Lorna Boyer, marketing manager for U.K. company Eventurous, told HR Dive that her company has seen “a huge influx” of holiday event inquiries. From her perspective, however, the split between virtual and in-person parties continues to be balanced. “We’re seeing lots of people looking for virtual options, as it offers the security and comfort of a COVID-safe solution — but also lots of people wanting to reunite colleagues after months of remote working.”

Regarding U.K. COVID restrictions, the response is mixed, Boyer said. “It completely depends on comfort levels. The guidance from the government now is largely to get vaccinated and take regular tests and isolate where needed,” she said. “We are seeing a lot of people getting colleagues to take a lateral flow test [also known as a rapid response test] before participating in events, and a lot of people still sticking to a hybrid or virtual format for both events and workspaces.”

Some guests will be masked; others won’t. Boyer said that many employers throwing bigger events are requiring proof of a negative test or double vaccination to attend. “Just to make sure everyone stays safe,” she said. Boyer added that event providers in the U.K. are collectively embracing constant sanitization of equipment and props, and regular testing of event staff.

Similar to Roberts, Boyer said it seems many U.K. employers are planning to celebrate “in a big way” this winter.

As always with coronavirus, there are no easy answers or perfect solutions. With holiday parties, the consensus seems to be that comfort level should be the deciding factor.

Take Hibob’s end-of-year soirée, for example. The need for revelry and merry-making was three fold. For one, Hibob hired 30 people in the two months prior to the party. “It’s an opportunity for all these new people who have never met before to come together,” Rosencrans said. “And then the other element of it is, you know, we’re all coming out of a pandemic, where we haven’t been social for a really long time.” The goal was to add some levity to Hibob employees’ existence.

“We’re renting out a venue where we’re going to have music and dancing and an open bar. We’re going to go all out this year, because we really want to just celebrate what the company’s achieved,” she said, “making it through a very difficult year and a half.”