With most workplaces transitioning back to face-to-face, thoughts are turning towards the customary Christmas or end-of-year function. Many people are looking to do things a bit differently and find fresh ways to approach this tradition, to make it meaningful and re-establish the team connection we need right now.


For many workplaces, the usual Christmas/end-of year functions will again look a bit different this December.

Celebrating the year’s achievements and showing staff appreciation in this way has become standard practice for most companies, but this year, it presents a challenge for leaders. First, we have to juggle practical elements like where to hold a function, and how to make it COVID-safe and socially distanced.

Then, there’s the deeper question. The point of the end-of-year party is to show appreciation and it’s important for leaders to get right, as keeping staff engaged and motivated is more crucial than ever. Not to mention that in lockdown-impacted areas, employees have probably been working apart for a long time and would welcome a chance to reconnect.

Balancing all these needs is not easy, but here are a few ideas to kickstart your efforts.

Think beyond the restaurant

All of us have like been to a restaurant Christmas lunch. The type where it’s tricky moves around, and everyone is forced to make awkward small talk with whoever they happen to be sat next to.

There’s nothing wrong with these as such, I mean who doesn’t love being shouted to a great meal! However, this year it might be a good time to mix things up. For a start, everyone has their own level of ease with being in close quarters with others now due to COVID’s continued presence in our lives, despite the high take-up of vaccinations. An outdoor event, or at least one that involves a larger space might be more within their comfort zone.

We’ve already had some bookings and enquiries here at Leading Edge Life Skills for people wanting to do something different using our conference facilities. And it’s interesting to note that everyone has different requirements – some people are interested in our under-cover arena as a large and well-ventilated space, just to make it more socially distanced. Others are even keen on entirely outdoor events on our rural property here in Terrey Hills, Sydney.

Looking to outdoor or different types of venues might be a good call for your team.

Make the event meaningful

As we mentioned earlier, a team end-of-year catch up is really about connection and appreciation. People are realising this year could be time to hold an event that goes deeper than consuming food and drink – much as we like those things.

For example, we have already had people contacting us about putting together packages that include team-building activities with our horses, which include exercises to improve teamwork and communication.

From there, our events can move onto more informal bonding and include catered food and drinks. We can even build packages that include an overnight stay at our nearby partner hotel so you can capture the feeling of ‘going away’ to a team offsite while not actually leaving Sydney! And of course, we have a lot of fun along the way.

As Mikey Taylor, CEO of Lionize, said following a team event with us, “Much more fun (than other team building programs)…the team left the day buzzing and filled  with energy.”

Think carefully about what your team really needs right now and see if you can make the most of the end-of-year function – a fun activity that also functions as a genuine team-building event.

Celebrate in smaller groups or online

Traditionally, we tend to think of Christmas parties as huge company events. And while these have a place, a reasonable alternative is a series of smaller, more team-focused events for this year. There’s upsides to both – on one hand, you don’t get that mixing of departments and roles which can be beneficial, but on the other hand, micro events can allow for deeper bonding with immediate teammates.

Finally, the safest option is to keep the events online, depending on the risk tolerance of your company and staff. The issue with this is many teams are feeling fatigued with online drinks or catch-ups. Even online pub quizzes are starting to become stale for some of us.

Again, it’s time to think outside the box (or outside the stable as we like to say).

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve managed to successfully switch some of our courses online, which has been well-received by our clients. So, feel free to contact us for ideas or inspiration of how to freshen up your online events.

Let’s put some extra effort into organisation this year and show staff how much we appreciate their work throughout this difficult year.

If you’re interested in learning more about our venue hire and off-site facilities, email info@leadingedgelifeskills.com.au.