Wherever you are, however you are doing, and whatever is happening at your company, you are probably thinking, "It's the end of the year and what's to look forward to?" ... other than Covid being over. Normally, there's a lot to bring joy: vacation days, holiday parties, finishing up a great end of the year (EOY) and Q4, client gifts, and cash bonuses. Wait. Except this is 2020. Ah, right.

With everything going on in the world and the uncertainty we've been dealing with--take your pick: Covid-19, the economy, the election cycle, a severe third wave of infections--there isn't much to be excited about. This may be the roughest time some of your people have ever felt. You and your employees are probably nervous and exhausted about everything.

If you or your team are feeling down and uninspired, here are a few suggestions to make the end of the year more meaningful, authentic, original, and heck, I'm just gonna say it, fun for you and your team. These ideas will give everyone an authentic experience and make them feel appreciated plus be a virtual gathering as something to look forward to.

Interactive EOY Celebrations

Most of us won't be able to gather together at the end of this year. The way things are going as I write this, most states are going back on lockdown. To reunite your team and to make your EOY celebrations more joyful, build in interactivity, fun, and something unexpected. 

Also, if leadership takes a big hand in the strategy and execution of the celebration, lots of appreciation happens. In other words, leadership doesn't delegate all the work to management. Leadership owns the celebration and acts as event planner and hosts. Don't put more pressure on your team.

In case you need some inspiration for ideas, here are a few interactive activities you could try that will work with a virtual format: 

  • Virtual scavenger hunts with teams (build your own or try one of the online solutions).

  • Online cooking classes taught by someone on your team or bring in a guest chef from a local restaurant -- you'll be helping a local business, too.

  • Talent shows: This is a great way for people to learn about hidden talents from others on the team. People sign up to play an instrument, recite poetry, perform magic, or DJ a couple of songs.

  • Drawing party: Send out drawing kits and then everyone does fun drawings and shows them to everyone.

  • Or invite Colt Clark and the Quarantine Kids to customize your event; they'll record a special song for your team and shout out the company, names of special people, or whatever you want.

Virtual Meals and Wine Tastings

The office party may be gone this December, but that doesn't mean you still can't have a great feast. Prearrange a meal or booze to be delivered to everybody at the same time in their homes, and then have everyone eat together virtually as a nice way to bond. 

If you're feeling fancy, have some wine delivered (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and do a wine tasting even if it's not with someone famous. Someone on the team might be an amateur sommelier, for example.

Meaningful EOY Reviews

Another way to make an impact is to give our appreciation at the end of the year. End of the year reviews usually mean big bonuses, but most of us won't be getting cash in our stockings this year. As a leader, this is your time to be more authentic and empathetic with your employees. 

Remember, praise and recognition are often more meaningful than just cash alone, so if you've ever had something nice to say, this is the time to let your employees know how much you appreciate them. Instead of cash bonuses, you might give out something token and sincere to each team member personally. Finally, letting them know what's realistically on the horizon for 2021 and if they are safe will go a long way to making them feel good at the end of the year.

This year doesn't have to end on the same down note as it began. We have a lot to look forward to with new vaccines and a rising stock market. So spread a little cheer this year with interactive events, at-home feasts, and some meaningful appreciation of your team.