In our increasingly remote-work and hybrid-work world, remote office parties have become the norm, leaving many leaders wondering how to make a remote office party fun for their staff.
1. Set the Tone for your Remote Office Party
Throwing a Zoom Office Party may be challenging, but with the right planning, you can create an event that is fun, engaging, team building, and morale-boosting.
In order to make your remote office party fun, you will need to determine what your goal for the party is and the type of mood you want to create.
Depending on your goal, you will want to set a different tone to support your purpose.
|If your goal is to:||Then your desired mood may be:|
|Build team members’ connection with each other||Friendly, interactive, cheerful|
|Create a deeper sense of belonging for the participants||Thoughtful, caring, reflective, curiosity|
|Have some fun||Jovial, humorous, joyful, jubilant|
|Reward great work||Celebratory, more formal, elevated, triumphant, gratitude|
|Give the team a sense of closure at a specific milestone||Ceremonial, transitional, sadness, openness, optimistic, expressive|
Your Role in Setting the Mood
Once you know what your goal is and the tone you want to set, your first and best tool for setting the mood is YOU. You are a powerful force in setting the tone for your virtual office party. Your team will follow your lead.
If you’re jovial, fun-loving, engaged, thankful, and/or relaxed, they will be too. If you seem bored, listless, or unengaged, they will be too.
- BONUS TIP: It takes a bit of a boost to project high energy on a Zoom call, so make sure you “kick it up a notch.” If you have a Leadership Coach, you can work on creating a state of mind to get into when you’re hosting a remote party.
Using Music to Set the Mood
Playing festive or meaningful music is another powerful way to get team members into a celebratory mood and make your remote office party fun. Times to play music include when participants enter and exit the party, to close a thank you or speech, and for an upbeat celebration point during the party.
Hire An Emcee to Set the Mood
In addition to strategically using music, selecting an emcee for your team or hybrid party can also help set a festive tone for your party. Utilizing the right emcee will give your party structure, cohesiveness, panache, and flair.
2. Select a Theme for Your Virtual Office Party
Having a theme for your party can definitely add to the fun. The participants will share an experience together and amp up their vulnerability, which will build their relationships.
You will want to match the theme of the party with its purpose.
Some ideas for themes include:
Company-Culture Related Themes
You can choose a company-culture related theme that centers around:
- A new product or service
- Characteristics of your ideal customer
- How you’ve helped a big customer
- How you’ve crushed a competitor
- Company values
Company-Culture related office party themes can create the sense of belonging that remote workers so desperately desire and it reinforces your employees’ sense of purpose.
Fun themes can be a way for participants to find things in common, provide a creative outlet, and offers a way to learn about others.
- Example: A team at a medical device company that made heart valves used hearts as their theme for a celebration, as a reminder of the good they were doing in the world. Their team leader even videotaped patients talking about how receiving a new heart valve changed their lives.
- Hawaiian Luau
- The Beach
- TV shows (e.g., Gilligan’s Island, Star Trek, etc.)
- Flamingo or other animal themes
- Retro 1960s, 1970s, 1980s
- Future Inventions
- Your favorite car
- Mardi Gras
- Glow in the dark
- Holiday (e.g., Halloween, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Ground Hog Day)
- Favorite Shoes
Some ways to express the theme of your remote party include asking participants to:
- Change their video (Zoom) background to a fun themed image they choose or that you send them
- Decorate their office with themed decorations (or send them themed decorations to put up)
- Wear a themed hat or outfit
- Sending themed food to participants (or send them a Door Dash Certificate to order themed food)
- Playing themed music
- Having a themed activity
3. Select Fun Activities for Your Party
Activities that can work well in a virtual or semi-virtual setting include:
- Murder Mystery
- Trivia (e.g., use an existing game or create your own company trivia, team member trivia, hometown trivia, customer trivia)
- Show and tell:
- Each team member brings a picture or object that represents something important to them
- Have participants change their Zoom background to something that represents a hobby, an interest, a value, their favorite color, or their favorite vacation spot
- Dress up as your favorite character
- Conversation-starter games
- Office Madness
- So . . .
- We! Connect Cards Icebreaker Questions
- Create your own conversation starters, possibly aligned with your theme
- Two Truths and a Lie
- Office Superlative Awards (Best Number Cruncher, Best Question Asker, Early Bird, Racehorse, 5 More Minutes, Best Celebrator, Office Clown, Best Vocabulary, Team Tech Expert, The People Whisperer, Future CEO, Contagious Smile)
- Costume Contest
- Dance Party
- You’ve got to know your audience for this one!
