My favorite part about working on the weekends. Kidding aside, a long break from work is just what everyone needs to recharge, especially when you’re logged in to work all day from home and need time for yourself. Virtual holiday party ideas take inspiration from the holiday’s significance, such as New Year’s, Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, or Eid.
Some are in remembrance or commemorate victorious occasions such as Cinco de Mayo and the Thai Lantern festival. Virtual holiday party ideas recreate the ambiance of in-office celebrations on video conference platforms.
Everyone deserves to party together, no matter how senior they are. So, here are a few exciting ideas to try out for your next virtual holiday party!
1. What is a Virtual Holiday Party?
A virtual holiday party is an online celebration of a particular holiday or events of cultural and historic significance. The bigger the organization, the more people you’ll add to the guest list. Virtual parties differ from offline parties in that you’re doing this on a distributed platform for a network of remote employees rather than at a physical location. In other words, you don’t have to rent out a venue to accommodate large numbers.
What really sets the mood is following a theme and having everyone dress up to add to the festivities! You can also play a short reel or a Youtube video that explains more about the occasion.
A holiday party for virtual offices lets party-goers mingle one last time before the holidays begin. You’ll do everything you would at an actual party, from taking part in games and team-building activities to laughing at a coworker’s wisecracks and loading your plate up with finger food. The only difference is that everyone isn’t in the same room when it’s happening. Instead, you’re facetiming on camera through Zoom, MS Teams, or any other messaging platform!
There are compelling reasons to try out a few virtual holiday party ideas, which include
- Recounting the most recent achievements.
- Toasting to a department or unit reaching critical milestones.
- Recognizing and appreciating the top-performers.
- Departmental teams getting reacquainted and catching up with one another.
- Having fun contesting in trivia games, talent shows and much more!
- Starting your holiday in high spirits!
2. How to Start Planning a Virtual Holiday Party
2.1. Finalize the number of participants
A great party is a full house! The planning starts with picking a time that works for everyone. Taking concurrence from all attendees lets you plan the rest of the things out, such as the quantity of food and beverages you’ll need to arrange for, or any subscriptions to online games, if applicable. It would be ideal if everyone can stay the entire time, but do prepare for people excusing themselves early if they wish to.
2.2. Set some housekeeping rules
As more guests join in, there’s bound to be abrupt disconnections, echoes, dropouts, or lags. And the worst of these minor annoyances are people speaking over each other. Set housekeeping rules about when to have your camera on or off and muting and unmuting. If everyone follows this, they’ll be able to truly enjoy the party experience. Choose a platform that features breakout rooms so that the host can break the group size up. Everyone can interact more freely without noise and chaos.
2.3. Block the calendar
Calendar the event using apps like Calendly, and make sure RSVPs go out to all. Sending the mail on high alert can ensure people view the invite and respond in time.
2.4. Prepare and send out invites
If you’ve got graphic designers on board, have them design the invitations. You can also use templates from websites like GreetingsIsland and Canva to finalize the design. Make sure to mention the time and provide the meeting link in the invite. The marketing team can come up with the invitation’s content and make it as creative as they like. Encouraging members to take an active role in the planning makes them feel more involved. Also, they’re unlikely to forget when it’s happening when they’re at the center of party planning!
2.5. Sponsor food and beverages
Once you have your headcount, you can budget your food and drinks accordingly. Take into consideration the time deliveries will take, especially if people are in a different country. You can create a poll to see which snack options everyone’s voting for. Close the poll once all the votes are in. If the logistics prove challenging, you can create an expense account instead and set a drawing limit per employee for party hampers or snacks. Alternatively, set a budget under which everyone gets their favorite food themselves and narrow it down to the top 5 or 10 that most parties have. The list includes crisps, microwaveable popcorn, cupcakes, fruit bars, punch, hot dogs, mini quiches, and sandwiches!
3. Virtual Holiday Party Ideas
3.1. Santa Costume Contest
One of the best virtual holiday party ideas before the long Christmas break is to have a Santa costume contest! You can even award extra points for the unique twist people make to their outfits, such as sporting string lights, or using props such as fake reindeer, a sack of gifts slung over their shoulder, and a sleigh. The person who manages to reproduce the best Ho Ho Hos in their elaborate outfit wins a virtual Christmas stocking.
