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— 3 minute read

White Elephant Holiday Festivities

“holiday icons”
Here at InVision, we enjoy a fully distributed work environment. We get to work with people from all across the globe every single day! Our unique environment comes with many perks and great experiences, and we wanted to add to that by doing something special together for the holidays.

We had to find something that would actually work and be fun for a fully remote team. Think new tradition and memorable as well.

We quickly thought of trying to do a gift exchange, so we researched how other teams and remote companies have celebrated the holidays together. There were varying ideas and we found that each one had something small to offer us, so we chose what would work best for us.

All of our research led us to one definite and clear conclusion: it is supposed to be fun and not add any stress to anyone’s life.

We chose to celebrate together with a white elephant gift exchange!

Our next big task was to iron out the finer details of our fun.

We set the spending limit to $20 per gift. Since we have team members all across the globe (as far away as Australia 🇦🇺 ) and we wanted everyone to participate, we came up with an easy solution to get gifts there and back. We have an in-person company meeting in February, so gifts could be exchanged in person at that time if desired. We planned for a Zoom video call (Brady Bunch style) during the week before December 25th, since most people were not out on vacation yet. Lastly, we created a Slack channel for all communication related to the festivities, which we also used during our gift exchange.

Next we got to share the plan with the team, and we did that on our November monthly call.

Planning Details

“Gift exchange info a”
“Gift exchange info b”

Celebrating Together

Once we were on our party video call, we started with the first name on the list. That person selected a person’s gift to open. We found the easiest way to present a gift was to upload a picture into the Slack channel. Each next person on the ordered list could choose to either open an unopened gift, or steal a gift that was previously opened. If a gift was stolen from someone, that person would then choose another unopened gift (no circle of stealing). This went on until all gifts were opened. The last ordered person on the list had the best advantage because they could choose to steal any of the gifts.

We had about 15 people participate in the gift exchange. We were able to work out some house rules as things were happening because we were not a larger group of people, and our exchange took under one hour. If the group was larger, we’d likely have a small challenge keeping track of who opened what. I believe this could be resolved with a slower pace so that we could keep an ongoing list as gifts were being opened.

We used Slack to track the selected and stolen gifts, which made following along much easier. The gifts were varying in that some were funny gag gifts and some were more useful gifts…all gifts were well-received. Most of the gifts were bought and shipped via Amazon.

I mean…look how much fun we are having
“White elephant smiles”

Some people might feel these slippers are a serious gift 😂
“The gifts”
The whole experience was great fun for us…lots of smiles. We will keep the tradition going next year, and I believe participation will be higher now that it has happened once and we know it can be done.

With a little research and planning, we were able to bring some unique holiday fun to our team. We’ve definitely started our tradition and it will only get better from here.

Julie Griech is a Quality Assurance Manager at InVision

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