Being alone doesn’t have to dampen your Christmas spirit. In fact, after the two years we’ve had, it’s more important than ever to stay connected with coworkers this Christmas—and there’s no reason remote teams should miss out on the fun.
Thankfully, there are loads of ways to swap the traditional festive knees-up for an at-home party that still leaves everyone feeling full of cheer, wherever they are. We’ve been amazed by the innovation and adaptability of so many companies that have made it possible for fully remote teams to celebrate the festive season together like never before.
This is also a really wonderful opportunity to support some of those businesses who’ve had a particularly rough time during the pandemic—especially as December is traditionally the highest-earning month in the hospitality and events industries.
So even if you can’t (or would prefer not to) get together, you can offer your fellow businesses some support whilst also giving your employees a great time, and everyone wins.
Below we’ve listed some fun virtual party ideas that promise to get your remote team feeling festive and make sure no one is lonely this Christmas. From micro pig life drawing classes (trust us on this one) to wine and cheese tasting, we’ve got you covered.
1. Lay on a Christmas feast
Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without filling up on delicious treats. And just because your remote team can’t get together for a meal, that doesn’t mean they should go hungry. The below companies are serving up some delicious ways to get everyone fed at home:
Who doesn’t like getting fun things in the post, especially at Christmas time? One great option for a festive feast à la 2021 is to send your team a Christmas hamper. Not only is it stuffed with delicious goodies, it also keeps the meal simple and doesn’t require a lot of kitchen space, skill or equipment from your team—whilst still being tasty. And you can tuck into your treats all together via a Zoom call!
One company making this possible is City Pantry, recently acquired by JustEat. They 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!
mong their delicious offerings, you can find wellness hampers from PEP Kitchen, an afternoon tea with a twist (did someone say sausage rolls?!) from Piglets Pantry, and even a selection of premium ready-to-pour cocktails (including non-alcoholic ones) from Boxtails, to really get the party started.
THE go-to name for easy-yet-delicious food deliveries (Deliveroo, of course!) are also doing their bit for remote teams this Christmas. Their corporate arm, Deliveroo for Business, offer hampers, DIY kits and experiential events which make for a great virtual Christmas party.
Made in partnership with customers’ favourite brands such as Majestic Wine, Dishoom, Paul, Pasta Evangelists, Pieminster and Zest Mixology, their range includes everything from cocktail making kits and cookery courses, to virtual masterclasses, hampers and live comedy and music. The new kits are perfect to get teams together and thank your employees for their work this year!
Learn how to cook
For a more interactive foodie experience, why not make it the whole focus of your virtual Christmas party? These companies are offering home cooking classes so that your team can whip up delicious treats together, even while they’re apart:
Underground Cookery School
With options including pan-fried chicken with a light curry sauce and the “greatest ever” roast potatoes (is anyone else’s mouth watering?), the Underground Cookery School is your one-stop-shop for virtual cookery team-building events.
You can choose to send your team a box of ingredients in advance or a recipe card they can use to purchase the ingredients themselves.
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!
Diaspo Cookery School
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, 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 to enjoy over a Christmas quiz or while being serenaded by carol-singers (more on that later…)
Learn how to bake
Bread Ahead School
More interested in baking sweet treats than cooking up a main course? The legendary team at Bread Ahead are hosting some pretty awesome baking classes, if your team fancy channelling their inner Mary Berry this festive season.
Classes at their three London bakery schools have always been popular, but their online option means that they can now be enjoyed as part of virtual Christmas parties across the UK (and around the world!).
Workshops are conducted live, and there’s a whole variety of sweet treats you can choose from, 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
Just because your teams aren’t together, there’s no reason to skimp on the entertainment. If you’re looking to add a little fun to your virtual Christmas party, there are some great options out there:
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 virtual party. They offer everything from team-building activities (such as a rap writing workshop!) to live performances from award-winning musicians and DJs.
And if you really want to dial up the cosy Christmas vibes, you couldn’t do much better than booking a group of professional carol singers to wish you a Merry Christmas (and a Happy New Year)—they’ll even throw in some festive interactive games too.
Take your team to a comedy club
After everything that’s happened over the past two years, we’re all in need of a good laugh. Thankfully, companies like Escape Team Events have stepped up to bring all the fun of the comedy club to your employees’ homes, wherever they are. Your team will be sent a private link before the event that allows them to connect to a secure video call like no other.
You’ll be greeted by your experienced host, who will introduce several different comedians who will each perform for 20–30 minutes, guaranteeing you a fun and interactive evening with plenty of laughs.
Not only is a virtual comedy night a great way to give your team the laugh they deserve, it also provides income to comedians in what has been an almost impossible time for them to make a living—so it’s a great way to give back to the entertainment industry too.
3. Get your brains in gear
Nothing says Christmas like a bit of friendly competition—and these days there’s much more on offer than a Boxing Day game of Monopoly. Inject a bit of festive fun into your celebration by pitting your team against each other with one of these stimulating 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 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.
