints, 1 can of bubbly and 1 artist’s beret!
Another awesome company running team painting workshops are PopUp Painting, who’ve already hosted classes for the likes of Facebook, Google and LinkedIn.
This year, PopUp Painting’s events are happening live over Zoom, and clients have the option to order an art kit for everyone taking part prior to the event. Once everyone is online, an artist will guide guests through a painting of the client’s choice. The events are lighthearted and fun—described as “social painting experiences” more than art classes. Guests are invited to unleash their creativity, wine glass in one hand, paint brush in the other!
Wild Life Drawing
For the 2018 Christmas party, the HubbleHQ team were visited by a couple of micro pigs at our office in Old Street, courtesy of the team at Wild Life Drawing. The pigs ran riot, we learned how to draw them, and it was all-round great fun.
Whilst you won’t be able to have the animals in your living room (probably for the best), the lovely team at Wild Life Drawing are still offering online drawing classes for your teams. In them, you can choose from a guided tutorial of an image of an animal of your choice, or sketch real animals online, with a live link to their partner sanctuaries, farms and aquariums.
What’s even better about the class is that they’ll also teach you about the animals and their welfare while you’re drawing.
5. Send employees a festive surprise in the post (or to their inbox)
Letterbox Christmas trees & bouquets
Bloom & Wild have been bringing colour and joy into thousands of people’s homes since they launched their letterbox flower deliveries back in 2013. Knowing that we could all do with both of those things more than ever right now, this year they’ve specially designed a “Christmas party in a box” you can send to your team members.
In your packages, you’ll be able send employees one of Bloom & Wild’s famous tiny Christmas trees, or a bouquet brimming with seasonal stems. You can then add extra treats such as cocktails, mince pies or gingerbread, and accompany it all with a personalised message. You can even co-brand your gift cards, if you like!
A Bloom & Wild delivery will show your employees you’re thinking of them, and is sure to bring a smile to their faces.
At-home cocktail kits
As we all know, it’s been an incredibly trying year for the nightlife industry, so it’s great to see companies like DUSK launching new, innovative products. Normally an app that helps you find the best restaurants and bars in London, DUSK have just launched their own AT HOME cocktail kits, which bring the best of London’s bar scene to people’s homes. And they make for a great team gift—especially if your company’s Christmas do usually involves partying ’til the early hours.
To make the kits, they’ve teamed up with Grey Goose and GRIND to make their iconic Espresso Martini. They’ve also got a Chocolate Orange Old Fashioned kit—which quite frankly, sounds amazing. All boxes come with shaker, garnishes, the lot, and also include “How To” guides and a QR code video link of expert bartenders showing you the moves. You could send your team the kit to enjoy at their leisure, or even host a cocktail-making session altogether!
Wellness gift cards
After such a stressful year, many businesses may be looking for ways to help their employees truly relax this Christmas. And Urban’s gift cards do exactly that!
Gift cards from the popular at-home wellness platform will give your team members access to any online or at-home service they fancy, from massage to manicures, fitness to physio. Urban recommends putting £75 of credit on each gift card, which is enough for any 60-minute massage or beauty treatment (and most other services)—and the credit is valid for 12 months, meaning you don’t have to worry about it running out during any future lockdowns!
6. Support a social enterprise
Another super valuable way to spread the Christmas cheer whilst also doing some good is to support a charity or social enterprise. One that is particularly close to our hearts is Beam—the world’s first crowdfunding platform to help homeless people train up and get into work.
With the support of charities and caseworkers—and importantly, the public—Beam ‘members’ raise money for training courses through online campaigns that help them pursue the career of their choice, whether that be as an accountant, a beautician, or a crane rigger. We’ve partnered with them before, and love what they stand for.
A nice touch this Christmastime could be to buy Beam gift cards to give to your employees, or even your clients. The recipients can then choose who to support on the Beam platform, get updates on that person’s progress via email, and follow their journey back into work—all in the knowledge that their donation has made a tangible difference this Christmas.
Is your business offering a service or activity that’s making it possible for teams to celebrate Christmas at home? If so, we’d love to know! Pop us an email at email@example.com, and we’ll get you added to our list.