I got my first job out of college in 2001. At our first Christmas party, we had a few people who worked in an office outpost at another city call in via speakerphone for a toast. We just had to assume they had a drink in their hand.
Needless to say, there wasn’t much of a holiday contingency plan for remote employees. That’s because the idea of remote employees was pretty absurd back then. Sure, some techno-futurists were predicting it, but it seemed impossible to have a truly remote workforce.
Well, times change fast. Now, more and more workers are remote, and some companies don’t even have a physical office. That can make the holidays tricky; what do you do if coworkers can’t gather together in the same room for fun and games? The good news is that the same technology that enables virtual workforces makes it possible to host a Secret Santa for remote employees.
Technology has changed things. But the magic of Secret Santa proves that you don’t have to be near to be close.
Why Office Holiday Parties Matter
Look, I know that things can get stressful at work sometimes. You might not always feel like partying. But that’s exactly why office parties are important.
After all, you’ve worked hard all year. You’ve worked next to people who you see for one-third of every day, five days a week. It’s nice to blow off steam and see people in a more casual setting. It’s important to build morale and community.
This is doubly true if you have a remote workforce. When you don’t regularly see each other face-to-face, it’s even more critical that you set aside time for some team bonding. People who feel closer work better together, and it is possible to foster those feelings of closeness in a virtual setting.
A holiday party isn’t the only way to make people happy about their jobs, of course. But it’s a start. And a Secret Santa for remote employees is one of the best ways to bring people together.
Host a Secret Santa for Remote Employees
We all know the rules of Secret Santa. Everyone draws a name, and you become the Secret Santa of the person whose name you’ve drawn. They make a list of things they want, then you get them a gift. They unwrap the present and guess who gave it to them.
It’s good holiday fun, but it’s also a great way to bring people together. See, if you play with an online Secret Santa generator, you don’t have to be in the same room. Everyone can sign up online and have their names drawn randomly. People can browse items online and select from some of the world’s top retailers. These lists can be shared online, then giftees can buy directly from the list and ship the present to wherever their partner is located. You can choose to have an office-safe Secret Santa theme or just a free-for-all. It’s up to you.
As a remote office, you may not know certain facts about your partner. If you’ve never met someone in person, it’s going to be pretty hard to accurately guess what size T-shirt they might like! But with a good Secret Santa platform, you can ask anonymous questions to get clarification. You can also use the Secret Q & A feature to try to figure out who your Secret Santa is or to throw other people off your scent!
If you want a longer party, remember that there are lots of other holiday games you can play as a remote office. Some of these include:
- Recipe swap
- Child photo guessing game
- Build a story
- Two truths and a lie
- Ice-breaker games
These can be fun games to play before opening presents. If you’re on video, you can unwrap gifts on camera. Or, if work schedules and time zones don’t allow for a joint party, people can open gifts at home and post pictures of their gifts.
Then it’s time to guess the identity of your Secret Santa! Maybe the ice-breaker games helped you hone your guess. Or maybe you have no idea. But as soon as you learn who your Secret Santa is, you’ll have one more friend.
Bonding Remotely Through Secret Santa
Joy, togetherness, and surprise are at the heart of Secret Santa. It’s designed to make you think about other people. You think about the gift you’re giving someone, and you think about the gift you’re getting. You’re trying to guess by asking questions, and you’re trying to hide your own identity.
Either way, you have to really consider your coworker. You have to see them as more than a name in a chat window. It’s an opportunity to really bond.
Times are changing. Work is changing. But the need to feel connected with your coworkers hasn’t changed. A Secret Santa for remote employees is one of the best ways to do that. After all, bringing people together will never be outdated.
Elfster has everything you need to host the perfect remote office Secret Santa party. Our elves are also experts at remote Secret Santa parties since Elfster employees themselves are 100% remote. Start a Wish List, buy directly from that list and more with our online Secret Santa generator. Don’t forget that you can also pick names and add to your wish list on an iPhone app or Android app.