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. Fun virtual holiday party ideas take inspiration from the holiday’s significance, such as New Year’s, Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, or Eid. Virtual holiday party ideas are a great way to recreate the ambience of in-office celebrations using video conference platforms for remote employees. .
Everyone deserves to party together, no matter where they are working from. So, here are a few exciting virtual holiday party ideas for your next gathering.
1. What Is A Virtual Holiday Party?
A virtual holiday party is an online celebration of a particular holiday or event of cultural and historical 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. You’ll do everything you would at an actual party, from taking part in holiday games for remote teams and team-building activities to laughing at a co-worker’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!
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 Ground Rules
As more guests join in, there are bound to be abrupt disconnections, echoes, dropouts, or lags. And the worst of these minor annoyances is people speaking over each other. Set rules about when to have your camera on or off and muting and unmuting. If everyone follows this, they’ll be able to enjoy the party experience truly. 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
Once you have zeroed down on one of the many free virtual holiday party ideas, you need an invite. 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 For Work
3.1 Virtual Holiday Party Ideas for Halloween
3.1.1 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.
3.1.2 Halloween-Themed Games
Best time to hold communication-intensive games like murder mysteries 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?
3.1.3 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 question, 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. The winner gets a treat from the loser.
3.1.4 Decorate your workspace
We always decorate your workstation or bay contest while working from the office. Since we did not want to break the tradition, we switched it to decorate your (home) workspace. The scariest décor takes the win.
Get more ideas for the perfect Halloween party in the office here.
3.2 Virtual Holiday Party Ideas For New Year’s Eve
3.2.1 Virtual Dance Party at Midnight
What’s a party without some music and dance? Gather your employee's couple of hours before midnight on Zoom or any other video conferencing platform, select your music from YouTube or even hire a virtual DJ, and dance on till dawn. People can also have their own BYOB – hey, it's their house, their rules!
3.2.2 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 appreciation to the “Best X of the Year”. This can be kept quite informal and in the festive spirit, and separate from the annual performance awards.
3.2.3 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.
3.2.4 Virtual Family Day
Many people prefer spending the 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 taking the t-shirt sizes of family members and sending in branded customized tees, and everyone can wear it during the celebration.
Here are some more virtual holiday ideas for remote employees to help you ring in New Year’s with your employees.
3.3 Virtual Holiday Party Ideas For Christmas
3.3.1 Gifts Galore
Christmas is synonymous with gifting. Send your employees Xmas gift boxes to their homes and include them in the festivities. It can be customized branded items, a Christmas goodie bag that includes candies, gingerbread cookies, hot chocolate mix, etc.
3.3.2 Virtual Secret Santa
Gift receiving is as rewarding as gift giving. You can have your teammates pick a random number that corresponds to a name on your sheet/document, have 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.
3.3.3 Carol Contests
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.
3.3.4 Happy hour
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.
For more ways to celebrate Christmas virtually, check our article on virtual Secret Santa ideas
3.4 Virtual Holiday Party Ideas For Diwali
3.4.1 Rangoli Competition
Rangolis are an integral part of all festivals and even a daily ritual in many homes. Boost your colleagues to turn the floor of their houses to colors by organizing a rangoli doodle competition. They can share the pictures of the rangoli and a selected judge can choose winners.
3.4.2 Paint your Diya
Insistence on 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.
3.4.3 Ethnic Wear
What is more traditional about Diwali than dressing up in new traditional clothes? Hold a video conference with your teammates 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.
3.4.4 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
Check out even more virtual holiday party ideas for remote teams Diwali, here
3.5 Virtual Holiday Party Ideas For Thanksgiving
3.5.1 Virtual Paint and Prosecco
This is one that you should for sure include in your list of virtual thanksgiving activities for your employees. The premise is simple, all you need to send is some supplies to your employee's homes, like a bottle of prosecco (or any other drink of choice), a small canvas, and some paints, and see the magic happen. Once everyone receives their packages, you can hop onto a video conferencing platform like Zoom or Teams and catch up while painting and enjoying a drink.
3.5.2 Virtual Thanksgiving Dinner
If you are looking for virtual holiday party ideas for remote teams, then this one is the best representation of Thanksgiving. This holiday is famous for its food, people love making a large spread and hosting friends as well, which has given rise to the concept of Friendsgiving. You can host a similar soiree for your employees. You don’t have to do a traditional meal, you can treat it more like an opportunity to sit together and chit-chat about the happenings taking place. This is a great bonding exercise for your employees. Add to this comfort food like take-out pizza, pasta, or sandwiches, and you have a winner.
3.5.3 Hand Turkeys
This is one activity that is bound to evoke a childlike sense of joy in your employee's hearts, and that is creating hand turkeys. The best part is all they need is a basic set of materials to carry out this activity. Things like paper, scissors, and some decorative materials like glitter and feathers are easily available and should not be difficult to source for your employees. Once everyone creates their hand turkeys, everyone can vote, and you can choose a winner.
3.5.4 Pie Cook Along
Pies are a quintessential part of thanksgiving. You can organize a Thanksgiving Pie cook along for your employees. All you need to do is send out the ingredient list for people to be ready when the time comes. The cook-along can take place on a video conferencing app. This will also let people who usually shy away from the kitchen - try out something new. You can either get a professional chef to help out or if someone from your organization enjoys cooking, they can take the lead as well.
For our complete list of Virtual Thanksgiving ideas, click here.
