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  • Writer's pictureSarah Butler

Virtual Christmas Parties: Having a blast with your team online

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

Virtual Christmas parties are fast becoming the new standard for businesses with remote workers. With everyone being so busy, the chances of everyone getting together in one room are slim. That’s why virtual celebrations are growing in popularity; they’re easier to organise and don’t require participants to spend lots of money on travel, accommodation, and food.


So how do you plan an epic virtual Christmas party? It’s not as difficult as you might think. As long as you are willing to put in a little effort, you can throw a great party that will leave them all feeling merry until the New Year. Use these simple ideas to make sure your organisation has an unforgettable virtual Christmas party this year.



Set the date

When setting the date and time I recommend making it shorter than you would for an in-person party. That is because people tend to fatigue quicker in the online setting and there isn't the opportunity for the same milling around and simultaneous multiple conversations that ebb and flow face to face. I recommend two-three hours for activities then another 30 minutes or so for free-flowing conversation afterwards.


When sending the invitation set out any requirements such as:

  • Software or app to be used including any special features that people should be familiar with such as use of annotations, break out rooms, screen sharing or whiteboard in preparation for the activities

  • Link for joining

  • Expectations that cameras are to be on for the duration

  • A general timeline such as start and finish times, when activities will take place, time for meals together, and breaks when cameras can be turned off while people refresh

Catering

Like any good host you should provide food and beverages to your attendees. Send each participant an Uber Eats or similar voucher prior so they can order food and drinks of their choice to be delivered to them. Alternatively, have a hamper overflowing with decadent snacks and treats delivered to their doorstep on the day for maximum surprise and delight.

Theme

Like any great Christmas party consider theme'ing it. Not only can people wear fancy dress, but also give them the option of using funny filters and backgrounds to suit the theme if the platform permits. You may also choose to give them the option of changing their profile display name to a nickname or altering their name in some way to suit the theme.



Activities

Like any party, a virtual Christmas party does take some organisation by a dedicated few. There are options online for specialist companies that create and host virtual parties. We will take the DIY approach here because we know our attendees best including what they will like, we want to save money and the following suggested activities have been chosen because they are super easy to set up and run.


Airbnb

Search for Airbnb virtual experiences and you will find a huge variety of online activities that you can do virtually. They even have a special 'Great for groups' section. Choose from activities like 'Drink & Draw', virtual escape rooms, learn to cook, 'Boozy Drag Queen Bingo', magic shows and lessons and much, much more. These activities are usually charged at a per person cost and some have the ability for you to request a closed group for just your attendees. Get in touch with the host well ahead of time to discuss your specific requirements. Or if the budget won't stretch that far take a look anyway and you may be inspired to set up a similar activity on your own like a virtual dance class.


Scavenger hunt

In virtual scavenger hunts, players rush to find items or satisfy challenges before time runs out. Think of items that are available in all homes but not necessarily quick to locate. For example, you might ask people to collect items like an egg beater, umbrella, and ball with the first to retrieve them winning points or a prize (more on rewards shortly). These games are designed to be enjoyable, energetic, and to encourage participation.


Name the baby

Ask attendees to send the organiser a childhood photo ahead of time then share them online during your party. When revealing who the photos are of, ask the relevant person to share some background to the photo - these photos are usually the source of some great stories! It's a great way to get to know each other better.


Team trivia

You can prepare a list of questions and answers for this game or find pre-made ones online. Split up attendees into teams and assign each a breakout room. Whenever you ask a question, broadcast it to the groups in their breakout rooms. The team that comes back with the correct answer first wins the round.


Put in the extra effort and create an online quiz specific to your attendees. Ask participants ahead of time to share with the organiser some unusual facts about themselves and then challenge your attendees to guess who the clue is about. You might ask questions like what is your dream car, what website do you visit most often, what is your favourite all time movie, favourite song etc. Again, this is excellent for initiating the sharing of a lot of personal anecdotes and facilitates team building through the sharing of personal information.


Online tools like Kahoot can assist to create digital quizzes that participants use their phones to answer or you could simply use a slides presentation with one question per slide.


Karaoke

Perhaps best left to the latter part of the party and open to volunteers only (do not make people do this if they are uncomfortable). Just like in the club, people can put their name down to give it a go. Then just get them to find the song on YouTube by doing this 'Search [song title] karaoke' and then share their screen as they belt it out.


Dance

Hold your own dance party by using this suggested method. Find a live-stream DJ on Twitch (so that it sounds as good as possible for everyone). Everyone mutes and opens the same Twitch stream in a web browser. The music will play directly on participants' computers, allowing them to turn it up as loud as they want. Make sure everyone has their cameras on and set to gallery view for the best atmosphere.


Talent show

This is great for team building. Group participants into teams ahead of time and ask them to prepare an act that they will perform at the Christmas Party. Don't place restrictions - let everyone use their imagination. Ideas include singing, dancing, mime, stand-up comedy, skits, and impersonations. Award points or prizes for the team voted the best.


Pet show

Who doesn't love showing off their furry friends? Have a segment of your Christmas Party as a pet show where people get the opportunity to show off their animals. They might dress them up to the theme, show off some cool tricks or simply introduce them to the other attendees. This is a great activity to encourage more introverted people out of their shell without making them feel too self-conscious.


Prize ideas

As well as the obvious prizes like vouchers think outside of the box about other rewards people might value. For a workplace offer things like finishing early, a sleep in day, a free day off, an extra long lunch, a coffee with the CEO, a donation to the charity of their choice, something special in the stationery order, free parking for a week - anything that can be perceived as a desirable treat. Best of all, they may not even cost any money such as giving away an extra long lunch break - the recipient values it but it does not cost the organisation anything.


Conclusion

Planning an epic virtual Christmas party can seem like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. By using some of these ideas, you’ll easily be able to throw a successful party that is enjoyable for everyone, regardless of where they’re located.


Get everyone involved, organise it yourself to personalise it as much as possible to the attendees and keep it simple. The best activities are those that are easily understood and open to participation by all no matter where they are located in the world.

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