Ever wondered how to throw a virtual party that will make your past office parties pale in comparison? Then you came to the right place.
In our case, there were almost 100 people in 12 countries, and all of them just loved it.
Introverts, extroverts, and all those in between enjoyed themselves, had a lot of fun, and felt more connected to one another. If you were there, you would have learned that a folk from marketing once accidentally crashed into a tractor, one of the team members has got ten pet snakes (!), while a person from engineering really likes cyberpunk.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
It all started with a dedicated party committee, and they took it rather seriously.
Learn more by reading this article (spoiler alert – lots of pictures included).
A virtual party starts with planning ahead
The good thing about virtual parties is that you don’t have to worry about the venue. All you need is Zoom or Google Meet, basic levels of organizational and tech skills, and some creativity.
Here are the first things we needed to check off the list:
- Assembling a virtual party planning committee (People Team + volunteers)
- Noting the number of people attending
- Taking a look at Lokalisers’ interests and hobbies to create a great virtual party experience (we have a “Meet the team” Confluence page stored internally where each person shared something about themselves)
To kick things off, Jessica from the People team sent a Slack message to recruit her party army, somewhere near the end of November:
Come the beginning of December, she set some pretty high expectations:
In the meantime, the virtual party committee worked hard to come up with the activities and craft an amazing party experience for the team. Here’s what was happening behind the scenes.
Naming the virtual party host and coming up with the activities
Every virtual party needs a host. That’s how you ensure everyone is comfortable and that all activities go according to schedule. Ours was Liam from sales, the self-proclaimed “British guy living abroad”, who even got suited and booted, and set the bar high for all party hosts with his sense of humor. The host sets the right vibe for the party and helps shy people loosen up (Liam, if you’re reading this – you nailed it).
In the planning phase, the entire virtual party committee brainstormed ideas for games and activities to ensure everyone would have a good time.
You could say there were five main things on the committee’s menu:
- The Lokalise Awards
- The costume challenge
- Setting up everything for the virtual party breakout rooms and games (planning, tech setup, assigning moderators, rehearsing)
- A Lokalise band – Bandalise (we own our puns, as you can see)
- Creating a party presentation
Because of the timeline and the top-notch organization of the committee, people actually got the festive feeling before, during, and after the party. Read more to find out how we achieved this.
Lokalise Awards & the costume challenge
At some point, Justine from the People team, asked us to exercise our right to vote for the Lokalise Awards:
- The Slack Spammer Award
- The Water Cooler Trivia Boss Award
- The Breaking the Awkward Silence in the Beginning of Zoom Calls Award
- The Straight to the Point with Weekly Agendas Award
- The Best Giphy User Award
- The Firefighter Award
- The Best Meme Creator
- The Best Holiday Costume Award
The winners were announced during the party, they got their virtual certificates and gave thank you speeches. It was quite moving.
On the day of the party, Liam invited us to upload selfies for a chance to win the best holiday costume award…
… and he broke the ice with the first photo:
Other costumes did not disappoint:
Can you guess who won? Here’s a hint: it’s not Neo from Matrix, but it’s Secret SANTA.
Virtual party games
Besides the spontaneous guessing game of who’s drinking what that happened at the beginning of the party, we had pre-planned games in breakout rooms in Google Meet.
With a total of seven games, there was something for everyone. Each person was sent to different rooms and the committee ensured that nobody went in the same room twice.
The randomly mixed people for each respective room helped us get to know each other. In fact, some people saw each other on a call for the first time given the fact they don’t work together as frequently.
This was a nice change; you might not normally jump on a call with someone from, let’s say engineering, to find out they used to train dogs on movie sets.
