As we gear up for what feels like the strangest Christmas in living memory, we’d be forgiven for not feeling very festive.
But while many offices remain closed, the annual Christmas party has gone online in an attempt to salvage some festive cheer- and it might be just what we need.
Many companies are planning online events, immersive experiences and activities to make this year’s virtual offering a memorable one.
Event companies such as Hire Space have adapted their business model of large scale venue hire and are offering virtual party packages so that companies can customise their celebrations.
Teams can opt for private and shared virtual experiences, which include themed party rooms for guests to move between; some with dance floors and live performers. They can cater for small groups to large teams numbers and some come equipped with a virtual cloakroom and smoking area.
On operating post-covid the Hire Space website explains: ‘The way that events operate is likely to change long-term, with virtual and hybrid events taking on a major role in the ‘new normal’.’
There are also dinner party options where food and drink can be delivered to your door, with guests choosing drinks and pre mixed cocktails. One Fine Dine delivers freshly cooked, haute cuisine meals simultaneously to guests as part of its Christmas party package.
Other virtual experiences include wine and gin tasting, with kits sent out to team members who then host sessions online. Sipsmiths and the Little Gin Company are among those offering a bespoke cocktail experience.
For an interactive, team activity, Bake With a Legend will deliver virtual baking sessions hosted by past Great British Bake Off contestants. Guests will enjoy an exclusive masterclass experience and can chose festive confections from gingerbread houses to frangipane mince pies, as well as selecting a legendary baker to guide them through the process. They will also receive a full refrigerated recipe box with all the necessary ingredients.
Those seeking more traditional festive crafts can opt for wreath-making, which has also gone online. Many florists are offering DIY kits with guided tutorial sessions on Zoom.
Sarah, 36, a florist from London, has had a huge demand for wreath making classes over Zoom. She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Wreath making has become really popular, it’s a lovely, creative thing to do with friends.
‘The DIY kits have everything you need for a basic design. From a natural base you can be as creative as you like with the decorations and add anything from peacock feathers, baubles, apple slices, cinnamon and natural foliage.
‘There’s something more personal about doing it yourself and making your own design.
‘Because of the pandemic people have had more time to do crafts from home. it’s a nice thing for friends to do over Zoom with a glass of wine.’
The pandemic has meant that employers have had to think more creatively about festive celebrations, during a year where teams and work colleagues have largely been apart.
This year will feel especially important for rebuilding morale and it’s also a chance for employers to show that they value their workers at what will have been a challenging time for many.
Francesca, a clinical psychologist, says: ‘Trying to keep an element of normality and the rituals we have usually have at Christmas will be very important for mental health, when everything around us has changed so much.
‘We’re social creatures and young people especially need social interaction.
‘Online celebrations are no substitute for the real thing, but tech can work in our favour. It allows people to see each other which will help combat feelings of isolation and loneliness.’
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