The Plus guide to hosting an amazing virtual holiday party

How we planned our second annual holiday party for our remote team.

Last week, we hosted the second annual Plus holiday party. We’re a remote-first company with a team of 10, so we can’t just rent a venue, get a photobooth, and hire a caterer for the holiday party.

Instead, we try to be creative and create an experience that highlights our unique remote-first company culture and brings people together over video.

It’s not easy to create a fun environment and ask people to “socialize” over Zoom, so here’s our guide on how to plan and host a great virtual holiday party!

Plan out the main activities, and assign owners for each of them

Every successful holiday party begins with a slide deck!

We blocked off 90 minutes on everyone’s calendars because we wanted to have time to do a few different activities and give everyone a chance to connect before the end of the year. 

The main things we wanted to do at this year’s party were:

  • Play a few Plus-themed games
  • Share some of the stories and accomplishments from the past year 
  • Give everyone a cool holiday gift

After coming up with a rough outline, different people took a first pass at planning each of these activities, and then we came back together to do a final pass, create a slide deck to narrate the event, and make sure all of the materials were ready before the event.

Make the event feel like an experience

Opening ceremonies at the Panera Bread.

Instead of dropping everyone into a Zoom room, we “hosted” our holiday party at Panera (we have a running joke on the team about how everyone hates Panera — except for me 😆).

Our design team put together a couple of custom Zoom backgrounds, which was a fun way to start the event so that it didn’t just feel like another meeting.

Design a couple of custom games and activities

Our team enjoys playing games on Fridays during our virtual ‘happy hour,’ so the overall story for the party was a competition where we play different games to earn points and then redeem them for prizes at the end of the event.

Here are the games we ended up playing:

  • Fark Fank™: One of our designers built this great Monopoly-inspired board game (in Figma) where you roll a die to move around the board and pick up Plus-themed cards that referenced different events that happened during the year at Plus
  • Codenames: We created a custom word list with inside jokes and topics related to our product and broke into teams to play the most esoteric of Codenames ever (“what clue can I give for ‘DeviceScaleFactor’ that won’t make someone guess ‘pixel ratio’?”)
  • GeoGuessr: This is one of our go-to games for Friday happy hours, so it also made an appearance at our holiday party! We broke into different teams and played a few head-to-head games to earn points for prizes

Create some artifacts to commemorate the year

Last year during the NFT boom, we thought it would be funny to “mint” everyone an “NFT” and gift it to them at the holiday party. (This year, we considered doing something related to generative AI, but the NFTs are really fun, so we just stuck with them again this year.)

We found an artist on Fiverr and commissioned them to create a custom “NFT” for each person on the team. Each of the NFTs comes along with a story about the person, so the process of “minting” the NFTs is also a great time to highlight different projects people worked on during the year.

Last but not least, we convert all of these “NFTs” into custom Slack emojis so we can use them as reactions in our company Slack during the rest of the year!

Give everyone something fun!

We switched venues for the after party.

While we started the holiday party in a relatively modest setting, we found out that the owner of this extravagant Bahamian penthouse recently vacated his condo, so we decided to take it over for the gift-giving part of the party. 

The finale of our virtual event was the top 3 finishers from all of the games got to pick a gift from the “Champion Tier” of our prize list. Everyone else got to pick something from the “Regular Tier,” and everyone went home with something fun for the holidays!

(Btw, in the process of putting the prize list together, we think we created a pretty incredible gift guide. Check it out here if you need gift ideas! Champions Tier gifts are ~$300–400, and Regular Tier gifts are ~$150–200)

After all of the gifts were chosen, we were already a bit late according to the schedule, so people hung around for a little bit longer to chat, and that was it!

How we build a great remote-first culture at Plus

If you’d like to learn more about how we approach company building at Plus, check out this article on how to build a great remote-first culture or our secrets on how we use icebreakers to connect with all of our remote teammates

If you’d like to share any ideas or feedback on remote work, send me a message on LinkedIn!

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