Explore the games we played below:
|Game||What it is about|
|Sharing holiday traditions||Most of us have yearly holiday traditions. In this game, everyone shared their own, which helped us get to know one another better, as well as learning about customs around the globe.|
|Lokalise animals||Lokalise has a great pet-owners community. Our little friends make our work days better. In this breakout room, everyone had the opportunity to show off their pets or talk about the apple of their eye. There’s something heartwarming about seeing the silly faces of dogs and cats hanging from the person’s arms in front of a camera.|
|Song trivia||This was a fun game with Harijs from Product as the main DJ and moderator. In this simple ‘guess-the-song’ game, everyone became nostalgic for great hits from the past or enjoyed some newer tunes.|
|2 truths and a lie||This game may have caused the most laughs and helped us learn more about the amazing people under Lokalise’s roof. One person has to say three things about themselves, two truths and one lie. The rest of the players have to guess which of the statements is a lie.|
|Photo room||Photos remind us of the great people we meet, feelings and emotions, stories and special little moments. In this breakout room, we took photos together and laughed like crazy.|
|Virtual scavenger hunt||Just because we can’t visit your house doesn’t mean we can’t virtually explore it. Here’s what this game is about: the moderator names items that you need to find as quickly as possible. Once you find them, you need to bring them in front of the camera. The first person to return with the item gets a point. It was funny to see everyone randomly jump from their chairs on cue.|
|Broken picturephone||A very fun game, you can learn more about it here and take a sneak peek of our masterpieces below.|
Lokalise band – Bandalise
Having bands at parties is a pretty common thing. But having the band actually assemble for the party? That makes you feel pretty special. Introducing – Bandalise, a sensational musical trio.
In addition to having interviewing skills, Maruta from the People team also happens to have a lovely singing voice (step aside Mariah Carey).
Performing with her was our engineer Igors, who was equally brilliant and as sparkly as the Christmas tree by his side. Looking sharp with his synthesizer was Ilya from the Product team (yes, he’s the one with the snakes).
And what serious band goes on tour without a logo for fan T-shirts? This is why our Anatoly from Creative (obviously) created one for Bandalise:
Seeing these people perform was amazing for more than one reason.
Firstly, you actually find out more about who they are outside of work and that’s always exciting.
Secondly, you receive a warm message about who you are to them as one of the Lokalisers, as they are willing to set aside time and invest their efforts into making you laugh and do something special. It has a lot to do with openness, vulnerability, and feeling like you belong to something bigger than yourself.
Check out the video here. Performance requests to be sent to our founders, Nick and Petr.
The virtual party presentation
When it comes to the “party agenda” (we swear, this sounds more boring than it actually is), it’s similar to watching a movie together.
It’s primarily about sharing the experience and focusing your collective attention in a single place. It’s also about providing structure to the event, setting the right tone, and enabling everyone to feel comfortable. Without it, it wouldn’t be possible to make every person feel involved, is the team size 10 or 500.
The presentation is there for practical reasons. This is how the winners were announced, how all attendees knew what was coming next, and how the Lokalise team members and founders got their cues to take the floor and share their thoughts.
Feedback is important
As the first virtual party, it certainly set our expectations high for next time. But there’s always room for improvement, especially when you’re just getting started. This is why Jessica asked for feedback the following day:
The reactions were extremely positive, so we’re excited to see what comes next!
Wrapping up the year
We had games, snacks, drinks, hilarious holiday costumes, an awards ceremony with multiple categories, a special musical performance by Bandalise, and a lot of emotional moments with team members sharing feelings of appreciation during an open mic session.
There were no noticeable hangovers the next day, but we did notice people being in a festive mood. It seems impossible to switch to being serious right away, doesn’t it? The good thing is – you don’t really have to.
Joy and work shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. In fact, when you trust people and give them enough room to do their work properly, they become happier, more productive, and oriented towards collective growth.
There is a shared feeling among newcomers that Lokalise is a company with a very strong team culture, despite the challenge of being fully remote.
The way we work together has proven that, a) culture is not something that exists within the office walls but within people, and b) you can connect with your team members, laugh, celebrate, grow together, and become very fond of one another – even if you’ve never met in person. Virtual parties are just one small piece of the puzzle, but they are a darn important one.
Wishing you a Happy Holiday season, from all of us at Lokalise!