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How to Host Virtual (or Hybrid) Holiday Parties For Your Team

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How to Host Virtual (or Hybrid) Holiday Parties For Your Team


The pandemic has forced the traditional holiday office party to go virtual. But things are different this year — now, a variety of workplaces include remote and in-person employees (or a hybrid of both).

So here’s the challenge — how can you host a fun holiday party that satisfies everyone? What activities can you plan? What logistics are involved?

There’s certainly a lot to think about, but don’t stress. Here are some tips from HubSpot’s remote workforce on how to host a virtual or hybrid-friendly holiday party.

1. Use a spreadsheet to organize your activities.

Planning a virtual holiday party requires plenty of logistics. That’s why you should use a spreadsheet to stay organized.

Kara Korosec, a remote senior customer success manager at HubSpot, says, “I used to coordinate Secret Santa at my last company, a 100% remote company. I set up a spreadsheet where everyone listed some of their interests, then we used a random generator to assign secret Santas. Everyone had a budget of $50 and used the spreadsheet as inspiration for what to get. After the gifts were mailed, we had a Zoom where we shared our gifts and guessed who our secret Santa was.”

2. Make it interactive.

Virtual events might automatically feel “hands-off” — but this doesn’t have to be the case. In Korosec’s secret Santa example, they opened the gifts on a live Zoom call.

The goal here is to be creative.

Eimear Marrinan, a director of culture at HubSpot, says, “There are a ton of amazing remote vendors and minority-owned businesses that we partner with in the Culture Team. They are doing amazing work. If your budget allows for it, consider outsourcing to the experts. A few brilliant events I have seen: Ski Chalet Experience, Walkthrough Christmas Markets, Cocktails in a Winter Wonderland!”

There are several online games and activities you can use for your virtual holiday party. Below are some of our favorite interactive remote activities:

  • Virtual MasterChef: Ask one person to host and send out a list of ingredients (or modified ingredients for dietary restrictions) and supplies. On the cooking night, have everyone dial into the Zoom to cook the same meal together as the host walks them through the recipe. Once the recipe is ready, sit down and have a virtual dinner together!
  • Ugly Sweater Contest
  • Virtual Escape Rooms, like Puzzle Break, Mystery Escape Room, or The Escape Game

3. Incorporate food.

When hosting an in-person event, providing food is typically part of the gig. Why can’t this be true of remote holiday parties too?

Emily Tong-Sanchez, a remote revenue operations specialist at HubSpot, says, “Let people comp their meal!”

This gives people a reason to celebrate and enjoy the party.

Marrinan adds, “Ask questions if you’re incorporating food. Are there allergies or preferences? If you’re arranging a cocktail hour, does everyone drink alcohol? This is all about being inclusive in how you’re arranging your event.”

If you’re sending food, it’s important to be aware of any restrictions so your event is inclusive of all participants.

4. Encourage people to dress up.

Holiday parties are usually fun events where everyone can dress up and celebrate. Being remote shouldn’t change this — so don’t ditch the ugly holiday sweater just yet.

Tong-Sanchez says, “Encourage people to dress up. We like having a reason to put on fancy clothes!”

5. Always lead with an inclusive mindset.

A major obstacle with remote meetings is that it’s hard to feel included.

Marrinan remarks, “We are working in a distributed and remote world right now, so when thinking through a holiday event for you and your team think big & think global. Will the timezone work for all on your team? Do ‘The Holidays’ resonate across the globe? Make sure you plan something fun, and inclusive that everyone can get involved in!”

6. Plan in advance.

If you’re planning a virtual holiday party, it’s important to give yourself enough time to plan. Send invites in advance, finalize an agenda, and test-run activities.

Marrinan says, “The end of the year is busy. Really busy! Give people advanced notice and book time in advance. A lot of people are juggling right now, so being protective of time is important! Similarly, be mindful of caregivers on your team, or anyone that may have blocked time in their day.”

7. Send something physical.

Just because your event is remote, doesn’t mean you can’t include a physical element in your virtual holiday party.

“Can you send something out to the team in advance to spur some excitement? This doesn’t have to be a physical gift — maybe it is a handwritten card or a note of gratitude,” Marrinan remarks. “A holiday event doesn’t have to be a big, big thing. Sometimes it’s the simple acts of kindness that go a long way for people.”

