FGIA employees gathered for Christmas Week online this year.

With holiday lunches or evening parties eliminated during COVID-19, companies are still finding a way to gather and celebrate their accomplishments throughout this challenging year.

If you were thinking about hosting an in-person gathering at work, The Centers for Disease Control does have a page on its site designated to “COVID-19: Holiday Celebrations,” which covers everything from social distancing, limited attendance, staggered attendance and more.  And yes, “Offer to let people attend virtually.” The companies we spoke to opted for the all virtual option, and still had an abundance of fun in the process.

The team at the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) typically gathers all its employees together, even if they work remotely, at their Illinois offices each December. This typically happens around Christmas and an array of fun activities is planned. This year, Christmas staff week happened via Zoom, according to Angela Dickson, FGIA marketing and communications director.

“Each day we had a coffee/cocoa break in the morning and a happy hour activity (bingo, jeopardy, crafts, etc.) in the afternoon,” she said. “On Friday, we spent the day together playing games, watching The Santa Clause and judging the gingerbread houses made by staff, as well as recording our holiday greeting to members. Some of the fun and winners can be seen on our Facebook page. We all love being together to celebrate the holidays, but we still had a lot of laughs connecting online.”

What about all those Secret Santa exchanges that happen in offices across the country—COVID-19 didn’t stop them. At Fenetech, based in Aurora, Ohio, the company’s customer care department hosts a White Elephant gift exchange each year. This year, the exchange happened virtually.

Sadly, though some events cannot be moved online. Fenetech usually has a company-wide holiday party “off campus” in January (so as not to interfere with other holiday celebrations), “but, sadly, we’re foregoing it for 2021,” said Kelly Springer, media and marketing specialist.

Windows USA in Royal, Ark., also had to eliminate holiday events that used to bring its employees together.

“This year was certainly one unlike any year before it,” said president Mike Allbritton. “We have worked diligently to protect our employees from any type of spread and in doing so, it has certainly limited or altogether eliminated the personal community that we are so used to sharing.”

Employees still celebrated, but this year it came in the form of Christmas bonuses, gifts and food, and although employees were unable to celebrate together, Allbritton still found a way to show employees his gratitude.

“Inside of their bonus was a company card and a letter that I wrote a few weeks ago to celebrate each one of them,” he said. “It was a crazy year but one that we are so thankful that we persevered successfully because of the amazing resiliency of our staff.”


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