Are you missing getting a meal with your office colleagues post work? If you thought it’s impossible to throw your now-virtual office a party, think again! You just need to think outside the box when planning a virtual dinner party.
No matter what our way of working, we’re conditioned to socialize. The absence of a social element to work makes us feel like something’s missing. Virtual parties provide the platform for remote and distributed teams to mingle, munch and participate in games, quizzes and contests.
This blog contains advice and ideas to help you conduct a memorable virtual dinner party for the team, so keep reading!
1. What is a Virtual Dinner Party?
A virtual dinner party, as the name suggests, is a dinner party that is conducted digitally. People join over a virtual platform such as Zoom or Skype, as opposed to convening at a venue for a collocated party. Virtual dinner parties have theme and dress code options to make things more interesting.
Attendees converse with each other in breakout rooms, play games, watch movies, and catch up with each other in a casual context.
2. Best practices to host a virtual dinner party
2.1 Plan the party beforehand
If you’re looking to host a virtual dinner party, then you need a proper plan in advance. For instance, you need to:
- Set the theme of the party.
- Select the invitees.
- Choose a dress code if necessary.
- List the activities of the party.
Without that planning, you won’t be able to put it all together. If you don’t have any experience of hosting a party, you can take help from virtual party planners. A few examples of them are Cvent, Virtual Party Planner, etc. You can fill in their e tools can select the type of party you want and the tool will tell you what to do step-by-step.
2.2 Send invites to people
Nobody likes a last-minute invitation. And if you don’t want to fly solo to this party, you must inform everyone ahead of time in order to make sure they are free and available.
Sending party invites beforehand helps avoid chaos. It also gives you ample time to make changes to the menu, or to orders for party decor, food, and beverages.
Guests can be invited via email, text, or with a virtual service like Evite. You can even create an event on Facebook. If you are using Zoom or Teams, it creates an RSVP link for people to respond.
2.3 Select the platform for the party
Since this will be a virtual party, you need a platform where everyone can meet. Selecting that platform is also a part of party planning. Note that if you have been hosting office meetings, then this won’t be a big issue for you.
There are various virtual platforms to choose from. Some of them are:
- Zoom: It is free and easy to download. It allows up to 100 people on a video call. You can have a 40-minute free meeting. Also, you can have a premium account.
- Skype: Skype is free to download and can handle up to 50 people for about four hours.
- FaceTime: It can accommodate 32 people. However, they have to be Apple products like an iPhone or iPad.
- Google Hangouts: Hangouts can serve up to 25 people. You can share your screen with others (but just one person at a time can do so!).
2.4 Set the mood for the party
Don’t you like a restaurant or venue with the right ambiance? Eating your food at a place with the right lighting,decor and music playing in the background hits differently.
Since you are hosting this virtual dinner party, you must consider the mood you wish to create, including the music playlist, background themes, and even the dress code.
Like virtual planners, you can get virtual themes. All you need to do is to select the theme that seems best. You can even ask the participants for their opinions.
2.5 Arrange for cocktails and catering
Ask around to reach a consensus on the menu. You can appoint an FnB (food and beverages) committee and let teams take up tasks with respect to logistics and coordination. Or, if you wish to keep things simple, request everyone to whip up their favorite finger food. You can provide a little culinary assistance by giving a groceries allowance to the team.
2.6 Plan a menu for everyone
Select the menu according to your theme and invitation. For instance, if your theme is based on ‘ Cinco de Mayo,’ you can have Mexican delicacies on the menu.
Encourage party attendees to make their own suggestions. You can even create a poll on the choices and pick the option that gets the most votes!
2.7 Keep it fun and lively
This is the most important step. The purpose of having virtual dinner parties is to enable team members to fraternize through a social opportunity. It will, of course, be a little awkward in the beginning, especially if it’s your first time organizing such an event. With the right icebreaker questions, however,everyone will relax as they break the ice over conversations and team-building games, and activities. Games such as Pictionary, puzzles, murder mysteries, etc., are great for keeping the party going.
