For this year’s holiday get together my partner, Avi Zanjirian and I worked alongside our amazingly innovative Director of Operations, Julie DiVita, to plan an event that not only lived up to past years but also supported a newly 100% remote office community that hasn’t physically been together since earlier this year in March. 

It goes without saying that this was quite a feat to accomplish as finding new ways to engage a virtual office has become increasingly challenging.

We had some serious hurdles to overcome when considering that the quality of the chosen venue and ability to mix and mingle were major contributors to the success of past holiday parties. Additionally, in the past we would include a Kris Kringle pool of gifts and we wanted to make sure that element remained this year.

The challenge, of course, was how do we channel all of that into a virtual event? Using the expertise of our talented team, along with handy technology like Zoom, we were able to host a virtual holiday party that could rival one from years past.    

To make it work we got everyone to plug their laptops into their family TV for better viewing – a decision which ensured remote staff who usually had trouble attending were there alongside their families –  and provided gifts to all children under 18. By holding the event virtually, we were still able to have a spirit of togetherness despite interactions being limited to virtual staff meetings for the past few months.

Planning-wise once we got the logistics sorted the next casualty of the evening to address was the Kris Kringle tradition. For this fun holiday tradition, we counted down in a number drawn order and allowed participants to exchange the gift they opened for any of the others already opened. Naturally, the person with the last number had their pick of the loot. The suspense of waiting to see if you would get to keep a gift you liked became a highly anticipated part of our holiday experiences.

To make sure we were able to keep up with that particular tradition we used the Elfster app to play a ‘Secret Santa’ gifting game.

Using the app each participant was assigned a ‘giftee’ who most likely had a wish list uploaded to the app, but many of the ‘gifters’ bought something thoughtful instead. While some of the suspense was gone using this method, carefully considering the best possible gift built comradery among our staff and families. 

In lieu of those high-end Manhattan restaurant meals we would usually enjoy together, each family was given a stipend per person to purchase takeout food. Some ate before, others ate during, but I personally ate after it was all over. 

Knowing that we couldn’t just rely on gift-giving, food, and conversation to keep everyone entertained we decided a paint night was the best option for us. After spending time with all the families on the screen and watching the children open their gifts, we commenced with a virtual paint session hosted by Nikki from Paint With Me.

With Paint With Me, we were able to have everyone participate in a guided peacock painting group activity. The materials for the activity came by way of paint kits complete with acrylic paint, brushes, and canvas delivered by mail at least one week prior to the party.  

As a founding member of Czarnowski &Beer LLP, I have many holiday parties in my repertoire and Avi at times reminds me that my days go back before he was born.

It has been a pleasure to serve the firm and I am so impressed that the holiday party we held was so well received. 

I’m currently sending out holiday greetings to clients, friends, and colleagues and felt it was important to share this experience while the image is still transfixed in my mind. We all could use a little extra holiday spirit and cheer, as well as wishes for the new year as we close 2020.

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