There’s another guessing game to play, which I like to call Guess the Grinch. Here’s how you play it;
- Privately message a minimum of 3 to 5 guests to ask if they’d like to play as the game’s subject, aka the Grinch plotting to steal Christmas.
- Once the cosplayers are finalized, create a secret group chat for discussions and picture sharing.
- They can decide amongst themselves who gets to be the Grinch. While everyone dresses up as Santa, the person selected to be the Grinch has to mask their identity underneath their Santa costume. For example, they can paint their hands green instead of their face, or wear a different set of fake glasses.
- You can create clues in poetry, limerick song form to waylay the guessers.
- Have everyone turn their camera on once they’re ready to start guessing.
- The person who guesses it right on the first try gets a candy cane. If you guess wrong, you get a virtual lump of coal (sorry!).
3.2. Cultural representation
If your office is fairly multicultural, there are bound to be minor festivals native to a particular region that a team member or two celebrate privately. Find out when that is, and schedule the party prep accordingly. You can enlist the member’s help to create a short presentation on its history, influence, and way of celebrating. Let them take charge, such as deciding on a dance recital or performing a song, story voiceover, or skit. Such virtual holiday party ideas make the teammates proud of their heritage and allow the others to learn something new about their colleagues!
3.3. Fairy tale roundtable
This virtual holiday party lets family members take part too. Working parents can bring their young kids onto the call, and take turns to read fairy tales out loud. They can form an acting cast with other attendees enacting certain scenes. For example, if the story is about Little Red Riding Hood, one parent can act as the Big Bad Wolf while other colleagues play supporting characters such as Little Red’s grandma. Bringing the fairy tale to life will make the party interesting for adults and kids alike!
3.4. Light lamps or lanterns
Diwali is the Indian festival of lights celebrated usually in November. It signifies good triumphing over evil, or light over darkness. People celebrate it as a fresh start and decorate their doorstep with clay lamps and floral arrangements. They wear their finest clothes, pay household visits, burst fireworks, and exchange sweets and savories with everyone they know.
Everyone should wear their finest ethnic suits and dresses while munching on delectable sweetmeats, known as mithai. You can arrange to have a mithai box sent to everyone which will contain a selection of milk and ghee-based sweets. Given that it’s a festival displaying lamps, move the party towards the end of the day so that the lamps can be lit and shown on camera for everyone to appreciate the arrangement!
3.5. Silent night movie
Have an online movie night where you’ll screen share a horror or thriller for the guests to watch. You can do this via Zoom, Skype, or Gaze. It syncs the video feed and lets everyone watch at the same time. Through Gaze, you can create and send an invitation link to the rest of the team and play the movie once everyone’s in. It’ll be hilarious if you manage to capture people’s reactions to the scary bits!
3.6. Holiday Gallery
Have fun creating works of art to go up on your company’s very first holiday gallery! This can be showcased in future meetings, or even set as a background in line with team spirit. Set a time limit and a theme or subject everyone should work on. It can be a representation of what the holiday means to them. Give a 30-second warning and start a countdown before everyone steps back from their work and holds it up in front of the camera for the group to see. This is a great photo op so make sure you get it on record!
3.7. Gratitude Quest
Team Building offers a Kindness Quest which lasts for about 1.5 hours for team sizes between 9 to 300+ guests. It’s a hosted Zoom event that will take your group through a series of activities to build a community within your company.
If you wish to start small, just form a circle where everyone talks about something or someone at work that they are thankful for, and do a gift exchange and unboxing between colleagues and managers. The pairs have to get their teammate a present based on how well they know each other and later talk about why they chose that item in particular.
3.8. Girgaian Sweetbox
Girgaian sweet boxes are great virtual holiday party ideas for your Middle Eastern coworkers. And they will definitely love you for remembering! Girgaian, also spelled as Qirquain or Gargee’an, is a tradition observed in Arab countries after Ramadan ends. It is similar to Halloween, where children dress up in traditional Arab headdresses and go door to door singing folk songs and holding out their baskets for sweets. Unlike Halloween, there’s no horror involved. If someone owns musical instruments such as the Oud or Doumbek (Darbuka) or has a playlist for Arabic music, it can help set the mood and help everyone to appreciate a richly different culture!
