How to Pivot if Your Company Holiday Party is Cancelled

As the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to spread, employee safety is once again a heightened concern for businesses across all industries, making the likelihood of traditional holiday or end-of-year recognition parties questionable—at best. It’s a disappointing reality, but it doesn’t mean you’re out of options when it comes to recognizing and celebrating the hard work of your employees.

In August, we at Tango Card made the decision to cancel our annual holiday party—an event that’s earned a reputation for being fun, exciting, and over the top. Each year, our Founder and CEO, David Leeds, flies in our employees from cities across the country, along with plus-one guests. The decision to cancel wasn’t easy, and it required proactive planning by our Director of Employee Experience, Becky Hathaway. Here’s a look at the factors Becky and David considered when deciding to cancel our holiday recognition party early on—and what we’re doing instead of an in-person event.

Download the 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Decision to Cancel

There were several factors that David and Becky considered when making the decision to cancel our 2021 holiday party, but the most important factor came down to employee health and safety. “We wanted to make sure we weren’t putting our employees in a position where they had to choose whether to maintain a safe distance or miss out on the fun,” explains Becky. “We wanted to make a single choice that worked best for our entire team.”

Having employees located in multiple cities across the country, paired with concerns over the ever-changing rules and regulations surrounding COVID-19, proved to be factors as well.

“Rather than having to change the rules of the holiday party several times between now and then, we decided to make a call early on that made the most sense for employee health and safety,” she explains.

Budgeting for an Alternative Option

David and Becky didn’t view the cancelation of our holiday party as an opportunity to save money or make our 2021 financial results look better. Instead, they viewed it as a safety issue. “Ultimately, we took the holiday-party budget and invested it directly in team recognition and appreciation,” explains Becky.

This meant Becky could take the approximately $500 that would have been spent on each employee for the holiday party and use the same amount on an alternative option. “By canceling the holiday party early on, we never risked losing money to deposits or down payments. Instead, we used those funds to invest in our employees in a meaningful way—and in a way that’s relevant to our core business,” she explains.

What We’re Doing Instead of a Holiday Party

With $500 to spend on each employee, David and Becky’s goal was to find an alternative option that would allow employees to celebrate the holidays in a special way. Ultimately, they decided to let each employee choose their own reward.

On Thanksgiving, Tango Card will email each employee a $500 Reward Link that includes a range of gift cards and not-for-profit contribution options. Our reward catalog is already robust, giving employees the opportunity to choose from 250+ of the most popular gift card brands. By also including not-for-profit options and a prepaid card, each Tangocardian will have the freedom to choose how they spend their $500.

“By offering a Reward Link with no limitations, our hope is that our employees are able to do something fun or special—maybe something they would otherwise not be able to do,” explains David.

In addition, Reward Link is accessible from any location, making it an ideal reward solution for our remote and hybrid employees.

Other Options We Considered

Becky presented several alternative options to an in-person event before deciding on the $500 Reward Link. Here’s a look at the three other options.

Custom Employee Gifts with a $100 Reward Link

This was the approach we used last year when our 2020 holiday party was cancelled. We ordered custom gifts—valued at $80—through a promotional product company that ships gifts directly to each employee, along with a $100 Reward Link. “Last year, we included hats and scarves with our logo, but longer lead times have made custom gifts more difficult this year,” explains Becky. An option like this is ideal for businesses with plenty of lead time.

The Gift of Rest and Relaxation

Christmas is on a weekend this year, creating an opportunity to extend the holiday weekend. “We considered closing our offices on Friday and Monday for rest and relaxation, but this would be challenging given that the holiday season is our busiest time of year,” explains Becky. For businesses with smaller budgets, an option like this might be ideal.  

Virtual Holiday Event

“The challenge with this option is that many employees are already tired of looking at a screen. Plus, it’s our busiest time of the year, making it difficult to find a date that would work for all employees,” explains Becky. However, a virtual option like this can be great for smaller teams and organizations. Activities like ugly sweater contests, recipe swaps, or happy hours can be a lot of fun virtually.

Our Commitment to Transparency

Transparency is a core value here at Tango Card. David and Becky approached the announcement about our holiday party like any other business decision—with direct, open, and honest communication.

“Making the announcement early on was also the considerate thing to do,” explains Becky. “Many of our employees have already started to plan things for the holidays. If you factor in a company party, and then it suddenly doesn’t happen, you might have changed your own personal plans to work around it.”

Looking Ahead

Employee safety is more important than ever. If a holiday recognition party is currently scheduled on your calendar, now is the time to start weighing pros and cons. “We had to cancel our holiday party last year, and I really didn’t expect to be canceling again in 2021,” said David. “Though it was hugely disappointing, I think our decision to cancel our 2021 holiday party was the right call—between COVID-19 cases increasing, concerns over the Delta variant, and public health concerns.”

A cancelled holiday party doesn’t mean you’re out of options. You can still recognize your team—from any location. Our global reward catalog is filled with 650+ of the most popular gift card brands, ensuring a reward for each employee on your list.

Visit our website to learn how we can help you recognize your employees this holiday season. You can also find inspiration by downloading our Holiday Gift Guide.

Download the 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

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