As snow starts to fall and actually stick this December, at least for those of us in Iowa, I’m sure many businesses and families alike are beginning to wonder about how to achieve the Winter Wonderland this year. Of course we all want to stay safe and obey guidelines, but then how do we spark something new this holiday season? Keeping in mind that ZOOM fatigue is real, how do we show our employees and co-workers appreciation without adding to their already overextended screen time? How do we connect with clients and show appreciation so that those we value most don’t feel like an attitude of “out of sight out of mind” has kicked in?
Not to worry – we at Epiphany are sparking experts and have a few ideas on how to help you and yours create meaningful connections this season. While we are missing faraway friends and family as well as seeing our co-workers and clients in person, we don’t have to sacrifice happiness and joy because of social distancing. Here are a few of ideas that will work well for mixed company! Let’s get right into it:
Virtual Movie Night
This one’s a fun one all year round, but especially when you’re watching movies that have just that little bit of wintry magic. Luckily, with the times, there are plenty of ways to watch together without the togetherness cropping up! Websites and Chrome extensions like Netflix Party and Watch2gether are making watching stuff with friends, family, and teammates all the more convenient. Netflix Party (now known as Teleparty) is a chrome extension that is an easy one-click install and is soon coming to Microsoft Edge. It allows you to watch on Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. It comes with a text chatroom feature, as well. Watch2gether, on the other hand, is a website where you can make a virtual room to invite your friends to. Once in the room, each person can search and select videos to watch from websites like Youtube. It doesn’t support Netflix or Hulu, however. And of course, all else failing, you can always do what I used to in high school: get on a video call with your friends and count down from three to press the play button!
Playing games together has never been more connected – both to our clients, co-workers, friends and family, and to the internet! Jackbox makes party games that are meant to be used with our technology – phones, laptops, tablets, consoles, and whatever else. One person in a group would have to make a purchase – $29.99 in the United States for five memorable and hilarious games – and for everyone else, those games would now be free to play. Whoever bought the games is a host of sorts, and everyone else only needs to be able to access jackbox.tv on their browser. With that, up to eight people can play in the same game. The only things you need other than that are a reliable voice call to get you through the fun, and some way for each player to see the host’s screen. Any meeting service with a screen sharing feature would work for this: Zoom, Skype, and Discord come to mind. With that, your team, family, or friends can have hours and hours of fun and games!
Holiday Dinner & Happy Hour
Eating together at the same table may not be viable this year, but there’s another way to share a filling meal or happy hour with each other! Schedule a time and send out a recipe or two over email – having everyone make the same dish before they log on to your favorite e-meet service will make for a fun and unique experience. You could send over ingredients list and instructions for creating and enjoying a signature drink. You can also make it a sort of faux-potluck: have everyone make whatever they want and talk about it on the call! Food is a tried and true way to bring people together, and while that may not be the case in a traditional sense this season, it still can be with our new technological ways to keep us connected.
Still set on giving your crew gifts? That’s fine too! Our suggestion for local teams, friends, and family is a ding-dong ditch: set the presents on their front steps when they’re home and driving away before they see you! It can be fun to watch people open their presents or baskets, but the mischief of this little positivity prank can be just as satisfying. Don’t forget to mask up! But if that’s not for you, businesses can always consider partnering with another local business – something like a gift shop, chocolatier, candy store, flower shop, or even the local mall – to set up a time for separate members of your team to come in and pick something up from you or shop around with a gift card for that business. It’s a good way to stimulate the local economy and support our local small businesses while also staying safe – with only a few people in the store at your reservation time and plenty of masks, of course!
Cocoa and Carol
This one is another fun one. Send out hot cocoa packets and caroling sheet music in advance, along with a scheduled time to meet. Then everyone can have hot mugs of cocoa and be ready for some music in front of the computer! Be ready and wary, however: singing together over the internet can lead to some hilarious desync in the music. Our advice is to let it happen and to let it heighten the fun of the experience. Just like singing with your dad – a little bit behind or out of tune lends to the unique fun of it all. If you get tired of trying to sing in sync with each other, though, you can always turn it into a karaoke night!
This is one for those of you alone or with a few family or pod members in the house with you this season. It’s not an internet party hack or way to meet up with faraway friends, but rather a chance to connect with yourself and the very few people around you right now. When it falls dark some night this winter, consider going for a drive, if you’re able. Go for a drive and look at all the lights on all the houses and take a deep breath.
Remember that humanity is capable of creating wondrous things, of shining, of glowing, of sparking. Take that spirit back home with you. Things can be tough, scary, and frustrating right now. We at Epiphany are with you. We get it. But take those deep breaths and find peace. You have this.
And with that, have a wonderful winter. All of us at Epiphany wish you happy holidays, and may you spark everything joyous this season!