4. Virtual Holiday Party Games
4.1. Gift unboxing
Did you make it to Santa’s Naughty or Nice list this year? Do a secret Santa exchange and sort names at random to make sure everyone on the team gets to give an item to someone. Surprise everyone by ordering a Caroo box using Snacknation’s online form!
4.2. The Statue
Ever struggled to keep a deadpan expression while someone actively tries to get you to crack? The Statue game can be played in turns with the video on. Whoever smiles first loses, while whoever manages to remain a statue until everyone’s out wins!
4.3. Never have I ever-The holiday edition
Never have I ever.. Called my teacher mom? Thrown up after a ride? Binned the broccoli on my dinner plate? Get interesting and funny responses to this classic game with the holiday twist. You can choose from over 140 questions here, or create your own. If you’re like me and just caught up with season 2 of Devi Vishwakumar’s drama on Netflix, you can have a Never Have I ever episode discussion too!
4.4. Who is most likely to?
Host a light-hearted trivia night on who is most likely to do something. For example, which co-worker is most likely to forget to unmute themselves when speaking? Or, who is most likely to own a vintage car or motorcycle? You can hold a polling contest to see who is voting on an answer and matching it to their co-worker. Whoever gets most of the questions right can be declared the game’s champion!
5. Relatable Virtual holiday party memes
5.1. The Meeteaters
When HR announces a virtual holiday party, you’ll probably think, Finally! a meeting we can truly look forward to! Steve Carell’s memes are undoubtedly the best at conveying Office jokes, and I’m not saying this just because I happen to love the Office!
5.2. The Pajama Party
You may miss your office desk and coworkers, but you have now worked remotely for so long, you’ve forgotten where your dry-cleaned formal wear is in the closet. Isn’t it a relief to be attending a party more informal? Let’s get those comfy jammies in!
5.3. Before, and After
Everyone’s on their best behavior at the beginning of the holiday party. But when there’s an open bar with happy hour cocktails, there’s definitely going to be a before, and after version of either yourself or someone, you know!
5.4. The Dancing Queen/ King
You know how your boss can be about deadlines, but how would you react if they showed off their best moves on the dance floor? Here’s a remote work meme capturing what happens when your prim and proper manager becomes the life of the party!
6. More fun virtual holiday party ideas
6.1. Virtual team karaoke
You can organize an entire karaoke competition on your video conferencing tools. You can even record the entire event and play them at other events later if you wish. However, before you organize a karaoke party with your remote colleagues, do remember to plan well ahead of the event date. When you plan early, you can get more people on board with the idea. It also gives you more time to convince the ones who are shy.
Do not forget to create yourself a karaoke playlist and have the lyrics of those songs ready. If you wish, you can set up a karaoke DJ and hand that person the reins of the party. A tipping jar for great performances can also be a great way to up the ante.
6.2. Online bingo party
Bingo parties have always been fun, but have you ever played it online? Online Bingo follows the same rules as the popular game itself, with the key difference being the replacement of the traditional balls by an online number generator.
Organizing a successful online bingo party is very easy. Just set up a meeting, hand over the invites and bingo boards, and you’re good to go! If you want to up the stakes, you can also add rewards for the winners. Online bingo events are quite engaging and create amazing team bonds. Who knows, you might just find your next office bestie over a round of virtual Bingo.
6.3. Virtual escape game
An escape game is a great way to boost your remote team’s camaraderie because it’s guaranteed you’ll be glued to your screens when you play it. The Escape Game is a US-based company that lets your colleagues play in a remote adventure environment with various themes and degrees of difficulty.
The game accommodates small (up to 8) and large (25+) groups, so you should not have any issues getting whole departments or the entire office into it. The games are built for remote workspaces and distributed teams, and arranging them is a breeze. To create a better experience, you get a friendly host who’ll join you on a zoom call and guide you throughout the game. For small groups, the game costs $32-35 per player. However, if you have a group of 25 or more, you’ll have to fill out an online form. Learn more about the game here.
