Down with Mandatory Fun!

Photo of a fierce-looking fluffy cat with the text "You will have fun. It is not an option."What in the world will we do about the holiday party?!

Let’s just start right here: no Zoom parties, please. Everyone is Zoomed out with meetings. And getting together on Zoom to raise a glass and pretend we’re all together is not going to cut it. 

In fact, Mandatory Fun has never been actual fun for everyone. Undoubtedly some people enjoy the games or random questions intended to create team bonding, but for others, those activities are painfully awkward and often cheesy. (You can probably tell which camp I belong to…)

And yet, there is a need to gather together in some way. Leaders want to express appreciation for their employees’ efforts, especially in this surreal, intense, stressful year.

So what to do?

Get creative.

There are online shows – and, yes, many are done through Zoom, and I know I just said no Zoom, but this isn’t your everyday Zoom gathering. I haven’t actually experienced this show, but it comes recommended from a number of credible sources. And if you Google “virtual holiday shows,” you’ll find that major institutions such as the Washington Ballet, the Kennedy Center, the San Francisco Ballet, and others – too many to list – have made some wonderful experiences available online, often at no cost. Tap your IT department to set up a shared viewing experience, perhaps with intermission or post-show conversation, and you might find your employees having a better time this year than ever before.

You can also find virtual escape rooms online, and the escape room experience can be more fun than you might expect. I freely admit that my husband dragged me kicking and screaming to my first escape room, and I immediately became addicted. Since then, I’ve done escape rooms with clients, and even the doubters were quickly convinced. I haven’t (yet) tried a virtual escape, but why not? In researching for this article, I’ve started planning to do one with said husband – though for that, I may need to drag him kicking and screaming to the event!

Whatever you do, do something. People need the comfort of gathering together in some form during this holiday season. At first I thought I was imagining things, but an article I came across confirmed it: people really have been putting up their holiday decorations much earlier than usual, and I think it’s the desire for a sense of celebration and community, even if we can’t safely get together in person.

Holiday party Mandatory Fun *isn't* necessarily very fun. And there are other options, even in this weird year, for an awesome holiday party!Click To Tweet

Be creative. Avoid Mandatory Fun. Instead, make this year’s holiday party something people will remember as fabulous not despite the virus, but because it was great.


How do you understand the best ways to reward your team? It’s not the same for everyone, as this article suggests!


gljudson Management & Leadership