I’ve worked two remote jobs. One was pretty isolated. There were emails and some video meetings, but I was pretty much on an island. I honestly can’t remember the names of the people I “worked” with. Needless to say, my motivation was not particularly high.
The other one? Constant chatting. Lots of video meetings. Regular check-ins. Weekly Fun Friday questions to get to know each other. I made life-lasting friendships there, even with people I’ve only met once or twice in-person. I felt like part of a team, and my work reflected that.
With more businesses embracing a remote model, holiday team bonding is more important than ever. Having a remote office party is not just possible, but easy and fun. These virtual Christmas games help people bond, foster a sense of community, and can be informative and entertaining. It’s how you make remote workers feel like they’re sitting around the office together, filled with the warmth of the holidays.
The Best Virtual Christmas Games
Here are some of our favorite games for remote workers:
If you have remote employees, you have people from all over the country, maybe all over the world. You have people with different backgrounds and diverse experiences. Why not celebrate that with a recipe swap?
For a recipe swap, everyone draws a name, then shares one of their favorite recipes with their partner. Keep it simple, ideally something that can be made and eaten for lunch (even if it has to be heated up). Even better if it has a holiday theme. You can then have a video meeting where everyone shares what they made, whose recipe it was, and how successful they were in recreating it. Everyone will try something new, often with funny and touching results.
Lightning Round Questions
How do you get to know someone in real life? You talk to them, ask questions, and most importantly, you listen. How do you do that in a virtual office? Well, it’s the same thing, but… faster.
The Lightning Round question game is where someone asks a coworker rapid-fire questions that they have to answer without thinking. These can be open-ended or either/or and can go from the ephemeral to the meaningful. You can ask “Apple or Android,” “chocolate or vanilla,” “favorite day of the week,” or anything else.
For the holidays, encourage questions about a favorite gift, best memory, and if Santa is real or not. Do they prefer winter or summer? Best present ever? It’s a great way to have fun while getting to know each other.
Child Photo Guessing Game
This isn’t easy to do when you see someone every day, and it’s even harder with a remote office. But it’s fun. Everyone puts a picture of them as a child into a shared folder, then you number them. Create a document with the numbers and have everyone fill out their best guesses.
This makes you think about your coworkers as people with long, full lives and a head full of memories. As the reveal happens, you might learn that one of them had their hair turn blonde every summer at the beach. Someone else might be in the grandparent’s wood-paneled basement. You’re not just guessing a face. You’re filling in a life.
(Note: Since not everyone celebrates Christmas, don’t ask for Christmas photos specifically.)
Desk Photo Guessing Game
Everyone takes a picture of their desk and puts it in a shared folder. It’s the same deal as above, but it tells you about how this person lives now, how they work, and how they organize their life.
There will be some fun surprises with this game. I remember seeing an incredibly messy desk from my most organized coworker and being stunned. It showed me once again that people contain multitudes.
Two Truths and a Lie
This is a classic game where every employee writes down four facts about themselves… but one of them is a lie. Everyone else tries to guess which one is fake. This really makes you think about your coworkers—and yourself. What can you say that people would or wouldn’t believe? How well do they know you?
Ideally, this game will generate stories. One time, I was playing and someone said that they once hung out with a young Barack Obama, and it turned out that was true. That led to a lot of questions.
Remember that the lie shouldn’t be obvious. Don’t write, “I was the second man on the moon” (unless you happen to work with Buzz Aldrin, in which case, that’s awesome!).
Build a Story
Here’s a classic car-based game that you can take to goofy extremes. Someone starts a story, i.e. “Once upon a time, there was a reindeer who no one listened to. She lived in Phoenix.” The next person picks it up with a couple of sentences. Then the next person. And so on. This can be done two ways:
- Live, while video chatting during the party
- On a shared document that is spread around beforehand (or an email thread) and then read during the party.
If you really want to up the team-building, select an ending line to work toward. Everyone gets a turn (or two, depending on team size), and you need to find a way to reach that ending. You’ll be working together to build a story while still bringing your own personality.
This is the ultimate office holiday game, combining the fun of gift-giving with the excitement of guessing. The rules are simple: you’re matched with coworkers and buy each other gifts.
It’s actually really easy to do a Secret Santa Christmas game in a remote office if you use a good online gift exchange generator. People become anonymous Secret Santas to coworkers and get access to their wish list. They can ask anonymous questions to clarify (and to try to throw them off the trail). You can use sneaky strategies with your coworkers to make it harder for them to guess while still getting them the gift they want. The best generators also have an area for gift ideas, which lets you choose from multiple stores and buy directly from the wish list. Gifts can be delivered around the world.
Then you can have a virtual party where everyone opens their gift and guesses who their Secret Santa is. There will be a lot of wrong guesses as people try to decipher clues and facial expressions.
It’s exciting, fun, and a great way to bond. It’s as easy as it is rewarding. It makes a virtual office cozy. It makes remote workers feel like a true team.
The Elfster wish list generator brings together offices, no matter how remote. Our online Secret Santa generator makes community-building even easier. Don’t forget that you can now play office games on an iPhone app or Android app. Start a Wish List today!