The office holiday party is one of many traditions that has gone out the window during the pandemic. I enjoyed meeting up with coworkers at a local restaurant and talking about the highlights of the year while eating delicious food. So many inside jokes started after a festive cocktail or two. Always good fun.

This year, the holiday season will look and feel a lot different. Being unable to host a traditional holiday party for staff, local businesses are getting creative.

SouthCoast Health surveyed all of its employees back in November to decide how to best use the funds designated for these activities. "In an overwhelming majority response, employees opted to donate the funds to local charities including United Way of Greater New Bedford.”

This news inspired me to reach out to our Facebook audience in order to see what other companies have decided to do with the money that would have been spent on a holiday party.

Jane Talabach said, “They brought dinner in! Let's keep giving to the restaurants that are suffering! I want them around when we ever get away from this virus.” Honestly, I think Jane speaks for all of us when she said to find a way to support the local restaurants we love so we can still enjoy them when all of this nonsense is behind us.

Erin McCaffrey said that all of the employees received VISA gift cards while Mindy Amaral said she got a gift card to Market Basket. Kel Teiga received cash and Kaycee Lowengrub got “an extra $200 dollar check for Thanksgiving dinner!” Barbie Bergeron said that “all employees got an extra $150 on top of a bonus check.”

Some companies have decided to show their thanks to staff with an extra paid day off for the holidays. Nicole Benevides Almeida and Michael Coulombe both appreciate the extra time to celebrate with loved ones at home.

One thing I did not account for is that some employees purchase tickets to the office holiday party. Doreen Lima Huffman said, “I am going to use the money I would’ve spent on a party to create a gift basket for each person filled with products/gift cards from local small businesses.”

Whatever your alternative plan is, share it with us so we have ideas.

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