Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Virtual Holiday Work Party

The 2021 holiday party season was an interesting one—here's what I learned.

Last year, I prepared for family gatherings over Zoom and added an extra bow or two to make gifts feel ~fancy~ before I shipped them off. I made my family’s favorite holiday recipes (okay, I may have eaten homemade tiramisu over the sink instead of on fancy plates) to find a sense of celebration in a year that didn’t feel super celebratory. The holiday season looked and felt different. But the one silver lining? It helped me focus on and cherish all that I did have: my family’s overall health, my two cats Betty and Bowie, and my espresso maker.

As Marco’s Head of Business Development, I saw our customers maintain that same focus as they planned their annual holiday parties.  Whether they were celebrating from California or Connecticut, our customers had one thing in common: the need to celebrate, give thanks, and mark the passing of a challenging year.

5 lessons from the 2021 virtual holiday season

How does one plan a holiday party without actually meeting in person? Well, that’s what we’re here to help with. 

At Marco, we're proud to say that we've facilitated hundreds of holiday celebrations, large and small, and truly supported our customers in creating a memorable, inclusive, and fun holiday party. There’s a reason companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on holiday parties every year. Facebook’s holiday party reportedly cost $2 million. And while a big-budget blowout isn’t necessary, it’s still an important time to thank employees for their hard work. This is possible whether you’re meeting in-person or virtually.

Here are 5 things I learned that I’ll take into this year’s holiday planning season:

1. Start planning sooner than you think

Ship it early! I'm not sure if the world of logistics was ever as stress-tested as this. Picture a human pyramid made up of USPS, FedEx, UPS, Amazon—all propping up the weight of the Earth, knees shaking and elbows buckling from Black Friday all the way to MLK Day. 

We were lucky to have had few to no real mishaps with getting shipments to our customers to celebrate their holiday cooking, mixology, or crafting experience. Phew. But I learned that it’s important to start planning your holiday celebrations even before Target puts up the twinkly lights and Santa displays.

2. Make your virtual experience interactive

I’m all about a great show, but what really set holiday parties apart this year was something interactive — like Marco’s Nutcracker experience, which was my favorite of the year (and coincidentally, what we did for our holiday party.) 

We joined hosts UNA for an evening of food, music, wine, and ballet. First, we cooked at home with ingredients paired with Tchaikovsky’s songs — aged cheese danced on your tongue like the sugar plums ferries — and then watched excerpts of the ballet and musical performances by members of the San Francisco Conservatory. It was something special.

3. Customize the experience to match your brand

Experiences with Marco are each vetted and designed to be engaging, memorable, and unique. However, the best ones had a little extra special something added. Including a company-specific flair in the experience made it resonate that much more with employees. 

One of our customers dedicated two MCs to introduce the show, handle the transition between events, crack jokes, award annual superlatives ("winner for the most guest Zoom cat appearances goes to..."), and even wore matching pajamas! 

Another customer had a few employees hop in and out of breakout sessions to dole out "A bucks" (10 points for Gryffindor!) which were redeemable for company swag. 

Enthusiasm and creativity made these celebrations memorable. It was awesome to watch a certain unique flavor of company culture come forward in each of these examples. You don’t have to spend hours and hours figuring out how to do this — at Marco, we’ll help you tailor your experience to your brand. 

4. Give a little extra

The holiday season is all about giving. So of course, we had to get in on the fun. We had the amazing vocal services of a jazz-singing trio (the Slay Bells, great name) surprise some of our customers with live and customized caroling during their virtual experiences! Personal touches always leave an impression.

5. Cultivate community with employees and your partners

Culture isn’t just about your employees. It’s about how you do business. Think about your partners when you plan your holiday season and ways to include them in the season. For example, our customers are companies (hopefully yours!), and our partners are the experience hosts themselves. I loved hearing from our experience hosts about what they enjoyed most during the season — how they were able to meet so many new people over the holidays through events with Marco, while also growing their personal brands. 

Our experience hosts are just as much part of the Marco family as our core team — so we included them in our Secret Santa (which is not a descriptive name really, it was no secret we gave them gifts). Plus, we hosted a photoshoot for a handful of them (which they loved, check out the host photos on our website to see). 

Start planning you 2022 holiday party with Marco

The 2022 holiday season is upon us. Remember lesson #1? Start planning early to ensure the smoothest experience possible. Let's work together to plan the perfect holiday party for your team, no matter where you are. 

Remote-friendly party that crosses continents? Cocktail bash for 500 with live entertainment and the best rooftop views? Whatever your vision, we do it.


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