The holiday season is upon us!

Though many organization have returned to office operations at least part of the time, a large number of teams are working remotely or in a hybrid model. With those conditions, maybe you’re wondering if it’s even possible to hold your company’s annual holiday party.

It is — with a little imagination. Your office holiday party may not be the same, but even if you can’t get together in person you can still keep your team engaged, recreate some traditions, and spread a little cheer. Here are a few ways to celebrate. 

Set up a gift exchange.

Secret Santa or Secret Snowflake gift exchanges are a holiday classic that can easily be carried out in person, or online with a little advanced preparation. Set a budget and use an online generator to keep the name drawing anonymous. Elfster, for example, not only assigns people, but also lets you send anonymous messages and gift tracking information to your recipient. Fix a due date for when gifts should arrive by, then open them together during a video meeting. You can even choose a theme, such as ugly sweaters, handmade ornaments, cookie swaps, or charitable donations.

Book a performance.

One way to prevent a virtual gathering from becoming just another Zoom meeting? Hire a performer. “The thing most parties have that meetings don’t is entertainment,” says Heather Roonan, Content Manager of GigSalad, an online event booking marketplace. “There’s no reason why you can’t have a live musician, an emcee, or comedian … just like you would have at your in-person party.”

In fact, many performers have pivoted to make their acts work remotely. And if you use a platform like Preciate Social, which has virtual socializing products that mimic real party settings, you can even have performers interact with the audience or play background music while attendees mingle amongst themselves.

Eat, drink and be merry.

There’s nothing better than raising a glass or sharing a meal in good company. Consider hosting a team wine tasting, cooking demonstration, or cocktail-making class for your team in-person or on Zoom — or, get competitive. See who can make the most spectacular gingerbread house or hold a cookie bake-off. The latter works well in small groups, since you’ll want to mail everyone a few cookies so that they can cast their vote.

It’s easy to plan these kinds of food-based virtual experiences through platforms such as Cozymeal or online culinary schools such as Rouxbe. Some businesses offer pre-packaged kits that they’ll deliver to your team members before the event, so you don’t have to coordinate everything on your own.

Plan an activity.

Another way to get everyone in on the cheer is to organize an activity that they can participate in from anywhere. Whatever you decide on — be it a game of Bingo, trivia contest, round of “Name That Tune,” or Pictionary challenge — just be sure and make it holiday-themed to add to the fun. If your team is into crafts, you could hold an ice-sculpture-making class outside or learn how to make holiday villages, ornaments, or wreaths.

If you have a large group, you might want to consider using an interactive platform or hiring a moderator. “Having an activity or program will add structure so that the event feels inclusive to everyone, even the quieter members of the team,” says Charlie Harding, CEO of Let’s Roam, a team-building event company which offers a virtual holiday party package. “By having a facilitated game [in which] participants are working together in small groups, the level of participation increases exponentially.”

Consider the alternatives.

If an in-person or online gathering isn’t an option, there are still other ways to celebrate. You could spend the money saved from not booking a venue or catering on individual gifts, such as take-out dinner gift cards, branded swag, or home entertainment packages that include games, movies, and cookie-decorating kits.

Or, think outside the box and plan an experience that lets people stay in their cars. For example, host a drive-in concert, find a drive-through holiday light show, or go to a drive-in movie theater to watch a holiday classic together. 

Just remember, even though your holiday party may look different, it will feel just as meaningful as always if you focus on what matters: coming together as a team and letting every member know that they’re appreciated.