If 2020 forced us to adapt and make working from home “the new normal,” who is to say we can’t have our fun and play hard from home too? That’s a jolly #MOOD we, as a society that never stops working, should shift into because let’s just say we got time until we get the vaccine.
There are various ideas on how we can get through these last — but ever so tempting — holiday weeks in solitude while still celebrating those who have been by our (virtual) side all year long. Especially those friendly faces you would see daily at your workplace.
Co-workers are special. They could potentially hold a unique part of your heart — they are the ones who understand and feel your everyday happenings and know your daily drama. They’re one of the most special bonds you can create without judgments solely because you know the same work frustrations. They understand a completely different side of you and can likely become one of your best friends even outside the office (shout-out to my own two BFFs!).
Unfortunately, due to our unique holiday season locked inside, we will be experiencing a lack of co-workers’ baking goods, company holiday parties, company dinners, and cheerful, happy hours.
Let’s just snap out of that melancholy — It’ll be back in a couple of years. Let’s instead focus on the “now” and what we could do about it. How can we make the best out of this isolated time and still bring some holiday cheer? Here are some ideas. Let’s get creative this holiday season!
A digital white elephant, with a twist
If you are not familiar with participating in a white elephant gift exchange, it is basically contributing a usually general but useful (sometimes entertaining) gift, opening it in front of everyone, and you have the choice to unwrap your gift or steal someone else’s.
In this pandemic scenario, I would suggest setting a date for this white elephant party online. Create a raffle using a generator online, so now you have a person to send the original gift to. Once the gift is sent — and they can’t open it until the set date — the host can have each co-worker go one by one by opening their present and have the viewers see each gift and decide if they want to “steal” or unwrap the gift they received.
All is fair in unwrapping and stealing here. If you decide to switch out your gift or have your original gift ‘stolen,’ then just un-sanitize and send it over. A little more effort, but it’s doing the most with what you have.
The Elf on the Shelf theme challenge
Do you know those kinds of cute (or creepy, depending on your childhood) elves that people post on Instagram in different and sometimes odd positions this time of year? They are a holiday tradition called Elf on the Shelf, where people get creative and even create a story out of their elves.
An exciting and imaginative holiday game is developing a theme among your co-workers and sending photos with these elves portraying it. You can have everyone vote to be fair, whether it’s one winner or a series of winners.
The theme could vary — maybe positioning the elf as you at work or in a way that explains your job’s brand without using words. Whoever’s Elf on the Shelf image is the most creative and on theme wins a gift card or a bottle of their favorite wine!
If you check in-person at work occasionally
An option for those who still have safe weekly meetings in real life could be to make stockings and give each other sanitized goods, chocolates, or little gifts. Whether it’s mini hand sanitizers, masks — anything useful during this pandemic would be thoughtful and is always necessary. Why not brighten up the meeting with a little holiday spirit?
Virtual ugly Christmas sweater party
Even if it’s not a whole party, it would be fun having a meeting in the holiday spirit with mandatory ugly Christmas sweaters on! You and your co-workers could plan a Secret Santa gift exchange by using the generator online (with one designated non-participator or spouse for the sake of setting it up) and send your chosen co-worker a gift via mail. Upon the virtual party date, you all can have a happy hour and enjoy each other unwrapping the gifts.
Exchange recipes and do a virtually cook together
If your co-workers are close (or if there are a few of you, no judging here), one idea is to exchange recipes. Food is a gift and a blessing in itself. Exchange your favorite recipes and create a whole meal out of them and cook it together! You would all be connected on the virtual camera chat and help each other prepare an exact meal together to feel closer and enjoy it virtually. Embrace your favorite dishes.
Holiday karaoke game
I will always try to push karaoke, given the opportunity on real or virtual hangouts. Just think of yourself hitting Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande’s note on their song “Oh Santa!” Think about doing a duet during “Baby It’s Cold Outside”! All through Zoom and the winner of the best karaoke impression wins a drink from all their co-workers. Yes, we accept Zelle or Venmo. Get it, gurl.
Overall, it’s about creating these “unprecedented times” into “unique times” and going with the flow. While it is challenging to plan and schedule in with technology — and everyone understands that in-person hangouts are ideal — these little efforts turn into memories that will be appreciated and safe in the long run.
In a few years, these will be memories of an interesting and unexpected era that we managed to adapt to. Whether or not you make the best out of this solitude, the time will continue passing by. Why not make an effort to become or stay close to the co-workers who are experiencing a similar reality to yours?