Holiday office party: New ways to celebrate amid pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing most companies to cancel their holiday parties this year, but, there are still plenty of ways to spread a little cheer.

A cozy French dinner won't happen inside Bistro Campagne, at least not right now.

"We're used to seating 100-150 people a night," said Bistro Campagne Executive Chef Adam Grandt. "Normally it's all fun and laughter and now it's a little bit different."

The Lincoln Square restaurant that would normally host private holiday parties this time of year is trying to help people find cheer at home.

"It's really hard to get motivated to cook a big meal if it's just your immediate pod, especially if your pod is really small like mine --which is only 3-4 people," he said.

That's why Grandt came up with the idea to offer meal kits from their restaurant that only need to be warmed. Friends and family can have the same meals in their own spaces and share virtually.

"You can order this meal kit, you can pick it up --get a couple of them -- drop them off to family or have them pick them up," he said.

He saw a need as so many cancel their annual holiday gatherings as many try to do their part to be safe. That includes office parties.

There are some creative virtual office parties happening as some companies find new ways to spend their office party budget.

"The money that would be spent on parties [and] training seminars [are] now being spent on awesome gifts," said Leo Friedman, CEO and founder of iPromo.

Friedman sent drink kits to employees for their virtual 21st year in business celebration, and their business now focusing on sending corporate gifts in place of parties.

"Our clients are really understanding. The isolation people are feeling at home and they need to be appreciated," he said.

iPromo has sent 100,000 corporate gifts to employees in the last month and a half as companies try to show appreciation for employees being flexible, loyal and productive during a difficult year.
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