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With bated breath we all watch as 2020, with all its…complicated dynamics…fades into history. We see left in this most memorable year’s wake, much change and adaptation to the classic American way. Things like, leaving the house, or interacting with people, and in some circles even common civil discourse have changed in 2020 to the point of unfamiliarity. And alas, on its way out the door, 2020 has claimed one last cherished classic, the beloved and timeless Americanism that is represented by the holiday office party. 

The holiday office holiday party is a staple of American seasonal entertainment. These perennial gatherings show up in dozens of movies and hundreds of hilarious television episodes, all of which include the obligatory office jokester “sitting on the photo copier gag” which has become as much a part of the holidays as eggnog (in that no one actually sits on copiers or drinks eggnog though its joyfully accepted as tradition)! 

As real estate settlement services companies scramble to replace or amend their traditional holiday events to comply with public safety concerns and locally mandated procedures, there may be a general sense that the air has been let out of the proverbial party balloon. After all, the holiday office party was often a time of carefree celebration sporting an open bar, decadent food aplenty, and nearly everyone in a cheerful mood gathered close, some even brave enough to cast a tune in the air! Frankly, attempting to fit a party into the relatively narrow public safety guidelines of 2020 may be about as fun, festive, and carefree as scheduling a root canal! 

Yet, we persist. Such is our nature. In fact, many title insurance companies have opted for the now standard Zoom or Google Meet gathering, or various other online platforms that we have all spent hours helping friends and loved ones download and set up. This route, for many, may have lost a little sparkle after all the nights and weekends filled with online chats, happy hours, and game nights over the last year. 

On the other hand, this option asks very little of individual employees, as they can log on from the comfort of their homes, take part with friends and family in tow, wear slippers and comfortable attire rather than masks and plastic sheeting, enjoy easy access to their very own bar or fridge filled with their favorite delectables. Oh yeah, they may also come and go as they please as the end of the night is simply a quick click away.

Other companies are going at it very differently as a NY Times article pointed out. Rented double-decker buses filled with employees who are covered nearly head to toe in PPE sitting approved distances apart. Each employee is provided with prepackaged kits filled with snacks, rubber gloves and hand sanitizer. Oh, and singing karaoke into a specially bagged and sanitized microphone that is being passed around! 

Several other companies organized drive up winter wonderlands where employees stay in their own cars and enjoy shows and musical performances. One company provided binoculars and created a distanced scavenger hunt themed I spy game that employees could play from their cars. These much more expensive and involved options can surely act as an end of the year bonding experience and catharsis after a relatively challenging 2020. 

So, what will be the call for your company this year? Will it be perhaps a run of the mill comfy Zoom or maybe an elaborate PPE encapsulated bus ride featuring Beyonce and I spy? Maybe you will cancel the party all together? Or will your group simply throw caution to the wind and go the traditional route? Tough call actually. 

What the traditional holiday party had was something for everyone. The “wall flower” curmudgeons could belly up to the open bar and enjoy snacks and light conversation while the giddy outgoing types could rattle off the walls, dance and sing while persuading others to join. 

Some companies that opt for the more reserved Online party may disappoint a few employees that are accustomed to more involved end of the year festivities, while some of those companies that invest thousands of dollars on extravaganzas may offend team members that often pin on a smile and play along when they would rather be safe and warm at home. It’s always hard to please everyone all of the time.

Finding the right balance for your organization and your company culture is the key. Given the turmoil of this year, most people have learned a lot about the importance of adaptability and of making the best of a less than ideal situation. The point of company sponsored holiday events is to bond and reward loyal team members and sometimes their loved ones, so inclusivity is key.

Fingers crossed, most old traditions will be back next year including your group’s traditional holiday party, get together, meal or outing. Perhaps, the adaptations required by 2020 have even turned up some new traditions that you might carry on moving forward. Either way, the team at Anderson|Biro wishes you and yours a happy holiday season and an amazing bright and cheerful new year!