10 Tips For Planning A Virtual Holiday Party

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The pandemic may have canceled most gatherings and activities that were planned for this year, but you know what isn’t canceled? The holiday season. 

In tough times we look for light, and the happiness, peace, and love that the holidays bring will be the joy that many people missed all year. Unsurprisingly, any special occasions celebrated the rest of the year will look different this time around, but I assure you that they will still be celebrated and enjoyed!

By the time the holiday season rolls around, it might be difficult to host a brag-worthy virtual event; I’m not saying it can’t be done, it’s just going to take an extra dose of creativity as many people will have attended their fair share of virtual get togethers at that point (and let’s be real, we are all craving the true face-to-face interaction that only in-person events allow for).

If you’re planning on throwing a virtual holiday party, consider implementing one or more of the following creative solutions to take things up a notch and really wow your attendees:

  1. Select a dress code/theme and commit to it.
    Having everyone dress up in similar fashion will bring attendees together and likely cause some good laughs. If you’re going to choose a dress code, be sure to fully commit and communicate this to attendees ahead of time so they have time to prepare their outfits. Take this a step further by having attendees vote on best dressed and reward the winner with a small prize.
  2. Send attendees a package of swag, delivered directly to their front porch.
    The opportunities are endless with this one. Include items that guests can enjoy during the event: hot cocoa and a branded mug, an oversized blanket, cozy socks, an ugly sweater, or festive hats or headbands. Be sure to contact your local promotional products distributor — they’ll be able to recommend the best and trendiest in branded holiday swag.
  3. Enjoy cocktails together.
    Virtual happy hours were overdone in the first few months of the pandemic, but if you put a fresh spin on them, the concept can become exciting again. Select two or three cocktail options to mix up together during your virtual event — send your guests an ingredient list prior to the event and hire a cocktail artist to lead the group in mixing the beverages. You can bond over the fact that you’re all sipping on the same tasty treat. Entertainment? Check! Drinks? Check! Conversation starter? Check!
  4. Work together to create a group recipe book.
    Before the event, reach out to your attendees and have them submit their favorite holiday recipes. Combine the submissions into a recipe book that you can include in your pre-event swag bag.
  5. Give a champagne toast.
    This one might get tricky depending on your geographical location, but there are companies out there that specialize in shipping bottles of champagne to people’s doorsteps. Send your team members a bottle of champagne or favorite fizzy drink and include branded glassware in their event welcome kit. During the event, have everyone pop and pour their champagne together and give a toast, just as you would at an in-person gathering.
  6. Create a holiday playlist.
    Ask attendees ahead of time what their all time favorite holiday song is (you could include this as the last question on your registration form or RSVP). During the event, you can enjoy listening to a curated playlist of everyone’s favorite songs.
  7. Hire some form of entertainment for your guests.
    Not only will your guests appreciate the thought and effort that you put into your event planning, but you’ll be supporting artists who are hurting right now from the pandemic. You’ll want to consider which forms of entertainment lend themselves best to a virtual performance, but here are a few options to consider: musicians, magicians, comedians, dueling pianos, a wellness session (yoga, Zumba, meditation, etc.) or hire an artist to lead guests in making some sort of holiday craft or art project.
  8. Host a cookie decorating contest.
    Send your guests the supplies ahead of time and have everyone reveal their best work during the event. Attendees can vote for “most creative”, “most festive”, or other titles, and winners can receive a small gift.
  9. Give back, together.
    Select a nonprofit organization that your guests care about and would like to support. Organize a supply drive or collect donations prior to the event — during the event, reveal what you were able to accomplish as a team. Maybe you coordinate a canned food drive or collect cold weather gear for kids. Incentivize attendees to participate by entering them into a giveaway if they donate to the cause.
  10. Coordinate a group activity.
    You’ll obviously have to think about the logistics of this to ensure it can be done over a video call, but you could lead the group in a game of trivia, virtual icebreakers, a scavenger hunt, or maybe even a murder mystery (do a quick Google search of “virtual murder mystery parties” and you’ll find companies who specialize in hosting these activities). Ask attendees to participate in a pet show-and-tell or have them prepare a lip sync music video in advance to play during the event.

If you’re going to take the time to host a virtual holiday party, be sure to add in some creative elements. An event should be an interactive experience, even if it’s done from the comfort of one’s home. Consider the dress code, food and beverages, entertainment, and swag bag, just as you would for an in-person event — by doing so, you’ll engage your attendees’ five senses and leave them with a new appreciation for virtual events. Don’t let your virtual holiday party be just another video call.