Our List Of Online End-Of-The-Year Party Ideas: 2021 Edition

Our List Of Online End-Of-The-Year Party Ideas: 2021 Edition

We’ve officially entered November, which means that it’s finally time to start making preparations for the end of the year. Here at Invite Japan too, we’ve been busy fielding inquiries and reservations about end-of-the-year parties. 

Even though emergency restrictions are being lifted and the dangers of returning to the office or meeting indoors are not as grave, many teams are choosing to continue to be remote or hybrid. The same goes for end-of-the-year parties.

In Japan, end-of-the-year parties (called bonenkai) are usually major events on company calendars. Larger companies may rent out banquet halls, and even smaller teams will generally go to a slightly more upscale restaurant than usual. In a recent poll, though, more than 70% of companies said they are not planning their end-of-the-year parties at a restaurant.

However, just because many are still reluctant to go back to partying as usual doesn’t mean that you should give up on end-of-the-year parties this year.  This past year has been another difficult one, and you should take the time to celebrate your growth, victories and hard work as a team together. So we definitely recommend hosting an online party if nothing else.

But what’s the best way to host an online end-of-the-year-party? Actually, we at Invite Japan have some experience to share–this time from our own team’s end-of-the-year party last year. We all had a great time, so hopefully it will inspire you too to create a fun online event for your team!

An opportunity for team building 

As we’ve talked about before, remote and hybrid teams are separated from each other, which makes it more difficult to recreate those interactions at the office that lead to stronger relationships and greater motivation. Remote and hybrid teams really need as much team building as they can get.

Team building is set to become even more important as team members return to the office. Especially if your team has been remote this whole time, it might be awkward at first to go back to working around other people. So we recommend that these teams use team building as a way for team members to “reacquaint themselves” with each other, and regrow their bonds.

Additionally, these past two years have taught us all that resilience is very important when dealing with new or uniquely challenging situations. Resilience means being ready to handle these challenges, adapt accordingly, and move forward after. So team building helps give and strengthen tools like strong relationships, trust, and communication that your team can rely on the next time a crisis arrives. 

Which is why end-of-the-year parties in particular should be seen as an opportunity to instill important team building ideas on your team.

Use your online end-of-the-year party to energize your team 

While it’s true that a lot of teams may be sick of Zoom meetings by now and view them as part of work, with just a little bit of preparation, you can inject some fun and excitement into your online party. Whether you play a few quick icebreaker games or go all out on a full online activity, the  most important thing is that your team has fun together and has the chance to communicate in a way that’s different from the regular routine. 

Below, we introduce you to some ideas for online games and activities that you can use for your end-of-the-year parties. All of them are designed to strengthen communication and allow teams to relax and have fun while spending quality time together.

1. Team member trivia 

Last year, our team played this for our own end-of-the-year party, and it was one of the highlights. Not only is it fun, but you also get to learn a lot about your team members and what they’re interested in. 

To play, you’ll need to prepare beforehand. One team member acts as the Trivia Master, and collects questions  from each of the participants before the actual event. The questions can be about hobbies, interests, facts about your company, fun team memories from the past year, or any random trivia question (they shouldn’t be too hard though). For each question, the participants also need to give four answers (the correct answer plus three plausible answers that are wrong). 

The Trivia Master then makes a simple slide presentation with the questions and answers so that everyone can see them on their screens. The Trivia Master presents the questions and the four multiple choice answers, and participants respond and try to guess the correct answer.

Here are some of the questions from our own trivia game (remember, we’re an international staff, so we had some interesting questions):

• Who wrote “The Hunchback of Notre Dame?

• What is the name of the god that resides at the Izumo Shrine?

• Where is the birthplace of the kebab?

• What year did man first land on the moon?

• What is Yuki’s favorite Baskin Robin’s flavor?

• What animal can Wataru imitate perfectly?

• Besides dance, what other sport does Kazu like?

• What was our nickname for the Daruma that we used for Puzzle Bazaar?

Of course, you can choose to do this game in your own way. We had three different rounds of questions, but you could choose to just have one round. You could also switch who is the Trivia Master for each round, too. But as you can see, there’s a lot of room in this game to learn about different interests and hobbies, and to gain new perspectives on your team members. 

2. Gesture Game

This game is really easy to prepare and play. Each player takes a turn acting out a word using only gestures. The other players have to guess what the word is. While you might be thinking that this is a simple game, it’s actually quite hard when it’s all done through screens. You can even make it harder by telling actors that they can only use the upper half of their bodies. 

For keywords, you can take mottos from your company or favorite phrases to add more customization. This is a game that really uses your body and mind, so it’s a great way to get everyone moving and excited.

By the way, Invite Japan uses our own gestures a lot during meetings, which have come to take on something of our own ritual or language. We give “thumbs” up when we like an idea or are taking on a task. We clap when we want to say “good job” or when someone has organized information well. We raise our hands when we have an issue with something. And, when we get really good news, we do a little dance!

Maybe this game can help you develop your own “online sign language” that you can use with each other.

3. Online team building activity (Tabitantei) 

Tabitantei is our popular online activity that can be perfect for your end-of-the-year party.

We saved the best for last! Tabitantei (which means “journey detective”) is our online puzzle-based team building program. We designed it specifically for remote teams, so it is meant to encourage communication and teamwork using online tools.

The concept of the game is that your team is embarking on a “travel adventure” across Japan. Your team gets to virtually travel to Asakusa, Yokohama, Sendai, and Karuizawa to look for clues to solve a series of puzzles. Tabitantei can accommodate anywhere from 4~60 players, so it’s the perfect way to energize and inspire your team at the end-of-the-year.

Along with “Tabitantei”, we also have another, brand new online team building program that will be available from December (just in time for end-of-the-year parties). This game has a different story and concept from Tabitantei, and takes place in a more global setting. Nevertheless, like Tabitantei it will help teams strengthen relationships and teamwork skills.

Use a food delivery service to feel unified!

One part that’s been missing in our discussion so far has been food and drink. One aspect of end-of-the-year parties that often gets overlooked is that everyone is partaking of the same food and drinks, which helps create a sense of unity and equality.

That’s why we recommend using a food delivery service for your team. They’re easy to use, and they get everyone on the same page food-wise. These services also provide drink menus so that participants can choose their own alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages. It might not seem like it’s that important, but it really is fun to have food delivered to you and discover what’s inside together. It can transform a regular online party into a true “end-of-the-year” team party.

(Invite Japan uses nonpi.foodbox for its online parties. The food is high-quality and different every time, and they have a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to choose from. We highly recommend using them for your next online event.)  

Conclusion

The ideas above are just a beginning for thinking about how to make your online end-of-the-year party more fun and engaging. It doesn’t have to be hard, and you should do what comes natural to your team. Maybe you all choose to dress up in silly outfits, or use wacky pictures as your background. The point is to make it memorable–just because it’s online doesn’t mean it has to be boring. In fact, if it leads to finding something new and different, it can sometimes be even more interesting.  

In addition to online team building activities, Invite Japan also has a range of indoor and outdoor face-to–face team building activities that can also be used for end-of-the-year events. Also check out our blog from last year for even more online party ideas!

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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