Top 5 Covid Holiday Party Alternatives


Ah, the office holiday party.

How will we be able to end the year without getting together with our co-workers, eating and drinking too much, then doing or saying something we shouldn’t do or say? It’s a holiday tradition in most offices and we have all been there. Everyone starts the night looking great and put together, but by the end of the night, women are carrying their shoes and men’s shirts are untucked and unbuttoned one button too many – what a scene.

As you can tell, company holiday parties are not something I am going to overly miss in 2020. While some companies (especially smaller organizations) may still throw a party, most have been cancelled. It has left employers wondering “What can we do instead?”. Since I have been asked this question several times over recent weeks, I thought I would compile some of my favourite suggestions.

When considering options I thought I would focus on what most of us really need after this crazy year called 2020 – body, mind, soul, food and wine!


It’s been a rough year and people have had to get creative with at-home entertainment. Many of us have exhausted Netflix, Youtube and even TikTok. Employers are also looking for better ways to support continuous learning efforts. For this, a subscription to may be a great answer. There are lots of professional masterclasses that may help in the workplace but what’s more exciting are the personal classes like cooking with Gordon Ramsey, poker with Daniel Negreanu and learning to write from Margaret Atwood. Invigorating an employee’s personal creativity could be just what they need to refocus.


We have all walked around our neighbourhoods a hundred times this year. Maybe it’s time to get outside (socially distanced, of course) and take a hike with your team. Make it fun and add some team building exercises. Here in Nova Scotia, perhaps take a trip to Cape Split (if allowed by provincial travel guidelines) and create check points along the way where you can complete team building exercises or puzzles. Have a picnic at the top or dinner at the bottom but make it fun. You will feel ready to start 2021 with a change of scenery and some fresh air.


Anxiety was high for everyone this year and being isolated hasn’t helped. Look at ways you can encourage self-care and mediation this holiday season. Perhaps it’s a subscription to the Calm App or another online program. Pair it with a gratitude journal or (if a small team) hand pick a book you think they would love. Have a larger team? Perhaps an annual subscription to Also, if not covered by your benefit plan, look at offering services like massage therapy or reflexology to help your team realign their bodies and soul.


And now to my favourite part…



I think we all think of food when we think of celebrating the holidays. Just because you aren’t getting the team together, doesn’t mean you can’t have good food. Order everyone a Hello Fresh  box (or similar service) or take out from a local restaurant (great way to support local business!). Check out some of the options from Kitchen Door including buffet or boxes turkey dinners to virtual cooking classes for your staff. Or have a chef curate an online cooking lesson. Once everyone has some food, hop on a Zoom call and make an evening of it. Have fun, play games or just gab. If your team is large, use the break out rooms so people can socialize as if sitting around tables.





If your team loves wine, arrange a virtual tasting. In Nova Scotia, check out Benjamin Bridge’s virtual tasting. While I have not tried their wine virtually, I have toured this vineyard several times and they have yet to disappoint. It’s also another opportunity to support local. Of course, it doesn’t have to be wine. If spirits are more appropriate, you can shop online at local distilleries like Compass, Halifax Distilling Co and Ironworks. Other popular beverage choices include Chill Street offering Canada-wide shipping options and New Scotland Brewing Co offering free local shipping. You can have products delivered right to their door. However, if you are going to choose this option, please ensure you know your employees tastes well, preferences and tolerance may vary.

For more ideas, check out this 24 Days of Taste Blog published by Taste of Nova Scotia.


It’s been a rough year and it’s certainly time to reflect on the positives, celebrate and get ready for 2021, whatever it may hold. No matter what you decide to do, it is important to recognize your employees in a safe, fun and considerate fashion. We will get through this together and I am sure you will all be back at a party next year.

Stay safe, have fun and I will see you in 2021!


Sarah Mullins is the founder and CEO of uptreeHR, an outsourced Human Resource team for small to medium sized businesses. Sarah and her team are based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.


To book a complimentary 30-minute consult with the uptreeHR Team, click here.


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