Holiday parties are a thing of the past thanks to COVID-19

BOSTON — Another tradition will be put on hold this year as COVID-19 makes company holiday parties impossible to hold.

Many organizations are finding other ways to say thanks to the employees.

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Chef David Crinieri, Culinary Director for Tuscan Brands, is very busy selling baskets filled with gourmet foods and wine. Sales are running ahead of last year as employers look for items they can send workers at home.

“We’re also providing Zoom cooking classes which are a great way to still kind of be together, but distant,” added Crinieri. “You learn a few things and interact with fellow employees.”

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An open bar, a huge buffet, and dancing are all out because of the pandemic. Elaine Varelas, Managing Director at Keystone Partners in Boston, said any sign of celebration or appreciation is needed more than ever.

“People are feeling very isolated, not matter where they are in terms of working from home,” explained Varelas. “They’re feeling very disconnected from their company.”

A little creativity can go a long way towards addressing those feelings, according to Varelas. “A virtual cookie swap with recipes. Some organizations are sending bottles of wine and having a sommelier explain the wine during a tasting with them.”

Franciscan Children’s in Brighton takes a whole week to show their employees some gratitude. While onsite workers were treated to all kinds of food, those working from home were also remembered with fresh fruit and electronics.

Chief Operating Officer Aimee Lyons said it was important to make sure everyone was included. “This is a just a little token of appreciation to say we know you’re there. We’re know you’re working hard. We thank you for your service even if we don’t’ see you every day.”

While free gifts are always fun, Varelas says these types of gestures are really serious business. “It’s really an investment in employee retention and employee engagement.”

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