6.4. Virtual wine tasting
Now, this is one of the party ideas that will definitely have everyone’s ears pop up, and taste buds too. Wine tasting is a classic experience and many have stopped visiting wineries because of the pandemic. But the wineries of the world have stood up to the challenge and are eager to bring the experience to your home. This is why virtual wine tasting has really taken off.
Virtual wine tasting parties are a delicious and rich way to bring your remote employees together and improve their bond. Once you zero in on the winery and the package, you can have wine tasting kits sent to the addresses of your staff. These events are usually headed by an official from the winery who gives you information about the wines and helps you get the most from experience. We recommend you try some of the wines from The Bordeaux Concierge, Torciano and Samsara Wine. If you’re still at a loss and cannot decide which winery or plan to choose, here’s a few tasteful ideas to get you started.
6.5. Virtual talent shows
Back when offices were open, talent shows were all the rage. These shows gave everyone the chance to show off their talents and appreciate each other’s skills. Well, if you remember those days and want to relive them again, a virtual talent show is your best bet. The virtual talent show will be hosted on a video conferencing platform, but the level of pizzazz remains the same. Do choose an emcee who will play the role of announcing the arrival of the participants.
To make it even more interesting and competitive, you could even involve some people from the upper management to preside as judges, who will decide upon the winner. Performances such as dancing, singing, miming, cooking, juggling, magic tricks – everything is on the board. In case needed, you can even involve the employees’ families or friends into the program. Still at a loss for ideas? Don’t worry, here are a few tips to help you create the most wonderful talent show ever.
6.6. Murder mystery games
Are murder mysteries something that you find intriguing? If your answer is yes, then hosting online murder mystery games can be yet another way for you to improve the team spirit of the workforce.
Games can be an amazing way for your entire team to work in cohesion. They get your mind racing and bring out your competitive best, providing a much-needed break from the monotony of office work. Murder mysteries such as Outback, That Show For Love by Ghost Ship Murder Mysteries and The Night of Mystery are only some of the games that will have your team engaged. Some murder mystery games are available absolutely free of cost, while others may come with monthly subscription fees, usually around $25 to $40. Regardless of their prices and difficulty levels, these games will surely help you know who’s the best detective in your team.
6.7. Online jeopardy games
You have to admit that the American Jeopardy trivia game show really had all of us glued to the TV screens. If you’re looking to bring forward that kind of energy and enthusiasm into your next virtual party, then you should definitely try out a few online jeopardy games.
Due to the global popularity of the original game show, there are numerous websites and apps that let you play Jeopardy online. These games maintain the same experience of the original show, and can be played on any virtual meeting platform. Websites like Playfactile, Jeopardy Labs, Trainingarcade.com, Arkadium and many more enable you to have the same experience that you had as a child. These games can instill a sense of competition, bring friendly rivalry amongst co-workers and provide the right amount of nostalgia to take you back to the old days.
6.8. Happy hour cocktail kits
Few things sound better than taking your working socks off during office hours, sitting back, relaxing and taking a sip off that cocktail kit sent from your office. Agreed, being drunk at work might raise some eyebrows, but hey, nothing builds a bond like getting drunk with your co-workers and having a few laughs.
These cocktail kits are a great concoction for everyone to have a relaxing happy hour. There are options even for those who don’t drink alcohol, so you’re assured in that department as well. Some of the virtual happy hour cocktail kits available are: W&P’s virtual happy hour cocktail kit, Amber Ale Kit at City Brew Tours, Fistful of Bourbon kit and the Colour changing gin infusion kit by Sandy Leaf farm. If you want to know more about these cocktail kits, or wish to explore more ideas, head here.
6.9. Virtual jigsaw puzzles
Jigsaw puzzles will give anyone a blast from the past. There’s nothing that screams joy like setting up tiny bits of puzzles together to form a giant image. But, have you ever thought of playing jigsaw puzzles with your online workforce? If you haven’t, then you should definitely try it out for the next virtual party you organize. Rest assured; laughter filled conversations will surely be there.
