No Holiday Party?! Here’s How to Celebrate Instead

Posted on: December 9th, 2020 by Kristen Miller

A Thought-Filled Approach to Reward Your Team

Last year your holiday party was perfect. Well, as close to perfect as it could be. You orchestrated a fancy gathering. Along with an impressive menu full of options sure to delight your team, your colleagues. 

The ambiance was on point. It was festive and cheerful. Upbeat, even. Full of smiles, glasses clinking in cheers.

You really outdid yourself. 

All the things your team has grown to expect with each holiday season. 

Enter 2020. Who would have imagined you’d be missing those people, the ones you used to see every day? And wishing for their company, longing for your holiday parties of years past?

This year, you are struggling, s t r u g g l i n g, to spread a little holiday cheer. You want to celebrate with your team. And they deserve it. They have really impressed you with their dedication and resourcefulness, with their ability to adapt. 

They have blown you away with their amazing response to a global pandemic.

And as much as you want to recreate that over-the-top holiday party they all love, and they all need this year, you know you can’t risk bringing everyone together. 

Have you seen the latest health numbers?! 

The good news? You can still choose happiness and cheer.

Even if your bottom-line is a little lighter than usual. And even if your business is booming, and your team has knocked it out of the park this year. 

Either way, you really want to celebrate your people ‒ your talented people ‒ that have given you and your company so much.

If you’re looking for a thoughtful plan to help you celebrate amid the chaos, I’ve got you covered.

Here’s how to plan your holiday party in 2020.

Think community. Donate and share your love.

This year more than any other you appreciate your community, the place you call home. 

As schools shifted to virtual platforms. As event after event was cancelled. You stayed home, away from the people and places you love. 

Oh how you miss that holiday concert you looked forward to every year. And your local chamber of commerce mixer. You even miss those early morning gatherings. 

What you wouldn’t give to stand side-by-side, freezing, shivering even, watching your hometown parade with pride as little ones giggle and dance. The anticipation, the magic. The bells ringing and people singing as Santa made his way down Main Street.

This year, with the money you may have saved from hosting the holiday party and from delivering those extravagant client gifts, I encourage you to think about your community. And donate that money ‒ and more, if you feel called to ‒ to your favorite local nonprofit. 

It’s a great way to cultivate a sense of community with your team, with your employees, your biggest supporters.

And you can make it fun. Maybe you have a company-wide vote to select a well-deserved nonprofit. Or maybe you create teams. You could go all out and have those teams create a short presentation on the nonprofit they selected, one that means a lot to them. 

“Nonprofits are mission-based organizations serving their communities. Today — and every day — our mission is to come together as a society and help each other. Do one small thing today to achieve that goal and we’ll get through this. Together.”

Source: Council of Nonprofits in March 2020

Give back to those serving your neighbors, your employees, their families. Show them that we are in this together.

Make an end-of-year donation to a local nonprofit. 

Food. It’s all about the food. 

Yes, your people still want to gather, even though it looks a little different this year. And they still want to eat. The emphasis here is on nourishment. 

Let’s face it, in years past the food was always the talk of the party. Yes, it will look different. But you have lots of options.

For starters, you could treat each member with a gift card to a local restaurant. They are easy to distribute and offer each team member the opportunity to select their favorite meal.

Another alternative are boxed meals. This works best if your team is local. 

Reach out to one of your favorite local restaurants, you may be surprised with their creativity and holiday specials. And let’s face it, they would love your business.

“Our industry operates on a small margin, which has been even more strained this year as we adjust to keep our community safe. My hope is that you can find it in your heart to give back this year so that we can be here to serve you for more years to come.”

‒ Toni Calderone, Owner of Tutoni’s Restaurant, Herb & Herd, Cantina, Aviano’s, and Presto! Scratch Pasteria 

It’s been a tough year for the hospitality industry. 

Just like you, and the nonprofit leaders in your community, they have been up at night wondering how in the world they will make the next payroll. How they will handle increased expenses, and when the next regulation or change will be mandated. 

And how they will adjust. Yet again.

These are good people. Business women, business men, mothers, fathers, little league coaches ‒ and sponsors. These folks are the backbone of our communities.