There are quite a few to choose from out there, making it a bit overwhelming to know where to start—but Trapped in the Web and The Panic Room offer options for teams of all sizes, and both have special games which are perfect for a virtual Christmas party.
In fact, trapped in the Web’s Christmas Party Conundrum might have your team thanking their lucky stars they don’t have an in-person Christmas party to attend, as its premise involves being stuck in the office the day after the office party, with a peeved boss and a ticking clock to deal with.
Sure, you could put together a Christmas quiz for your team on your own—but who has time for that at the end of the year? Thankfully, there are a handful of companies who offer 100% remote Christmas quizzes and games—and they’ll make sure they’re enjoyable and engaging to boot.
London-based GOTO Events offer a whole host of activities to keep your team entertained (and ward off that Zoom fatigue), including their Festive Frenzy, an interactive experience loaded with solo and group brain busters and photo and video challenges.
Created by the founders of Museum Hack, famous for their unconventional museum tours (loved by Emilia Clarke, Lin Manuel Miranda and Tony Hawk, apparently!), teambuilder.com is another great option for your virtual Christmas party entertainment needs.
They have everything from winter trivia quizzes to a festive heist game, which will have you teaming up to solve a cosy festive whodunnit over Zoom. They’re based in the US, but offer events in several time zones, so your whole team can get in on the fun.
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, which means that even international teams can get together to whip up some Christmas cheer. All you need to provide is the ice, a knife and a chopping board.
You can choose from a variety of different classes, but there’s really only one choice at this time of year: the Christmas box. You and your team will put together a variety of cocktails inspired by the season—with some classic festive fun in between, of course. 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 celebration, 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 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! (It’s Christmas, after all).
Team painting events
Brush and Bubbles
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—and there are plenty of Christmassy options available!
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 or a festive accessory. Reindeer antlers, anyone?
And let’s not forget the most important part, the bubbles! They’ll also send everyone a can of Prosecco to get the party started.
Another awesome company running team painting workshops are PopUp Painting, who’ve already hosted classes for the likes of Facebook, Google and LinkedIn.
PopUp Painting’s events are now 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
Back in 2018, the Hubble 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. Wild Life Drawing also donate a whole 10% of their profits to a variety of animal charities—so it’s a great way to give something back this Christmas.
5. Send employees a Christmas surprise in the post (or to their inbox)
Sometimes, there just isn’t time to get the whole team together for a festive celebration, even online. And with more and more companies switching to work from anywhere policies with employees working asynchronously in different time zones, it can sometimes be hard to coordinate that Christmas Zoom.
Luckily, there are still plenty of ways you can give your team the Christmas treat they deserve. The following companies offer some great options for a Christmas treat your employees can enjoy at home:
You can brighten your employees’ day by sending them one of Bloom & Wild’s famous letterbox bouquets. You can also add extra treats such as cocktails, choccies and personalised messages. You can even co-brand your gift cards, if you like!
Naturally, the team at Bloom & Wild have put together some excellent Christmas options, including miniature Christmas trees, festive bouquets, and even festive cacti, complete with cosy knitted accessories.
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, the last two years have been an incredibly trying time for the nightlife industry, and they’ve been hit especially hard by missing out on business over the Christmas period. 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, last year DUSK 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 parties do usually continue ’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 shakers, 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 Christmas cocktail-making session altogether!
Bespoke gift boxes
London-based, Bookblock, offer a huge range of unusual and customisable gift boxes, including everything from sweet treats to tea to luxury toiletries. You can choose from one of their 30+ curated boxes, such as the End of Year Cheer box, which includes a mini prosecco and buck’s fizz, nibbles and an adorable potted succulent.
You can also opt to select products yourself to create the perfect bespoke gift box for your team. Bookblock will also let you add your own branding to the box, and they have a range of over fifty gifts that can be customised too (they’ve previously created beautiful bespoke boxes for the likes of Sony Music, Bumble and Burt’s Bees).
Each box comes with a personalised note card so you can thank your employees for their hard work this year.
Wellness gift cards
Many businesses may be looking for ways to help their employees truly relax. 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, so could be a great way for your team to get a much-needed wellness boost during the bleak winter months. Since Urban includes online options, this is a great gift for international teams too.
Gift boxes that support local businesses
Mighty Small is an online supermarket with a difference: they only sell products made by UK-based independent startups. With treats for all tastes including chocolate, snacks, prosecco and pre-mixed drinks, they cater to various diets (almost 70% of their offerings are vegan), so you can make sure your gift works for everyone.
You can choose to order your gift boxes online by choosing from a range of options depending on your team and budget or create your own fully bespoke boxes. You can also add a personal message to each box, so your employees know you’re thinking of them.
6. Support a social enterprise
Another super valuable way to spread the 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.
Instead of spending money on what would’ve been an office party, you could 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.