8. Pick a goal.

When you’re planning your holiday party, it’s important to decide what your goal is. For example, it’s hard to play a game while also getting to know each other.

Caroline Merewether, a strategy and operations manager at HubSpot, says, “The biggest takeaway is to figure out if it’s more about deepening relationships or playing a game.”

One of Merewether’s favorite events her team put on was an Airbnb experience which was a virtual escape room.

“That was fun to do something different and it was a fun mental shift. But it wasn’t great for getting to know people because we were trying to solve for clues. For our next party, we wanted to drive conversation between us,” she adds.

For her team’s next virtual holiday party, they’re going to send international candies that will be a great conversation starter for breakout rooms. Then, they’re going to do a costume contest and online trivia.

Jeff Boulter, an engineering lead at HubSpot, decided to combine the interactive activity with a way of getting to know each other via an interactive trivia game.

To start, Boulter sent out a Google Form with a mixture of icebreaker questions. A few examples included:

  • What was your first online handle or email address?
  • What course did you do the worst at college?
  • What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
  • What’s your least favorite song?
  • What’s your favorite conspiracy theory?
  • What’s an unusual skill you have?
  • Star Wars or Star Trek?
  • Yanni or Laurel?
  • If you could commit any crime and get away with it, what would it be?
  • What’s the worst gift you’ve ever received?
  • Who would get eaten first if we all got stuck in the 1C elevator?

Then, they used a free online trivia site called MyQuiz. Here, the answers were either picking one person from their squad (who’s least favorite song is “It’s a Small World,” for example) or picking the correct answer amongst three other made-up answers. They ended up with 54 questions. See the picture below for what this looked like.

5 Tips for Hosting a Hybrid Holiday Party

The best hybrid holiday parties engage both virtual and in-person guests in a meaningful way. But if you’re unsure about the logistics, check out these tips to build connections among coworkers near and far:

1. Think digital-first.

When planning the activities and agenda of your hybrid holiday party, your virtual attendees should stay front of mind. Consider how your virtual employee can interact and remain engaged at each step.

2. Find the right venue.

The venue for your party can either make or break the hybrid experience. Pay close attention to your venue’s internet stability and sound — and make sure you have access to the right equipment for video conferencing.

3. Prioritize hybrid-friendly activities

A common mistake when hosting hybrid parties is organizing activities for in-person guests and simply broadcasting the festivities for virtual attendees. Instead, look for hybrid-friendly activities that everyone can enjoy together, while apart. Here are a few examples:

  • A Funny Team Awards Show
  • Holiday Trivia or Game Night
  • Secret Santa
  • Paint Party
  • Festive Talent Show

Remember, hybrid holiday parties should actively engage both in-person and virtual attendants — so prioritize activities that can achieve this goal.

4. Share the ambiance.

Sometimes virtual guests can feel like they’re missing out on the fun because they’re remote. To help counteract this, hosts should create a shared experience and ambiance for all attendees. For example, if your in-person decor includes paper snowflakes and vanilla candles, consider sending virtual guests a smaller-scale version of these items for their home or office.

5. Put in-person and remote guests in groups or pairs.

One way to encourage engagement between in-person and virtual guests is by placing them in groups or pairs. For example, if you play holiday trivia, consider breaking up your guests into groups, with each group containing in-person and remote guests. Take this one step further by encouraging groups to brainstorm creative team names.

When it comes to planning remote and hybrid events, it may take more time and effort to nail the logistics. But when done right, you can host a party that inspires camaraderie and belonging within your team.

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ActionIQ rebrands and launches CX Hub

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ActionIQ rebrands and launches CX Hub


Enterprise customer data platform ActionIQ has announced the launch of a new product, CX Hub. The company has also rebranded as AIQ. The CX Hub is designed as a set of modules offering self-service access to customer data, allowing users to build audiences and orchestrate experiences at scale.

After eight years of growth as a CDP serving B2C, media and other sectors, the changes represent a “new approach to our product and brand,” said CEO and co-founder Tasso Argyros in a release. The modular framework will ingest data from any source, integrate with any activation channel, and also allow components to be used with a third-party CDP.

The modules. CX Hub is comprised of four solutions:

  • Customer data platform.
  • Audience center.
  • Journey management.
  • Real-time CX.

The Hub is also designed to be accessible to business users with a friendly UI and extensive automation capabilities.


