Christmas on the intranet

12 Nov 2021

Before the start of December and the run up to Christmas, we often get questions on how to spruce up and add some festive fun to the intranet.

Advent Calendar

The most common request is for an advent calendar. Days of the calendar are revealed in the run up to Christmas and this requires content for each day. It’s best to plan this well ahead of time, but by its nature, you don’t actually need to get everything in place at once, as long as you have something ready for the next day. Ideas for content:

  • Interesting facts about the organisation, accomplishments during the year
  • Video messages from staff and management
  • Quick quiz questions with an educational twist, for example, how many plastic cups did we recycle this year?
  • Competitions for prize giveaways
  • Fundraiser publicity

There are various methods to create a calendar. Here are some of the ideas that we have seen on other intranets.

Method 1: use a plugin

There are a number of plugins that will deploy an advent calendar to your intranet. This year the best offer looks like “SantaPress”, which uses a shortcode to get the calendar onto a page and comes with various configuration options. It also includes a quiz feature.

It’s not free and it does require some planning and configuration.

Advent Calendar plugin

SantaPress is available from CodeCanyon at around £25.

Method 2: build an automated page

There are various page templates and shortcodes that you can use on a page to automatically show links to other posts and pages.

Using the “About page” template

Create a main page for the advent calendar and assign the About page template. Change options to show the featured image. Then create sub-pages for each day of advent, with a featured image for each one. Schedule publication for the appropriate future date.

“About page” template

Using the Hashtags template

Create a main page for the advent calendar and assign the Hashtags template. Change to display 24 posts using a tag of your choice. You may need to create a new tag for advent. Then create posts for each day of advent, with a featured image and the specific tag, scheduled to publish on the appropriate future date.

Hashtags template

Using a shortcode

Create a main page for the advent calendar and assign the Full-width template. Add the childblocks shortcode. Then create sub-pages for each day of advent. Schedule publication for the appropriate future date.

Childblocks shortcode

Method 3: intraverts

Create a bank of intraverts for each day of advent, with appropriate date ranges. Place intraverts in a widget area on the homepage. Intraverts can link to further posts or pages, or can simply show the content for the day.

Hint: set the intravert cache period to -1 to display constantly during a date range.

Intraverts guide

Christmas Market

On Kewnet, the intranet for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, we saw an online Christmas arts and craft market last year. Staff were invited to setup stalls to sell their wares, with their own forms to add products to their stalls. Sales were all handled off the intranet platform, on sites like Etsy or with Paypal.

This setup involved creating hashtag pages for each stall with a corresponding GravityForm setup to create posts with a specific tag and featured image for the stall.

Christmas market stall

Christmas Jumper photo contest

Invite staff to upload their photos and host a contest for the most votes.

We have used the Photo Contest plugin, again on CodeCanyon, around £30.

Our advice is to have a period of submissions and then close this before opening up the voting.

No snowflakes here

Snowflakes obliterating your view of the intranet are not a good idea. These animations are maybe okay temporarily in the page background while displaying a modal window, but continual movement on the screen is not recommended. It may be pretty the first time; after a while, it gets annoying.

And please consider the impact on the environment. You will start to hear the fan on your computer ramp up as the processor consumes more and more energy to display the animated snowflakes. Multiply that by all your staff and you’ll see a jump in your electricity bill too.