Coming Together Without Getting Together – Tips for the Holidays
By the team at People First HR Services
With typical company Holiday parties, galas, dinners and dances off the table this year, the team at People First put their heads together to compile a list of activities that can be hosted virtually to engage your whole team. To celebrate as an organization, our people generated ideas for gift giving and discussed the implications of providing employees with cold hard cash that would have been allotted to typical Holiday Party festivities.
Holiday Party Alternatives
Activities to host over video conference software to keep employees engaged:
- Trivia Games – either created by a group of employees on software like ‘QuizUp’ or ‘Kahoot’ or looking to hire a local pub ‘Quiz Master’ to host for you.
- Bingo – there are several sites online that guide you through the process of creating your own Bingo game with printable Bingo cards for everyone to play along.
- Awards Show – handing out silly awards to employees for categories like “Most likely to have their dog make a Zoom appearance” or “Most likely to be dressed for work in a ‘business on top and sweatpants on the bottom’ ensemble.”
- Home-Based Scavenger Hunt – create a list of prompts like “find the weirdest thing in your fridge”, employees can vote for winners in each round.
- Cooking Class – provide employees with a basket of groceries and a recipe and everyone can cook, eat and enjoy together.
- Gingerbread Wars – in advance of the holiday party, send employees gingerbread kits and a list of rules to create a winning structure. Allow time for each employee to show off their stunning creation and encourage employees to vote on the winner (this could even be something that employees’ kids’ and significant others’ can participate in.)
- Virtual Escape Rooms – many sites provide a fun and interactive virtual experience that combine puzzle-solving, mystery and discoveries through the use of video conference software. This connects co-workers, families, and friends anywhere in the world.
Gifts – Shop Local!
Another option is to collect items from some of your people’s favourite local shops and makers. Items may include, specialty cheese, preserves and crackers, hand-crafted pottery, homeware items such as linen napkins, aprons, serving trays, to list a few. If you require more information about local vendors, check in on your local Chamber of Commerce.
Many local chambers have found creative ways to help shoppers connect with local businesses by highlighting them in gift guides on their websites along with their options for delivery or curbside pick-up.
Can I Simply Give my Employees Cash?
If your organization decides to provide money in Lieu of virtual get-togethers, you must consider the tax implications.
After consulting our accountants, they informed us that, generally speaking, as long as the combined fair market value of all gifts and/or awards granted in the year is under $500 then the employer doesn’t have to report it as a taxable benefit on the employee’s T4. If the combined fair market value of all gifts and/or rewards in a year is over $500 then the employer is obligated to input the value over the $500 threshold as a taxable benefit on an employee’s T4.
There are certain guidelines for what types of items are applicable as taxable benefits and what items aren’t, however, cash or near-cash items (re: things that function as cash such as gift cards) always qualify as a taxable benefit. We recommend looking into tax implications. If you require additional information, the Canada Revenue Agency website provides important guidelines regarding gifts.
From our team to yours we wish you a safe, happy, and restful holiday season, no matter how it looks this year. We look forward to a chance to safely get together again in 2021!