Online puzzles can be high on the fun and complexity range, so you have to choose wisely. Some amazing options that let you experience the nostalgic game with your remote employees are: Microsoft Jigsaw, Jigsaw Planet, GamesGames, Jigsaw Explorer, Magic Jigsaw Puzzle and many more. You can pre-plan the games and create equal sized teams for everyone to have a fair chance of winning. Also, do remember to keep the difficulty level the same for all, and you’ll be all set!
6.10. Scavenger hunt
A virtual scavenger is an online game, where the task is to find things that are mentioned on the given list. The activities enable you and the participants to engage in analytical thinking, while improving their problem-solving capabilities. The game also has a time limit, to create a sense of urgency and boost decision making.
It’s an amazing team building opportunity, and guess what, organizing them is fairly simple too. Just set up an invite when everyone is available, get them on a video conference, provide them a list of things with a deadline, and set them off to hunt. Here are some ideas for you to explore so that you have an unforgettable experience with the entire team.
6.11. Minute to win it
Minute to win it games, as the name suggests, are really short and entertaining. Armed with a time limit of 60 seconds, participants have to complete the tasks given to them using household tasks or anything that’s near their hands. These games can be played by individuals, groups or even entire teams.
While extremely short, there’s a huge variety of these games and can be challenging. Games such as face the cookie, cup tower, sort the cards, cup flip, roll with it, fetch that, separation anxiety are a few games that will help your remote workforce to bond.
6.12. Virtual game night
It’s well known that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Indeed, with everyone working remotely all day, fun and games do take a back seat. But not when you organize a game night party for everyone in the office. For your next meeting, you could try to organize a virtual game night that ends the day with a smile on everyone’s face.
Online game nights may take some prior planning, and could require people clearing their schedules to ensure availability. Some of the activities that you can include are pop quizzes, puzzles, brain teasers and contests. However, don’t keep yourself limited to these. If you have a great idea which will add to the frolicking of a game night, you can surely proceed.
6.13. Virtual games for large groups
Always thought organizing games for large groups of people in the office would be a tough nut to crack? No more. We have some virtual game ideas that are specifically meant to be played for groups of more than 10 people, and they are quite engaging at the same time too.
These games can vary in nature, such as virtual trivia, Monster Hunter, I-Spy, and many more. If you want something even more adventurous, you could look for online versions of paintball or laser tag games. The aim of these virtual games is to promote team building and swift decision-making skills, which can help remote employees sharpen their brains after a long (and dull) day at work.
6.14. Dress your pet
Do you have a pet who can steal the limelight? Do you miss the special bring your pet to work days? Fret not, because now you can show off the grandeur of your beloved pet(s) from the comfort of your home. Plus, you can even make them dress sharp and take the cuteness levels a notch higher.
Pets are amazing stress relievers and spending a little time can do wonders for your productivity. Dressing up your pet with amazing clothes and showing them to your fellow workers can be another great way to relax for everyone. After all, why should you restrict the positive energy of your furry friend to yourself when you can share it all around?
7. Bonus: Virtual Holiday Party Ideas
7.1. Virtual Halloween party ideas
- Pumpkin carving competition
Every household celebrating Halloween will have multiple Jack-o-Lanterns. Invite Jack over to your virtual meeting by inviting your employees to participate in your pumpkin carving contest. You can also ask them to send in pics of their carving and hold a public poll and the one with the most votes will be declared a winner.
- Halloween themed games
Best time to hold communication intensive games like murder mystery and Halloween trivia. This can be held along with the costume contest to make it even more exciting and festive – what can be more fun than a group of people dressed as zombies and vampires, competing in a game against other zombies and vampires!
- Virtual trick or treat
No one is too old for trick or treating. But doing it virtually can be a challenge. But it can be modified and played along with your team members. You can have one person ask another trick questions, if they get the answer wrong, they have to treat the other person, and if they get it right, they will get the treat from the questioner. To make it more fun, you can also switch it with a classic game of You Laugh You Lose. Winner gets the treat from the loser.
- Decorate your workspace
We always had decorate your workstation or bay contest while working from office. Since we did not want to break the tradition, we switched it to decorate your (home) workspace. Scariest décor takes the win.
7.2. Virtual New Year’s Eve party ideas
- Virtual dance party at midnight
What’s a party without some music and dance? Gather your employees couple of hours before midnight on Zoom or any other video conferencing platform, select your music from YouTube or even hire a virtual DJ, dance on till the dawn. People can also have their own BYOB – hey, its their house, their rules!
