Team Bonding. But Make it Virtual + Festive.
Like many companies, in March of this year, the whole CarrierDirect office went remote. We kept our friendly office culture alive by interacting via fun slack channels, weekly virtual lunch meetups, and most recently, with a virtual secret gift exchange.
The event was proposed by our new junior project manager, Caroline Cannon. Maggie Norman, our Director of People, recalls that Caroline pitched the idea within days of starting at CarrierDirect. First things first!
As Caroline had her initial meetings with various members of the team, she floated the notion of a holiday secret gift exchange by her new colleagues. With the idea being met with enthusiasm, and the fact that CarrierDirect had never hosted an event like this before, Caroline jumped in to organize and implement.
“Caroline kept everyone's spirits high with weekly reminders (in the form of poems) and made sure everyone who participated had tons of fun,” noted Maggie.
Yes, you read that right. Poems.
The invitation to participate and a reminder of the event came to us in verse:
'Tis Tuesday afternoon we have now begun,
And here I am to promote good fun!
In three days time, the survey will complete,
And then I will get to check the spreadsheet.
Hopefully I will find a full list of names,
So we can commence the fun and games.
Each full-time employee will get assigned,
To a coworker that they will keep in mind.
They will search high and low until the 10th of December,
Then a gift shall be sent to the fellow staff member.
Please, oh please, click the link below,
And while you're at it, give your best "Ho, ho, ho!"
- Caroline Cannon, Junior Project Manager and Secret Gift Exchange Organizer
Behind-the-scenes-fun for Caroline included being the messenger between gifters and giftees about status and delivery of their gifts. For now, gone are the days when you could leave an anonymous gift or note on someone’s desk while they were out for coffee.
Finally, the anticipated day came and the gift reveals commenced. Each person presented their present and took a guess at who sent it to them.
The most notable guessing game was for Caroline’s own gift. Since she organized the whole event, she knew who her secret gifter was, however, her gifter happened to be Chicago-based like Caroline, and thus was able to personally complete the final mile delivery of the gift. As a humorous surprise for the team, Caroline had doorbell video footage of this person sneakily dropping off her gift. She shared the video for the team to guess who it was.
In the dark Chicago evening, a mysterious person, decked out in CarrierDirect gear, arrived at Caroline's door with a large gift bag. As this person debated where exactly to place said gift, we hear Caroline’s dog bark, and we witness the gifter startle and run away into the night.
It was none other than our CEO, Peter Rentschler, going the extra mile, as always, with his project.
Gifts included but were not limited to:
- Tennis gloves and sweat bands for a teammate who is passionate about “sweat management”
- A custom superhero themed flag for our own "Super Steve"
- A DIY enamel pin kit for someone to make their own enamel pins for their collection
- A Colorado-scented candle
- A yoga session with the Africa Yoga Project
- A mini waffle maker
- Gardening tools, golf accessories, tea, a dancing fish cat toy, and books, books, books.
All in all, everyone who participated had a delightful time, and for one team member, it was even his first time ever taking part in a secret gift exchange at work! Caroline also pointed out that it was a festive way for team members to get to know people that they don’t usually interact with on a day-to-day basis.
Do we sense a new CarrierDirect holiday tradition in the making?
The Logistics of a Secret Virtual Gift Exchange
- Have a lead organizer.
- Invite people to participate using an online form.
Form should include:
• Mailing address
• Gift ideas
• A little bit about you and your interests
- Set a deadline to sign up to participate.
- Randomly assign each participant a coworker to whom they will send a gift.
- Schedule a secret gift exchange virtual meetup.
• Friday afternoon worked well for us.
- Set a deadline for when gifts should be sent out.
• We set the deadline for about 1 week before the virtual meetup.
• Have each sender do their best to not reveal their identity in the sending process. Some delivery services offer this for gift sends.
- At the event, the organizer picks someone at random to begin. That someone opens and shares their gift and then guesses who sent it.
- After a few brief moments of suspense, the person who sent the gift reveals themself.
- That person is the next person to open their gift and guess.
- Have fun!