3.6 Virtual Holiday Party Ideas For Virtual St Patrick's Day
3.6.1 Virtual Drinking Hour
St Patrick's Day is synonymous with drinking, that's a fun fact. So, when you are looking at free virtual holiday party ideas, what you can do is combine the digital and offline world and organize a drinking hour for your employees. The hour will serve as a great way for your employees to enjoy themselves in a relaxed and open environment. As part of the experience, send out miniature bottles to your employees prior so that people can enjoy themselves on the day.
3.6.2 The Lucky Leprechaun Game
It is important to include leprechauns, the unofficial ambassador of St Patrick's Day, in your games, at least in spirit. Considering this game has nothing to do with leprechauns. Instead, what you have is a spin on the game called “never have I ever”. Participants recall fortuitous incidents of the past, like -'' I'm a lucky leprechaun because I got an extra pastry with my order.” Keep track of how many times people raise their hands and find who the luckiest leprechaun is amongst your staff.
3.6.3 Pub Trivia
The pub quiz is another mainstay in Ireland. You can replicate this experience with your employees through virtual trivia. Create questions from a variety of topics like history, geography and food. Try and ensure that you keep the questions Ireland-centric to play up the theme of St Patrick’s Day.
3.6.4 Online Irish Jig
Another amazing way to get your employee's spirits high is through the traditional Irish jig. There are two ways you can go about this particular activity. One is by learning through a YouTube tutorial, or you can sign up for a virtual class with a professional. This is a fun game, especially since it gets people moving and shaking.
3.6.5 Explore Ireland
Ireland is the land of St Patrick's day, and there is no time like this holiday to take a digital trip through Ireland. There are plenty of options available online, both free as well as paid. So, depending on your budget and the kind of experience you are aiming to provide, you can make a choice. When you are looking at virtual holiday party ideas, this is one that is offbeat and unique.
If you are looking for more St Patricks Day ideas, click here.
3.7 Virtual Holiday Party Ideas For Chinese New Year
3.7.1 Conduct An Origami Class
Origami as an art form has been around for hundreds of years. You can celebrate Chinese New Year by practising this art form. Get someone to conduct a class or look through a couple of tutorials online together. Once everyone understands how to go about it, you can even conduct a competition and vote for the best origami.
3.7.2 A Tea Party
Tea is an essential part of Chinese culture, legend has it that it was invented in China. So, you can honor them by hosting a virtual tea-tasting party. Send out packages in advance to your employees. You can even get an expert to hop on board and show the proper methods to prepare all the brews.
3.7.3 Online Mahjong Game
Mahjong is often (wrongly) attributed to being a pair-matching game. But the actual Mahjong is very different. It is more like card games like rummy. There are plenty of online sites that allow you to play this game, so you can learn and play on the go. Do keep in mind that only 4 people can play mahjong at one time, so you will have to divide up larger groups to be able to play this game.
3.7.4 Play a Chinese New Year Themed Quiz
An easier activity that you can do to celebrate Chinese New Year is an online word puzzle. There are plenty available for free online, or if you want, you can even create one of your own. Quizzes are a great way for your employees to flex their general knowledge and indulge in some healthy competition among themselves
For our complete list of virtual holiday ideas for remote employees to celebrate Chinese New Year, click here.
3.8 Virtual Holiday Party Ideas For US Independence Day
3.8.1 Hot Dog Eating Competition
Hot dog eating used to be a staple in offices, but now that most people work in a hybrid or virtual set-up, it isn’t as easy to do this. But you can move this online and enjoy this activity even now. Encourage your employees to try it out and carry the tradition forward. Additionally, to facilitate the competition, you can get the hot dogs delivered to your employee's homes.
3.8.2 Name 50 States
When looking through virtual holiday party ideas, this is a simple, fun one. You can ask your employees to state all the fifty states, and the one to do it the fastest wins. You will be surprised at how many people miss out on it. It will be hilarious, as most of you must have witnessed in the episode of Friends where Ross struggles to name them.
3.8.3 Uncle Sam Hat-Making Competition
You can ask your employees to make a replication of Uncle Sam’s Hat from scratch and then have a sort of fashion show on a video conferencing call. Take a picture of everyone in their quirky to get up, and you can even make it a competition and vote for the best iteration of the hat.
3.8.4 Patriotic Movie Binge
Is there anything better than watching one of America’s many classic movies? From Forrest Gump to Independence Day, you have plenty to pick from. To ensure an optimal viewing experience, you can use an extension like Teleparty to allow people to chat about the movie while ensuring people do not get disturbed.
For more virtual Independence Day Ideas, click here.
Q. 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 holiday games for remote teams like Pictionary.
- Take screenshots of the fun to make a collage of candid moments!
- Ask your attendees for post-meeting feedback on their experience at the party!
Q. 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.
Q. What are the best holiday party ideas for remote teams?
The best holiday party ideas for remote teams are - mystery games, holiday game shows, virtual escape rooms, gingerbread decorating contests, and virtual murder mystery parties.
Q. How do you make a virtual Christmas party fun?
There are multiple ways you can make a Christmas party fun. Start with some icebreaker games so that people do not feel awkward, and then move on to activities like a mixology class to ensure maximum participation from everyone.
Q. What are the best free virtual holiday games for work?
Some of the best free virtual holiday games for work are - Jingle Mingle Bingo, The Naughty List, Secret Santa, Never Have I Ever, and Gingerbread wars. These virtual holiday games for remote teams will guarantee a fun time bonding with your remote team.
Q. What are the best virtual holiday party ideas for large groups?
Holiday scavenger hunts, tiny tree trimming, festive fashion shows, wine & wreath making, long-distance cookie swaps, holiday paint 'n' sip, and jingle bell bingo are some of the best virtual holiday games for large groups.