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October 2020 Newsletter
In This Issue
  • Thanks for Joining Us!
  • Think of the Reason and Consider Employee Needs
  • Get in the Festive Spirit
  • Gingerbread House Contest
  • Ugly Sweater Contest
  • Make It Personal
  • Virtual Cocktail Parties
  • Hosted Wine Tasting  Workshop
  • Virtual Cookie Recipe Swap
  • Virtual Christmas Dinner
  • Mobile Santa Pictures
  • Share Holiday Playlists
  • Coach's Corner: Supporting Yourself During a Covid Christmas
Nov/Dec 2020
Volume 7, Number 11

Thanks for Joining Us!

November is nearly over and December is fast approaching. With challenges all around us, we thought it would be a good time to brighten up some spirits and create a newsletter with a festive theme. December brings the Christmas season as well as plenty of other celebrations such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. During a typical year, it's a time of good cheer, social gatherings, and plenty of food and drinks. 

Let’s face it, the holidays are going to look vastly different for most of us this year. It has been a tough year for everyone on so many different levels, and we could all use a great big dose of vitamin cheer.

Some of us are working from the office, some of us are working from home, and the rest of us are stuck somewhere in the middle. Even though for the majority of companies and offices, traditional holiday celebrations are out for this year, this doesn’t mean that the festive vibe has to be out too.

In lieu of the traditional office holiday party we have some fun and festive ways you can celebrate in the office or online while staying safe!

Keep reading for more learning!

“Whether it’s pre-COVID or now, when you’re thinking about a holiday event my advice is always to come up with an event that’s aligned with your company values,” says Erica Keswin, business consultant and author of Rituals Roadmap: The Human Way to Transform Everyday Routines Into Workplace Magic. “That’s always a good way to start, whether again, it’s in person or remote.”
What do you hope to accomplish? You might want to allow employees time to relax or strengthen bonds. Or you might want to create a sense of normalcy by continuing some of the rituals your team loves. Let your goals guide you in planning, Keswin says.
Your remote team members might have roommates or family members in the same circumstances. They may be dealing with kids’ homeschooling. “When people aren’t going to an office party in person, they are still in their home environment virtually, and their significant others may find it hard to appreciate that they need to be on yet another Zoom call after hours,” says Lisa Jennings, chief experience officer at Wildly Different, an event production company. Therefore, it may be best to hold the event during work hours unless you’re involving family members.
Get in the Festive Spirit
The ideas are endless for creating some festive fun, whether your team is in-office or working remotely. Here are some to consider:
  • A Holiday Mask Competition is perfect for following safety protocols and having fun in the process. Have each staff create (or decorate) their own holiday-themed face mask and give out awards for the best ones.
  • Do a virtual holiday carol sing-along. You can also include other music genres and treat it like a karaoke night.
  • Plan a holiday-themed virtual scavenger hunt, murder mystery game or escape room, or find a company that offers this type of virtual service.
  • Host a virtual talent show. Ask workers to film themselves sharing a particular talent and then edit them into segments showcasing the talent of your employees.
  • Other games like trivia, holiday bingo, Pictionary or charades can also lend well to virtual holiday office parties.
Gingerbread House Contest
The gingerbread house contest: one of the most entertaining yet strangely competitive holiday activities. It is a cheap, easy, and safe way to get the whole office in on the merriment. Start with purchasing prebaked gingerbread house kits for your employees, then its every elf for themselves. Encourage staff to bring in additional candy and any other things they would like to use to construct their architectural masterpiece. The North Pole is really the limit! 

Once all the houses are built, have each employee take a photo and submit it online, set up a link and have staff vote for their favourites. I mean who doesn’t love a little friendly competition? 

This can easily work remotely as well; send the gingerbread houses to employees' homes and create a Zoom or Google meeting where you can all decorate together.

FOR EXTRA FUN: Set a theme like a Hawaiian Christmas or require something wacky that everyone has to incorporate into their houses such as a lego men, cheesies, or even paper clips. 
Holiday Feature Film
Image courtesy Everett Collection
Host a holiday movie afternoon in the office! This is a great budget friendly way to raise spirits in the office. If you have a larger office the movie afternoon can be split between departments, and spread out throughout the month to make sure everyone is adequately safe and distanced. Another option if there is not enough space to social distance, have the movie playing over a streaming platform and all the staff can watch from their desks or even from home!   