3. Types of Virtual Dinner Parties
3.1 Virtual Cooking Class
If you’re ready to don an apron, then you’re sure to enjoy a virtual cooking class!
Maybe there’s a colleague who is a great chef, and he/she wants you to try out a recipe. At this dinner party, you can ask members to try out a recipe and cook it. Or you can ask them to cook food that they like the most but never even dared to make. Everyone can take pictures of their dishes and even post them online. You can also have a competition for the best-looking dish among yourselves.
Virtual cooking classes are a great way to bond. Apart from learning culinary skills, people can discuss cooking techniques, favorite meals, most enormous kitchen fails, and so on.
3.2 Virtual Wine Tasting
Dinner parties are not just about the great dishes. It’s about keeping all your guests entertained and engaged. One way of doing that is to conduct a virtual wine tasting.
Rather than cooking an elaborate dinner, you can try on delicious wines. For that, you can either sponsor the wines at company expense or ask your employees to pick their favorites. Moreover, you can even ship them a case of wine from a sommelier.
If you are sending wine kits to the participants then you should know who are the best wine producers. For instance, Matthiasson Wines are a six-time James Beard award finalist. For their wine, you have to order a tasting pack of six wines and set up a virtual meeting for the tasting and virtual vineyard tour. All your team members can join the tour. You can also order more wine bottles if required.
3.3 Virtual Game and Dinner Night
Virtual games and dinner parties are the most common dinner parties that get hosted. If you’re hosting it yourself, you can encourage teammates to provide suggestions in the group channel. You can even vote on the games to narrow it down to the top 5. Once you have your list, you can see which ones are best facilitated by a host or can be self-hosted. As for the food side of things, surprise your team with a kerbside drop off of a snackbox!
Encourage everyone to take screenshots or pictures of their meals and create a poll to decide the best dish. As a reward, the winner can pick the first game to be played.
3.4 Virtual Mystery Party
Virtual mystery parties are conducted in online ‘rooms’ complete with a plot, characters, time limit, and clues. Your dinner party guests will be assigned. As the host, you can organize mystery parties for your participants. There are various murder mystery game sets that you can acquire online.
These parties help in improving collaboration and team camaraderie. Moreover, as people find clues and solve riddles to find the murderer, it helps in developing your analytical skills as well. Lastly, the game can be played in any imaginary exotic place and everyone is given a character. Thus, people can really enjoy the setting and create a lot of fun memories.
3.5 Virtual Dinner Movie Night
Who doesn’t like to watch a good movie with great food on the table? And when you are watching one as a group, it gets a lot more fun.
Virtual dinner movie nights are the best, you need to select a bunch of movies and send them to the members so that they can choose. You may even sync using Netflix Party and watch a movie or a series. And as for the questions and the thoughts, you can create a chatroom and exchange your messages.
4. Top games for your virtual dinner parties
This game is an age-old classic. Pictionary is the go-to game for almost all parties or get-togethers.
The host will divide the members into two teams. Following that, he/she will open a Pictionary Word Generator and select a team member. That person has to generate the word, and draw it within 1 minute. The others have to guess. The team with the most guesses wins.
Who said poker requires money to play? In Texas Holdem, which is an online poker game, every player can start with five virtual chips. These chips are their “lives.” Every time a player loses a round, they have to give up one of the chips. The player with the most chips remaining at the end wins.
4.3 Murder Mystery games
If you love Sherlock Holmes and want to get a taste of solving a murder, here’s your chance!
Murder mystery games are famous all around the world because the time limit to solve the mystery using the clues or hints given gets your adrenaline pumping. The characters have to find evidence, question suspects, and find the killer.