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Why we care. This is a significant development in the CDP space — a space that has been transforming rapidly, with many of the early established CDPs being acquired and ingested by more extensive suites such as digital experience platforms.

ActionIQ, one of the leading B2C CDPs, is now describing itself as “the leading CX solution.” It seems to be future-proofing itself by extending its capabilities across orchestration and execution channels, not by acquiring or building those solutions, but by seeking to provide modular integration between its (or a third-party’s) customer data management tool and orchestration and execution channels.

Sometimes we wonder how many independent, traditional CDPs will be left standing a year from now.

Read next: Deep changes in the CDP space


About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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Old Navy to drop NFTs in July 4th promo update

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Old Navy to drop NFTs in July 4th promo update


Old Navy will update its yearly Fourth of July promotions by saluting the metaverse with an NFT drop, going live June 29.

In honor of the year they were founded, the retailer will release 1,994 common NFTs, each selling for $0.94. The NFTs will feature the iconic Magic the Dog and t include a promo code for customers to claim an Old Navy t-shirt at Old Navy locations or online.

“This launch is Old Navy’s first activation in web3 or with NFTs,” an Old Navy spokesperson told MarTech. “As a brand rooted in democratization and inclusivity, it was essential that we provide access and education for all with the launch of our first NFT collection. We want all our customers, whether they have experience with web3, to be able to learn and participate in this activation.”

Accessible and user-friendly. Any customer can participate by visiting a page off of Old Navy’s home site, where they’ll find step-by-step instructions.

There will also be an auction for a unique one-of-one NFT. All proceeds for the NFT and shirt sales go to Old Navy’s longtime charitable partner, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Additionally, 10% of NFT resales on the secondary market will also go to Boys & Girls Clubs.

Support. This activation is supported by Sweet, who’s played a major role in campaigns for other early NFT adopters like Burger King.

The Old Navy NFTs will be minted on the Tezos blockchain, known for its low carbon footprint.

“This is Old Navy’s first time playing in the web3 space, and we are using the launch of our first NFT collection to test and learn,” said Old Navy’s spokesperson. “We’re excited to enable our customers with a new way to engage with our iconic brand and hero offerings and look forward to exploring additional consumer activations in web3 in the future.”

Read next: 4 key strategies for NFT brand launches

Why we care. Macy’s also announced an NFT promotion timed to their fireworks show. This one will award one of 10,000 NFTs to those who join their Discord server.

Old Navy, in contrast, is keeping customers closer to their owned channels, and not funneling customers to Discord. Old Navy consumers who don’t have an NFT wallet can sign up through Sweet to purchase and bid on NFTs.

While Macy’s has done previous web3 promotions, this is Old Navy’s first. They’ve aligned a charity partner, brand tradition and concern for the environment with a solid first crack at crypto.


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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



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Are you still using spreadsheets to manage your work? Take our poll

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Are you still using spreadsheets to manage your work? Take our poll


Earlier this year, revenue orchestration platform LeanData released a report suggesting that lead management remains a “heavily manual” process. Based on a survey of more than 1,700 sales, marketing and operations professionals, the results showed that, despite all the talk of digital transformation, the number two challenge for revenue teams was too many manual processes and not enough automation (the number one challenge was insufficient pipeline).

LeanData, which partnered with Sales Hacker, Outreach and Heinz Marketing in conducting the survey, is interested in that result, of course, because lead management is precisely the process they offer to automate. We were struck by the contrast with Scott Brinker’s recent statement that we are arriving at a post-digital-transformation era: “(C)ompanies are no longer planning to become ‘digital.’ They are digital.”

And then we got the results of our 2022 MarTech Career and Salary Survey. Among the surprising nuggets to be mined from our findings was that 77% of respondents identify spreadsheets as the tool they spend most time (10 or more hours a week) working with. That doesn’t mean that spreadsheets are a marketer’s most important tool, but it does suggest that manual processes remain a key part of daily life for marketing managers and staff.

We wanted to extend the opportunity to all our readers — B2B, B2C, agencies — to give us a reality check on spreadsheet use. MarTech is marketing, we like to say, and certainly today’s marketing is fundamentally data-driven and digital. But is it too soon to say that marketers are working in a digital and largely automated environment?

Download the 2022 MarTech Career and Salary Survey here


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About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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