Don’t forget the snacks! To make the movie afternoon extra special provide a goodie bag and fill it with popcorn, chocolates, and any other treats. Yum!  
Ugly Sweater Contest
You know those horrid Christmas sweaters, featuring a felt Santa with a fluffy wool beard and reindeer with silver stitching around their antlers? We're talking about the sweaters in horrible shades of green and brown and purple - the ones your Grandma buys you every year and you throw into the darkest depths of your closet as soon as Christmas is over. Well, dig out those beastly sweaters, because this year’s Christmas party theme is “embrace the ugliness.”

Have all your staff wear or even create their own festive creation and make a day of it. Have everyone snap a picture of their sweaters and post it on the office chat, and staff vote for their favorite. This is also a great option if you are working remotely as everyone can join in.
Make It Personal
Purchase an experience for your employees – a virtual cooking or baking class, a wine tasting, wellness classes, arts and crafts supplies for a creative project and so much more!
Virtual Cocktail Parties       
With Christmas parties and after-work drinks almost certainly out of the question this year, virtual experiences and events are a great alternative way to engage and motivate remote working employees.

For instance, last month, Virgin Incentives ran a virtual cocktail making class with their team, sending out different ingredients to everyone at home and a cocktail shaker. They connected online so they could ‘cheers’ virtually and share their experiences of making the drinks.

Although activities like these aren’t exactly what we imagined we’d be doing at this time of year, businesses must get imaginative and find new ways to excite employees and inject some fun into their day to stem feelings of isolation.
Hosted Wine Tasting Workshop
Take the virtual drinks party further with an organized wine tasting workshop. Sign up staff to the workshop where they will have the wine sent out to their home address. The host will talk to the group through a wine tasting.

Alternatives include whisky tasting, gin tasting, or cocktail masterclass.

Or if alcoholic tastings aren't appropriate for your organization, there are mocktail classes, tea and coffee tastings, even chocolate tastings!
Virtual Cookie Recipe Swap
Instead of sharing real cookies, why not start a cookie recipe swap instead? Fun new tradition!  Set up a shared Google drive or other sharing app, and have everyone post their favourite holiday recipes. 

BONUS: Consider asking some of your staff to lead a virtual baking class!
Virtual Christmas Dinner
Who doesn't love some fancy treats during the holidays? 

Send out a mini hamper of edible treats to the group and hop on a group video call to marvel at the deliciousness you’ve ordered and chat over tasty festive food. Or go for a classy afternoon tea for something a little different.

BONUS: Have everyone attend in fancy clothes to give an elegant feel to the event
Mobile Santa Pictures
Visits with Santa in offices, malls, or other venues will likely be impacted greatly in 2020. Why not have Santa come visit your employees instead? Have Santa and a helpful Elf visit out on side on people's porches or gardens to maintain safe distancing, then have their pictures taken with the jolly old man. Send the digital pictures to each employee as a fun keepsake, and create a digital album to share virtually with the whole office. 

Share Holiday Playlists
Most people have their own music that they collect and enjoy. The holidays are a perfect time to encourage your employees to share their personal playlists. The gift of music is one that can spread a lot of joy through the office and to your remote teams at home. 
Coach's Corner: Supporting Yourself During a Covid Christmas

Holidays of all sorts will be upon us soon and it can be an exciting time for many – but it can also be challenging for many as well, especially during COVID-19.

While it can be a time for celebration, family, food and fun, it can most certainly also be a time when we feel alone, disconnected or isolated. Especially while the world manages a pandemic. Some families won’t be able to get together and this year, the holidays will be different. And this will affect some of us in negative ways.

So  as a leader, what do you do?  You give yourself the gift of self-care by taking small, positive steps can help you feel better and more in control.
  • Understand what causes stress and recognize your own feelings.
  • Be patient with yourself and those close to you – it takes time to manage feelings.
  • Learn how to manage your reactions to these experiences.
  • Focus on the things you have control over.
To keep your stress in check, it can also be useful to participate in activities or try relaxation techniques. Here are some examples of activities and techniques that have been proven effective:

Hobbies. Discover a new pastime or take part in an activity that you enjoy.
Physical activity. It has countless benefits for your health and wellbeing that go beyond better stress management.
Yoga, breathing exercises and meditation. All these techniques are highly effective for managing stress.
Visualization. Visualization techniques tap into your ability to form positive mental images.
Maintain daily routines and do things that normally give you pleasure.
Get enough rest and sleep.
Eat healthy foods.
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About Wendy Ellen Inc.
Wendy Ellen Inc. specializes in providing human resource and benefits management skills to small to mid-sized companies on an as-needed basis. From recruitment, Human Resource policy development and legislative compliance, employee retention and engagement, individual advisor/coaching, succession planning to employee development and performance, Wendy Ellen Inc. will help you protect your most valuable resource, your people.
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