My team and I played a murder mystery game last month using You Dunnit. We only needed 15 minutes to create the game and played it using our phones. All I had to do was make a victim, create a crime scene, and describe the characters. Following that, I introduced the description of a murder setting and provided character details to the participants.
The members found evidence by solving the riddles that I gave them. We even had interrogation sessions and put suspects under “custody”. In the end, the “detectives” apprehended the “culprit”.
Yahtzee is a simple game. All it involves are five dice, a cup, and a scorecard. In the virtual version, the players will roll the dice and select the best possible score. Each player will get 3 rolls at one go. They have to write the score on the card. At the end, the person with the most points will win.
Yahtzee games are fun to play when you want a great conversation. You can have long talks in between turns, helping you build team collaboration and engagement.
4.5 Virtual Jeopardy
This game is the digital version of the famous game show ‘Jeopardy.’ We played Arkadium’s Jeopardy last week. The players got topic-based clues for which the answers are given. But the twist was that our responses had to be framed into a question.
When we logged in, a board opened with three topics and 4 clues apiece (12 clues in total). We had to select any topic and answer it in the best way possible. Our scores were based on the level of the questions and the hint difficulty. The value of points and the difficulty level increased as we moved across the board.
4.6 Virtual Scavenger Hunt
Virtual scavenger hunts are another growing party game. The host may divide the members into teams and begin the course. There will be an ultimate prize that the participants have to find. The host will provide them with the first riddle, which will get them to the second clue. The clue may be located at a different place or within the house. Likewise, the consecutive riddles will give them one indication after another until they reach the final prize. The team or person who reaches the hidden prize first will win the game.
4.7 Virtual Mixology
In this game, the participants will be delivered mini cocktail kits with different drinks. The host will have a live demonstration video of how to mix the drinks and create the cocktail. The members have to do as shown in the video and create their own cocktails. Ultimately, the person whose cocktail looks similar to the one shown in the video will win.
4.8 Escape room
In this virtual game, the participants’ digital “avatars” will be locked inside a room, with every exit sealed off. They have to find keys that are hidden using the clues that they find. When all the keys are retrieved, the participants can open the locks and escape the room. Simple, right?
This game is excellent for uplifting team spirit and improving collaboration. It is one of the best team-building activities because everyone has to discuss strategy, distribute tasks amongst themselves and work as a team.
Who hasn’t heard of Scrabble? I’m certain all of you have played this word-building game at some point!
Virtual Scrabble provides you with a digital game board, 100 letter tiles, a letter bag, and four racks. Before the game starts, participants should agree upon the dictionary that they will use.
You must place all letters in the pouch, or face down beside the board, and mix them up. A participant will draw for the first play. If a player has a blank tile, then he/she must return the letters to the pool and remix. Each player will draw seven new letters and place them on their racks.
In the end, the player with the most points will win the game.
5.1 Why are virtual dinner parties essential for remote team building?
Hosting a virtual dinner party is a great way to encourage everyone to take a break and have a little downtime with their colleagues. It boosts relationships, lets people talk about their personal lives, and get to know each other outside of work.
Besides, various surveys show that these kinds of meetups can improve productivity. enhance cooperation and teamwork.
5.2 What are the best backgrounds for virtual dinner parties?
It depends on the theme of your party. For instance, if you have a party based on Halloween, your background should also have a spooky touch. There are templates to choose from, or you can install an app to match your background to the chosen theme.
5.3 What are the top tools to host digital dinner parties?
Some of the best virtual platforms to host parties are Zoom, Skype, Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, etc. You will get about 1 hour of party time on these tools if you have a free account. Otherwise, you can have a premium account and enjoy your parties for as long as you want.
5.4 What are the best dishes for virtual dinner parties?
It also depends on what people want. However, you should always take up dishes that aren’t too elaborate, demanding or require expensive ingredients. A nacho bowl, steamed bao, egg rolls, baked Mac ‘N’ cheese, bread baskets, sliders, cheeses and wine pairings always do well at parties!