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Five Covid-proof alternatives to the office Christmas party

With Christmas just around the corner, and the festive period looking slightly different this year, firms are having to come up with creative ways to celebrate and reward their people for all their hard work. With the traditional office Christmas party out the window, we look at five alternatives to mark the season.

Whether we like it or not, Christmas just isn’t going to be the same this year – and that includes the traditional office Christmas party.

The festive – and sometimes boozy – get-together is a staple event in many law firms’ social calendars. But it simply isn’t possible in a pandemic, even in Tier 1.

While some Scrooges will be pleased to forego the annual quiz, canapés and questionable karaoke, many employees will miss getting together with their colleagues to indulge in some festive fun.

But, all is not lost. Many organisations in the legal sphere and beyond have used this unprecedented situation to come up with creative ways to reward their people for their hard work this year.

A survey of 500 business leaders by Beam, a social enterprise that encourages organisations to sponsor a homeless person and fund their skills development, found that while 28% had not decided what they wanted to do to mark the festive season this year, many were planning social-distancing-friendly alternatives to the annual corporate get together. ‘Secret Santa’ was being organised by 20%; 17% were ordering take away meals for their teams; 15% were giving staff an extra day off; and 13% planned to host a Zoom quiz – dreaded by some.

Celebrations this year will be on a much smaller scale than what we’re used to, but there are still plenty of options available to mark the season. Thus, we present to you five alternatives to your traditional Christmas party – the majority of which don’t involve Zoom.

  1. A virtual pub

In a bid to help its staff socialise during England’s second lockdown, Keystone Law launched ‘The Keystone Arms’ – a virtual pub with a bar area, beer garden, pool tables, DJ booth and dance floor.

The firm is considering using the pub – developed by software firm Remo – as an alternative to a physical Christmas party. Staff can choose which area to enter or meet at, with each area holding a maximum of six people – fully compliant with the ‘rule of six’.

  1. A call with Father Christmas

Santa is set for a very busy December – which is perhaps why the Cardiff Law Society decided to host a Zoom call with the man himself on 21 November.

The event was open to its members’ children, perhaps budding lawyers themselves, and featured a 30-minute call live from the North Pole in which Mr Claus shared some festive secrets, revealed why the reindeer line up on the sleigh in a specific order and updated children on how the elves were preparing for Christmas.

Perhaps a similar call would appeal to some of the big kids at your firm?

  1. Gifts

With non-essential shops having been closed throughout November and online Christmas shopping now in full-swing thanks to the Black Friday sales, many staff are probably been familiar with numerous parcels arriving throughout their working day.

The pandemic has brought a raft of opportunities for online retailers and subscription box companies and many have turned their attention to corporate gifts. From customisable ‘Christmas party in a box’ offerings that include a miniature tree, mince pies and cocktail making kit, to subscriptions to services like Audible or Spotify,  there are countless options for firms that wish to send staff a treat.

  1. Carolling

Time to warm up those vocal chords! With the news that Christmas carolling can go ahead outdoors, including door-to-door singing, why not encourage employees to get together in groups of six (as long as they’re not in Tier 3) and spread some festive cheer?

Indoor singing, limited to formal performers, can also take place, so staff may want to get together in small groups to watch a carol service in a place of worship.

  1. Donate the money to charity

Let’s face it, 2020 has been a miserable year that has forced many people into poverty.

Emergency food supply charity The Trussell Trust has predicted it would need 846,000 emergency food parcels during October to December 2020. That’s one emergency food parcel every nine seconds.

It was figures like these that prompted Yorkshire-based law firm Gordons to donate its £10,000 staff Christmas party budget to The Trussell Trust and two local food banks in Leeds and Bradford.

Gordons partner and executive board member Victoria Davey said: “We are proud of how everyone at the firm has supported this initiative and have received some lovely feedback from our colleagues. They are very pleased with how we have turned the cancellation of our Christmas party into something which will provide so many people with food, help and support.”

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