- Draw a picture of:
- The team
- Your customers
- Your favorite place to be
- Favorite song
- Have team members send an mp3 of their favorite song prior to the party. At the party, play a snippet, then have the person describe why it’s their favorite
- Values Questions: what they value most, what drives them, their secret dream
- Food Tasting Party (e.g., Hot sauce, coffee, tea, chocolate)
- Send a kit to each team member before the party
- Virtual Painting Party
- Make Something Party
- Decorate a cookie
- Make a gingerbread house
- Cook something (the same dish)
- Pet photo competition
- Share a childhood photo or an embarrassing photo
- Share a funny memory
- Answer a silly question
- Watch a TED Talk and discuss it
- Watch a comedian
- Watch a short section of a TV Comedy
4. Provide Entertainment for Your Virtual Party
Though it may feel like your entertainment options for a virtual party are limited, it is an essential part of making your remote office party fun, and there are actually plenty of fun ideas:
- Ask your team to showcase their talents
- Hire a performer
- Small band
- Guitar player
- Barbershop Quartet
- Hula dancers
- An interesting or inspiring public speaker
5. Send a Gift for the Celebration
You can send a gift to the party participants prior to the party. This takes some pre-planning, but will definitely create a fun atmosphere.
Here are some ideas of how to use gifts to increase the festive atmosphere and amp up the positive impact of your party. Gifts also show you care about your team members.
You could send:
- The same gift to all the participants:
- A company-branded gift
- A hat (maybe with a funny slogan)
- A shirt
- An attractive coffee mug
- A goody bag (Successories)
- Spa kit
- Gift cards (each team member could share how they plan to spend the gift card)
- Gifts to be enjoyed together virtually (e.g., chocolate, fruit, nuts)
- Individualized gifts (select a specific gift for each person):
- A mug
- Water bottle with a picture on it
- Warm scarf
- A toy/stress toy
- A puzzle
- A picture
- A t-shirt
- A hat
- Personalized post-it notepads (maybe with a phrase the person says often)
Example: For our annual New Years Party, we sent a mug to each team member that represented something about who they are. We sent Sherri Cannon, PCC a cat mug, Chris Sier, PCC a “Dream Big” mug because that was her favorite area to coach clients on, and Vicki Rich, ACC a “BEE” Mug because she reminds herself to “BEE” Curious.
This helped our team members learn something personal about each other. It also showed that we cared and acknowledged their individuality, as well.
At each meeting since we drink out of our mugs. It brings a stronger sense of camaraderie and fun to our meetings. And, we have fun picking out a mug for each new team member as they join our team.
Secret Santa-Style Gift Exchange
Another gift-giving option is to have a Secret Santa-style gift exchange (each team member is assigned another team member to pick out a small gift for).
- BONUS TIP 1: You can provide a list of company-funded gifts for participants to choose from on Amazon. Send the list a few weeks before the event to ensure the gifts get there in time.
This gives co-workers a connection to each other and doubles as an activity you can do during your remote or hybrid team work-party!
- BONUS TIP 2: Have the participants open their gifts together during the party. Sharing a positive experience is also a great way to increase the sense of belonging and camaraderie in a team.
6. Create a Virtual Team Celebration Ritual
A sense of belonging is a fundamental human need that leaders should try to fulfill in order to create stronger, more cohesive teams.
Examples of common “celebration rituals” include singing happy birthday and blowing out the candles, the “Gatorade bath” in football, exchanging jerseys, or displaying a red white and blue for 4th of July.
Shared rituals can create a strong sense of belonging, connection, and celebration for teams; and will make your remote office party fun for everyone.
- Example: Pro football players have celebration rituals they do when they make a touchdown.
You and your team could do a dance, shimmy, dab, high-step, sing a song, or do a Hamilton-type rap together.
Team members could also honk party horns, shake tambourines or play a kazoo or their favorite musical instrument.
Throwing confetti is also festive (as long as everyone doesn’t mind cleaning it up afterward).
Playing a certain clip of celebratory music can also be effective.
- BONUS TIP: Create a tradition of beginning and ending every party with your shared ritual(s).
7. Be Personal, Create Connection, and Be Creative
Remember to make it personal (in a good way) where possible by spotlighting your team members’ accomplishments, skills, their positive personality traits, and what makes them special. Also, help them share with each other so that they can leverage that knowledge to get to know each other on a deeper level.
An Example of Being Personal:
Our team members live all over the U.S. and Canada. To help our team members get a sense of where everyone lives, we created a map with markers for each team member.
Also, be creative. Use the ideas in this blog post as a jumping-off point to create your own activities, traditions, and party ideas.
We hope you’re able to use some of these tips to throw amazing remote office parties. Please send us pictures of your parties if you can.
Check out the rest of our 3 part series on Remote Office Parties: