Virtual Holiday Parties: 24 Ways to Celebrate the Season Online (Without Being Lame)
December is here, and it’s time for holiday parties...ONLINE holiday parties! Things are different this year. With school, work, and even our workouts done virtually, everybody’s pretty Zoomed out. So, how do you make your holiday party feel like more than just another meeting?
Whether you’re planning a family gathering, an office party, a kids playdate, or an adults night out, it IS possible to bring out the festive, joyful feelings of the winter holidays in a virtual way.
Read on for 24 Virtual Holiday Party ideas.
- Assign a Host to introduce activities and keep things moving along. This could be yourself or someone who likes to lead or present. This may be obvious for office parties. For family gatherings, make it clear in the invitation that there will be scheduled activities that a host will lead everyone through.
- Communicate Early. Give plenty of time for everyone to gather or buy supplies and get their tech set up.
- Keep it Cohesive. Your celebration will feel more festive when everyone has the same party stuff—whether that’s a costume or prop, food items, or materials for games. Drop off a party package to each guest in advance, or arrange for everyone to pick one up. If that’s not possible, send a list of materials everyone should gather around the house, plus links to matching party gear everyone should order.
- Prep the Tech. What’s the quickest way to kill your party atmosphere? Make everyone wait around while Grandma tries to unmute herself. Make sure everyone has a Zoom account set up in advance, and do a run-through a day or two before your event. Then, you can dive right into the fun stuff and keep your guests feeling festive.
- Keep it Short. Keep it Moving. Be Flexible. Just pick a few activities. Your plan is there to stimulate conversation, competition, and fun, and to ward off awkward silences. If everyone is having a blast doing something that’s off-agenda, roll with it.
- Have Fun!
Winter Wonderland - Non-Christmas, Kid-Friendly Party Ideas
Ready for some good, clean, chilly fun?
Don’t Break the Ice - Read off a list of items (progressively further away from the computer). Players must go get the item and bring it back, without stepping on the ice (floor).
Download the Winter Wonderland Scavenger Hunt, which will keep everyone on their toes, and Think Fast, a quick-moving word game.
Make a Sock Monkey (see Dec. 14) or a Snowman for someone to snuggle up with in front of the fire on a cold day.
Cocoa Taste Test - Start with 3 small mugs of hot chocolate. Add a different flavor to each one, try them all, and vote on your favorite.
Flavors to try: Peppermint Candy Cane, Cayenne & Cinnamon (aka, Mexican Cocoa), Sea Salt & Caramel, Maraschino Cherry, Orange, Raspberry… Adults can try some using liqueur flavorings. Find recipes for 22 types of hot chocolate at Brit + Co.
Read a Story - Try The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats.
The People You Work With - Office Holiday Party
Compliments Tag - The party emcee starts. Type a message in the chat with a compliment about one person. That person then types a compliment to someone else (be sure to choose someone who hasn’t already had a compliment). Continue until everyone has had a turn.
Stealthy Elf - Give everyone 5 or 10 minutes to create an elf out of any supplies at hand. Throughout the party, sneak your elf onto the screen (in the background, hidden in your clothes, sneaking up from the bottom of the screen, etc.) Each time you show the elf, you get a point. If someone sees it, you’re out (but you still get that point.) The person with the most points at the end of the party wins. Tally your own points—honor method.
Secret Santa - A gift exchange in a virtual environment is a little tricky. Start early and instruct everyone to send their anonymous gift to the recipient, to be opened during your Zoom call (be sure to use your company HQ address in the return address spot). Try to guess who the giver is, based on the gift itself.
The Naughty List - Each person holds up 10 fingers to start. The host reads a list of “naughty” holiday statements. (For example, ‘I have re-gifted a present’). Players put one finger down for each statement that is not true for them. Person with the most fingers left up is at the top of the naughty list.
Can You Hear Me Now? - Test your communication skills. The speaker is given a simple line drawing, which s/he describes to everyone else using only geometric terms. The others draw what is being described. When five minutes is up, compare the original picture with whatever your co-workers have drawn. Do they look the same?
Silly Staff Awards - (Requires Advance Preparation) Before the party, think of a funny award for each person attending. They can be humorous or serious, or a combination of both. (for example: Most likely to be wearing pajama pants. Longest hair growth during lock down.) Read the description and let people try to guess who the recipient of each award may be.
You Gotta Love ‘Em - Family Holiday Gathering
Awkward Family Photo Recreations - (Requires advance preparation) Have each household recreate a childhood photo with similar clothes & pose. Show the photo & then see the re-enactment live. Vote for funniest, best interpretation, most changed, etc.
Two Truths & a Lie: Choose a category like ‘Truly Awful Gifts & Holiday Memories’ (be careful not to offend anyone who may have given you that gift!). Each person takes a turn telling two things that are true, and one lie (in random order). Everyone else tries to guess which was the lie. Wrong guesses each earn a point for the Speaker. Correct guesses earn a point for the guesser. Play until everyone has had a turn.
White Elephant Gift Exchange - Ask everyone to wrap something they already have but no longer want. At your event, choose names randomly. The first person chooses any gift, and the giver opens it and displays it for everyone to see. The second person chooses whether to steal the first gift or choose an unopened gift to open. If your gift is stolen, you can steal or open a new gift. Keep going until everyone has opened something. Player 1 may do a final steal. Everyone delivers or mails their gift to the final recipient after your party.
Retire that Holiday Attire! - This goes beyond the ugly sweater contest. Read off a list of holiday clothing items and accessories (holiday socks, anything with a jingle bell, etc.). Each person tallies how many of those items s/he is wearing. The person wearing the most items of holiday garb wins.
Poker Face Thank Yous Photo Shoot - Ever receive a really awful or strange gift? Pretend you just opened one in front of the person who gave it to you, and pose for a screen shot with the look on your face as you react to the item and thank them for being so thoughtful.
Wrapping Paper Recreations - Choose a movie and try to get people to guess what it is by re-creating a scene using only wrapping paper, a box, tape/scissors, & a bow.
Girls Night Out (Without Going Out at All)
Glam it Up Model Walk - Get dressed up, just like you would if you were going out to a New Year’s Eve party. Pair up in breakout rooms for 10-15 minutes & write a runway description of your partner’s outfit. Back with the group, each guest takes a turn on the ‘catwalk,’ with their partner reading the description. Take screenshots or video. It may be the only time during quarantine you’re this glammed up!
Ten Strikes - This is 'Never Have I Ever' with an online twist. Everyone holds up all 10 fingers. The youngest person goes first & shares a true statement about themselves. Everyone else either keeps all their fingers up (if the statement is true for you too); Or puts down one finger (if the statement is NOT true for you). The last person with any fingers up wins a spot on the Nice list.
Mixology - Share the recipes for two fancy cocktails, and make them together. OR Have each person take a turn to demonstrate how to make their favorite drink recipe with the group (Be sure to share supply lists in advance).
Holiday Special - Turn non-Christmas movies into Christmas movies by describing a fictional “deleted scene” The most outlandish wins.
Hallmark Holiday Movie Buzzwords - Make a list together of the cheesiest themes and sappiest words featured in holiday romance movies. Then watch one together and be the first to call out every time your words come up.
I hope these holiday party ideas help you have a Virtual Holiday Party to Remember! Feel free to mix and match the games, or change the themes and make your party your own.
What do you Think?
Which of these activities are you most excited to try? I’d love to hear how your online holiday party goes. Please let us know in the comments below.
Here’s to a safe holiday season filled with festive celebrations with friends and family, near and far.
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