‘Tis the season to celebrate — your team! As the year comes to an end it’s time to pay tribute to each other’s accomplishments and take a moment to build relationships for the year ahead. Recognizing your remote employees and colleagues’ triumphs is important in order to boost morale and create strong connections. Ultimately, you want your team to head into the new year feeling energized and motivated.

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Virtual team celebrations, however, aren’t always easy. It requires a little more planning, as you can’t be as spontaneous and just show up to the office with cards or ‘goodies’.

So what does it take to enjoy time together during the holidays?

Simple, fun ways virtual teams can celebrate

  • CREATE A HOLIDAY CALENDAR. Different cultures celebrate in different ways and parties are an important part of the ritual. Get to know your workmates by knowing how they celebrate.
  • PARTY ONLINE.  Video conferencing tools are awesome these days. Getting out of work mode and connecting on a person level is important to build trust.
    • Decorate your background
    • Play games
    • Wear clothes that are in the holiday spirit
  • HAVE A VIRTUAL DANCE PARTY. Cue the music, wear a funny hat and prepare a few party questions to get people talking. The Happy Melly team selects a DJ who plays a song – and everyone gets up a boogies. The Zapier team picks “a popular song off Spotify, asked everyone in the company who was online to pull up Apple’s Photo Booth app and take a five-second video of themselves dancing, then upload it to Giphy and create a GIF of it. Then, they created a montage and posted it in the company-wide Slack channel.”

Happy Melly team virtual dance party

  • PLAY GAMES. Games are easy to play online, and an easy way to build team spirit.
  • DECORATE YOUR DESK/SPACE. Try adding decorations to your desk or space to bring out the holiday spirit.
  • WATCH A MOVIE TOGETHER. Who says you have to sit next to each other?
  • ORGANIZE A WHITE ELEPHANT GIFT EXCHANGE. Join in on the fun and surprise you workmate with a present.
  • HOST A RECIPE EXCHANGE.  A fun way to share cultural holiday cuisine.
  • COSTUME CONTEST. Just because we can’t be together in person, doesn’t mean we can’t dress up! Costumes can be a fun way to bring smiles to an online gathering. Costume contests are as easy to do online as they are in person.
  • DONATE TO A CAUSE TOGETHER. A great team building event.
  • SEND E-CARDS. Just letting team members know that you’re thinking about them can help build the holiday spirit.

Happy Melly 2016 virtual holiday party

More virtual holiday party resources

Tools for remote teams

53 – Perks And Gifts For Remote Colleagues

122 – Holiday Parties For Virtual Teams

104 – Virtual Team Celebrations

Work Together Anywhere Handbook



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Graphic design by Alfred Boland


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Original transcript

Hello everybody and welcome to episode number one hundred and twenty two, this episode is being released on the twenty sixth of December and so I thought it would be appropriate to do a sort of a holiday special because it’s actually something that I get asked about a lot. Like how do we celebrate as a virtual team and how do we do holidays together? So this week we are going to spend a little bit of time talking about holiday parties for virtual teams. Now when we are working with global teams it’s an opportunity to learn about a whole bunch of holidays. So the first thing that I recommend for a virtual team is to create a holiday calendar together and just map out where all of the holidays are for your virtual team, it’s very handy because then you’ll know when people will be working and when they won’t be working but it’s also a fantastic opportunity to learn about each other’s cultures because holidays are all about culture. All about food, and tradition and rituals, for example India has Diwali which is a festival of lights and the US has Thanks Giving and there’s Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day. All of these great opportunities to learn about each other and the most obvious thing that comes to mind when we think about holidays is parties and celebrations. So how do we have a virtual holiday party? Well two things, one is I talk about celebrations in depth, virtual teams celebrations in depth in episode number one hundred and four and I talk a lot about gifts in episode number fifty three, perks for remote employees. So I’m not going to go too much into celebrations or gifts but instead we are going to really just dive a little bit into hosting a virtual holiday party. There’s a few ways that I’ve seen teams do this, the most common way that I’ve seen is everybody shows up on a video call together and they’ve got silly hats and they’re showing of the different foods that they usually have for the holidays. The Happy Melly team has been known to have some virtual dance parties together. So a virtual team meeting is a great way to celebrate together, you can see each other, you can share things visually and it’s usually a lot of fun. Other ways that I’ve seen people do this is asynchronously like on Slack for example or other instant messaging tools and I also just recently read about a team that had a party on Facebook, so that involved posting pictures and posting videos and just sharing experiences with each other on Facebook. Bree Reynolds from Flex jobs back in episode number fifty six talked about how their company had a cookie exchange, so they just exchanged cookies amongst the company. You can also do this kind of thing with white elephant gifts, so everybody picks somebody on the team for whom they have to buy a gift and then you can show off the gifts that you get either with a picture or of course through a video conversation or in a Slack or Facebook group. If you’re looking for some fun team building exercises that you can try with a virtual team get in touch with doctor [inaudible – 03:28]. I interview him in episode number seventy four, he’s got some great online team building treasure hunts that you can try. The other thing that you can try is a virtual icebreaker, so for that you can go to virtualicebreakers.com and if you want to hear my interview with the creator of virtualicebreakers.com you can go to episode number fifty two. Other things that you can do together is a recipe exchange where you share recipes with each other, now that can be really fun across cultures actually or you can decide to donate to a cause together as a team. That can be a really great team building experience and of course as exciting as the virtual world is we cannot forget about getting the team together in person when possible. Over and over in the interviews that I had is that you just can’t replace the bonding and the team building that you get when you’re hanging out together, drinking a beer or sharing a bowl of nachos. So if you can get people together in person, but if you can’t I hope you’ve enjoyed the number of holiday party ideas I’ve given you today. If you have your own ideas or your own traditions for what you do with your virtual team, I would love to hear about them, please get in touch. You can find all the information at collaborationssuperpowers.com. That’s it for today, I hope you enjoyed it and wherever you are in the world I wish you a happy holiday. Stay tuned next week for the next super power hour, what does your virtual office look like. A great way to start the year and if you’re looking for a good deed to do then go to iTunes or Stitcher and leave a review, it really helps in the promotion of the podcast and it makes me very, very, happy. A big thanks to our awesome podcast producer Nick the podcast monster, you can hire him to make you a star at podcastmonster.com and a big holiday thanks to our dazzling designer Alfred Boland, and you can hire him to make you look cool at bolandan.nl. Alright everybody until next week party on and be powerful.


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