And they are feeling the financial impact. 

“The restaurant industry has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus mandates – suffering more sales and job losses than any other industry in the country.”

‒ Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs

As you plan your alternative to the holiday party, show your support to the restaurant industry and give your team something to talk about for years to come.

Gifts. Your team will thank you.

Who doesn’t like a surprise? A thoughtful gift can turn around someone’s day, week, and month. 

I received one recently, and it deeply impacted me. 

This Thanksgiving, I was on my own. My husband was out of town, my kids were in their respective cities and states ‒ one wrapping up her collegiate degree, the other working in his chosen field. With travel bans and safety precautions, we were unable to celebrate together. 

But a few close friends decided to surprise me with a gift. The gift of nourishment and holiday cheer. They brought a plate of Thanksgiving goodness to my doorstep.

It was a surprise and a gesture that I’ll always remember. In this year of so much loss, so much change, it was a welcomed gift. 

So this year, in addition to the seasonal bonus you give your team ‒  yes, they’ve earned it ‒ include a small token of appreciation. A little something that shows how much you care. 

It could be a small gift basket filled to the brim with locally made items. A set of luxury hand soap and lotion would be divine ‒ all of our hands could use a little pampering. Or a small set of office essentials, maybe an upscale notepad and pen.

“Covid has changed everything, including the way we shop and what we buy.  As a small boutique owner, I’ve willingly shifted what I source to become even more of a place of surprise and delight than ever before because that’s what’s needed in this world right now.  

Owning a small business has also allowed me the flexibility to offer unique ways to shop that make the customer feel safe and comfortable based on their own personal preferences.”

‒ Lisa Weigard, Owner of Soulshine Boutique

Bless your team and a local business. They’ve been through it, too. And would love your support.

Let your creativity shine. 

You could purchase a gingerbread house or cookie decorating kit from a local bakery for each team member. How fun?! Or a local experience ‒ a ticket to a drive-through light show with a snack ‒ locally made popcorn or pretzels. Or whatever your town is known for.

Look, you know your people. You know what will bring them a little extra joy this holiday season. So go on, shop local and surprise them. They will thank you.

Gather. Safely, remotely, celebrate as a team.

You’ve planned all the things. A heartfelt donation, food, and gifts. You’re getting excited for the holidays. For the end of 2020, and the start of 2021.

Now, it’s time to bring your people together. Virtually.

This isn’t just another virtual meeting. It’s special. Full of fun and smiles. And festive. So festive. 

Look, this may not be your strong suit. It definitely isn’t mine. But I know my people. And I know who excels in this area. In fact, we have a committee for such things. Yes, a committee.

My advice? Recruit your more festive talent to help you brainstorm. Or even better, to plan the whole thing.

A few ideas, to jumpstart your plan. 

First things first, schedule it. Send out the invite and label it something fun.

Next, think about the mood. The feelings you want the gathering to evoke. It’s not just another all-team zoom meeting. It’s a celebration. So play some festive music. Or wear reindeer antlers and your favorite tacky sweater. Or change up your digital background to bring the cheer. 

And make it interactive. Play games, sing songs, go around and share the things you’re thankful for. Plan an activity to encourage your team to join in on the celebration. And be sure to keep it kid-friendly.

This year is one for the record books. Your team will look back at this year, this holiday season, and remember it. The goal is for them to remember your efforts fondly. To know that in a year of change, of hardship, of loss and struggle, you were there for them. Your company was there for them. Just like they were there for you. 

So bring the joy. And the fun. And show your team how much they mean to you. 

Donations. Food. Gifts. It’s the trifecta.

Even though things look very, very differently this year, you can still reward your team. And strengthen your local economy. And gather, safely.

Let’s celebrate the people around us. 

And let’s support the nonprofits we love, the restaurants we love, and the local businesses we love. With all we have given up this year, we do not have to give that up.

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They are the backbone of the economy, serving childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director.

To learn more and to donate, visit


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Resources in South-Central Pennsylvania:

Give Local York Participating Nonprofits

United Way of York County Partner Agencies

York County Economic Alliance Members by Category