- Best of the year – Work theme
If you prefer a more subtle celebration with your colleagues, then go for an office themed celebration. Gather up everyone and give out awards or appreciations to the “Best X of the Year”. This can be kept quite informal & in festive spirit, and separate from the annual performance awards.
- Ball drop livestream
The New Year tradition of every New Yorker – watching the Times Square ball drop. Gather your team around midnight and continue this tradition virtually by watching a live stream of the Ball Drop. If you are located outside the NY time zone, then you can view this YouTube playlist of ball drops.
- Virtual Family Day
Many people prefer spending New Year with their families. Organize a small “Family Day” on New Year’s Eve, invite your employees’ families over video conferencing and hold family-inclusive activities and games. You can even go the extra mile and send in goodies in advance – like take the t-shirt sizes of family members and send in branded customized tees, and everyone can wear it during the celebration.
7.3. Virtual Diwali party ideas
- Rangoli competition
Rangolis are integral part of all festivals, and even a daily ritual in many homes. Boost your colleagues to turn the floor of their houses to colours by organizing a rangoli doodle competition. They can share the pictures of the rangoli and a selected judge can choose winners.
- Paint your diya
Insistence of green Diwali has brought back the traditional methods of celebrating the festival in many places – by lighting diyas. Encourage your colleagues to support the local potters by buying a plain diya from them, paint it and then send in pictures.
- Ethnic wear
What is more traditional about Diwali than dressing up in new traditional clothes. Hold a video conference with your team mates dressed up in ethnic wear representing their culture. You can also add in activities like a mini fashion show, some can speak about how they are celebrating Diwali, etc.
- Donate to a charity
Diwali is all about spreading joy and sharing happiness. Organize a fundraiser and invite your employees to donate to a cause and light up someone else’s lives
Read more: would love to have with their team mates. Send them drinks in advance, or give them the allowance to purchase one on their own, sip together over the virtual party.
7.4. Virtual Christmas party ideas
- Gifts galore
Christmas is synonymous with gifting. Send your employees X’mas gift boxes to their homes and include them in the festivities. It can be customized branded items, Christmas goodie bag that includes, candies, ginger bread cookies, hot chocolate mix, etc.
- Virtual secret Santa
Gift receiving is as rewarding as gift giving. You can have your team mates pick a random number that corresponds to a name on your sheet/document, have the secret Santa send presents, and open them all together over a virtual meeting. These gifts can be physical or virtual like gift cards or subscriptions.
Carol contests always remind me of Brooklyn 99’s Captain Latvia episode. You can be either the PD or MTA, sing a traditional carol or mix it up and make your own lyrics. If you plan to do this as a team event, make sure you inform the employees well in advance so they have time to prepare.
A holiday-themed happy hour is something everyone loves to celebrate. Try singing carols as accurately as you can as the night and the happy hour progresses steadily.
8.1. how to host a virtual party on zoom?
Host a virtual party on Zoom by
- Using the Zoom app or browser version and creating meeting links to share with the attendees.
- Set a theme to make the background more interactive.
- Test out the breakout rooms feature and send guests to individual chat rooms so that they can connect on topics in smaller groups.
- Use the whiteboard and screen sharing features when playing games like Pictionary.
- Take screenshots of the fun to make a collage of candid moments!
- Ask your attendees for post-meeting feedback for their experience at the party!
8.2. What counts as virtual holiday party food?
A mix of sweet and savory options that are filling and popular count as party food. You can always fall back on a large order of burgers or slices of pizza, accompanied by shakes, fries, cupcakes, and popcorn. And water! Always make sure there are sufficient drinks to go around.
8.3. What is the virtual holiday party agenda when everyone is remote?
The M.O of any virtual holiday party is that everyone is able to experience hilarity and entertainment no matter where they are physical. It is important to keep it inclusive and regular so that everyone has a break from the monotony of routine. It’s a good reason to stay in touch with people you rarely get to interact with when work doesn’t intersect. The more involved remote workers feel, the better engaged they are at work. After all, happy people are productive employees and lead more fulfilling lives!