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The ultimate guide to covid-WFH-socially distanced Christmas

November 13, 2020

That mouthful otherwise known as Christmas 2020 is definitely going to be looking a lot different to what we’re used to. Usually a month of excitement, extravagance and excess, December is the excuse we wait for all year round to dapper up and do something different.

Whilst it’s tempting to strike more plans off the calendar, the office Christmas party means so much more to people than just a knee’s up and too much food especially in 2020.

After a tumultuous year in isolation, bringing everyone together for a festive event is an opportunity to show gratitude for one another, boost morale, and build community spirit. Ending the year on a high note is important, and it’s a great way to set the vibe for 2021. 

The latest from the government

At the time of writing, the UK is in lockdown with restrictions remaining until the end of November. Whilst the government has put in measures to allow for a normal christmas as possible - It doesn’t look like regulations are going to be lifted in time. As a result, social distancing and the rule of six are likely to be in place for the festive season.

So, in true 2020 style, the end-of-year celebrations are likely to be virtual (although at least masks and hand “santa-tiser” not required).

What’s the lowdown on festive tax? 

Thankfully, the government has maintained the rules around expenses for social events and parties. Therefore companies can have a tax-deductible festive party worth £150 per person, if the event is open to all employees and for team-building purposes. They are also allowed to give a tax-deductible gift of up to £50 - and of course Ben is there to help to give your team £50 that will work for them. You can find out more on the government website here.

12 party plans - one for every day of Christmas

2020 has been a year of firsts, so if you are feeling a little unsure, uninspired for this year’s do or on a limited budget, we’ve put together a few “i-deers” that will ensure you have a cracking team Christmas.

Ugly jumpers, plenty of food and drink are still mandatory for online get-togethers and with these extra fun (and some strange) activities yule be having a Christmas that will be one to remember.

1. The Food Fiesta

No Christmas party is complete without Christmas dinner - in whatever form! Luckily, there’s  plenty of options including Deliveroo, Feedr and City Pantry when it comes to feasting together virtually - from hampers to full fine dining experiences there’s something for everyone and any budget.

Company Christmas Lunch

2. The Bake Off

We all secretly think we could show Paul Hollywood a thing or two about Christmas puddings and chocolate logs. You don’t need a tent to get everyone baking at this time of year - why not organise a showstopper cake off or rope in an expert for a virtual class to teach your team how it’s done.

3. The Taste Tester

Continuing the food theme, there’s a whole host of taster sessions on offer at the moment from cheese and wine tasting to cocktail making - it’s interactive fun at its finest. Don’t brie left behind, check out companies Virtually Together, Exclusive 88 Entertainment and Virgin Experiences at Home for event lists.

4. The Secret Santa

No office Christmas is complete without Secret Santa, but the logistics might be a little more challenging this year. Check out Draw Names to anonymously pick your recipient from a virtual Santa hat. Participants can also enter a few wish list items to avoid being on the receiving end of a pair of festive socks. Easily cover the cost of the gifts by using the Ben card, to allocate each person the same set budget to spend on the presents.

5. The Sing Off

Everyone has their go-to karaoke song and naturally the Christmas party is the perfect occasion for your colleagues to show how tuneful (or tone-deaf) they are. You never know, you might have a Frank Sinatra or Mariah Carey in the team - that’s all you want for Christmas.

employee sing off

6. The Festive Flex

This year has definitely been the year for the home workout. We might not all be at Joe Wicks level yet but flexing in the front room has been a whole lot of fun. Whether you’re a bunch of fitness fanatics (or not) there’s plenty of classes available from yoga to dance all with a festive twist.

We host a wide range of free remote activities (as well as retail discounts for those last minute shoppers) on Ben Free, click here to find out more.

Company dance off

7. The Ultimate Challenger

We weren’t going to mention the pub quiz because along with a side of banana bread, they have more than had their moment. Everyone loves a competition though, so why not get everyone into teams and set a series of challenges - Articulate, charades and even beer pong have all gone online - and crown your ultimate office champion.

8. The VR Thriller

If you’ve got a bit more in the budget and want to go next level virtual, how about taking your team to an escape room, CSI challenge or even a VR paintball to get the team outside, whilst staying inside. Check out Wild Goose, Hysteria Escape Rooms and Panic Room Online for a list of events.

9. The Live Entertainer

Goats have been dropping in on work zoom calls all through the pandemic. It’s not just animals that are gatecrashing the party - a bunch of celebrities are offering their entertaining services to give you a party to remember.

Arts and culture has taken a big hit this year and one way to support our performers and creators is to host a live concert: jazz, opera, DJ set or a traditional pantomime - whatever the vibe - you’ll get to jingle all the way to a wonderful Christmas.

10. The Awards Show

The end of the year is a great time to reflect. Honour your colleagues achievements in an Oscars style awards ceremony and give everyone a moment to shine, from the “best one-liner” to the “always late” team members. Reward winners by topping up their virtual Ben card, that way they can treat themselves to something from their own wishlist.

11. The Team Adventure

Travel has also been greatly missed this year, so how about sharing a festive adventure with your team on a virtual tour? Take a stroll hitting up the top spots from A Christmas Carol with London Walking Tours. Fingers-crossed for snow in virtual London!

12. The Group Gifter

Tis the season for giving of course, and giving makes everyone feel great! Donating some of your budget to causes that need it, is a great way to mark the Christmas season. Both Unicef Paddington Bear parcels and Operation Christmas Child are running this year as well as Beam - all great initiatives. Or why not give to an organisation close to your employees’ / company’s heart.

That’s all folks

As with all party planning it’s hard to please everyone, why not set up multiple zoom “grottos”, with a handful of different events so that people can sign up to the activities they want. Simply send out a schedule in advance with the various zoom links to register.

Whilst we might not be rocking around a Christmas tree in person, we hope that this list has given you some inspiration for this unusual festive season. However big or small you go with celebrating, stay safe and have fun.

Merry Christmas!

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