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Part of the fun of the end of the year is the annual office holiday party. When else can you dress up, let loose, and get festive with your coworkers?

As the world approaches its first holiday season of this pandemic, and many employees are still working from home, you might be wondering how to host a virtual Christmas party that your team will be excited to attend.

Thankfully, you can throw an enjoyable virtual Christmas party. Just like everything else we’ve had to adapt to in 2020, all it takes is Zoom and a little creativity.

First, What Makes a Good Party?

The elements of a good in-person party will largely be the same for an online one. So these are the elements we’ll be discussing below:

Short on time? Watch our video on how to host a virtual Christmas party instead.

Ideas for Making Your Virtual Christmas Party Fun for Everyone

Invitations

 

 

Paperless Post also allows guests to RSVP, so you know exactly who has confirmed their attendance.

 

Food and Drink

Maybe I’m biased (I often attend parties because I look forward to the food!), but eating and drinking is the best part of any party. Just because your Christmas party is virtual doesn’t mean you get to skimp on this one.

 

If your team is remote and distributed, this element will be tricky, but it’s not impossible. Here are some ideas for catering your virtual Christmas party:

 

People

When it comes to parties, the company counts. Normally, you’d be selective about the people you invite because you want to make sure everyone meshes well. But if you’re throwing an office party, you’ll probably invite everyone (it’d be rude not to!). 

 

The biggest thing here is to make attendance at your virtual Christmas party optional. After a year filled with economic instability, financial hardship, illness, and countless Zoom calls, not everyone is going to feel up to a virtual party.

 

Also, decide if you want to allow people to bring a plus-one. In-person parties typically allow this, and it can make your teammates feel more comfortable if they can bring, say, their spouse to the party. For online parties, it might be kind of awkward, depending on if you’ll be doing activities in which the plus-ones can be involved. Use your best judgment here. Or, better yet, survey your team!

 

Lastly, consider making it paid. Some companies choose to pay their employees for the time they spend at office parties (even ones that are online). And in some cases, it might be required by law. Be sure to check your local laws and consult with your legal team if you have one.

Conversations

Intellectually stimulating or entertaining conversations are the lifeblood of an engaging party. Having conversations on a group video call, however, can quickly devolve into chaos.

 

To prevent this, consider using Zoom breakout rooms, which allow you to assign participants to their own sessions or let them choose which sessions they want to be a part of. It’s kind of like when people form a small circle in one part of the party for their own little chats. It makes conversation during your virtual Christmas party much more manageable, as you won’t have 50 people talking over each other.

Movement

At an in-person party, movement is guaranteed. People walk around, from the hors d’oeuvres table to the bar, or they head to the bathroom, or they at least stand around talking to people. With an online party, however, movement won’t happen unless you make it happen.

 

Sitting before a computer for the entire get-together will be boring. Here are some ways you can incorporate movement into your virtual Christmas party:

 

Atmosphere

Every good party has a festive ambience that gets people in the right frame of mind for celebration. Consider all five senses: taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell. Yes, it’ll be a challenge to create atmosphere online, but here are some ways you can do it:

 

Music

The right playlist can put everyone at ease and in a celebratory mood. Go easy on the music, though, because too many sounds on a video call are never good. (In fact, that’s why we recommend all attendees install the noise-canceling app Krisp beforehand.)

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    If you want to add music to your virtual Christmas party, then it’s best to do so when people are not having conversations. For example, you can play music as you wait for everyone to arrive or during breaks.

     

    Here are some ideas for playing music during your Zoom party:

    Games and Activities

    Now, for the fun part! While people will likely want to chat, you shouldn’t spend all of the party having off-the-cuff conversations. Plan some games and activities to keep people engaged, such as:

    Need more ideas? Check out additional 9 virtual celebration ideas for remote teams

    Step-by-Step Instructions for Using Zoom to Host Your Virtual Christmas Party

    Step 1: Pick a date and time that works best for most people.

    To do this, you can use a spreadsheet or the free tool Doodle.

    Step 2: Send invitations.

    Once you’ve decided which time and date works best for most of your team, send out the invitations either virtually or via mail.

    Step 3: Add a physical element to your virtual party.

    Decide which physical elements you want to incorporate into your party. Do this as soon as possible because you’ll need to figure out addresses and mail items to each attendee on time.

    Step 4: Send everyone a guide for using Zoom and other accompanying apps before the party.

    Unlike in-person parties, virtual ones have a bit of a learning curve and are prone to technical difficulties. To minimize these as much as possible, send out instructions and etiquette for Zoom and any other apps you’ll be using or activities you’ll be doing. 

    For example, if you want everyone to decorate the wall behind them or light a candle for the Zoom meeting, be sure to let them know ahead of time.

    Step 5: Do a test run.

    You want your party to be fun, not frustrating. To make sure everything works the way you intend, do a test run with a coworker beforehand.

    Step 6: Start the party with some music and light conversation.

    For your virtual Christmas party, I highly recommend enabling the “waiting room” feature on Zoom. This makes it so that you don’t have to awkwardly sit there with a coworker you barely know for 10 minutes while you wait for everyone to arrive.

    Once enough people arrive (or at least someone you’re close to), go ahead and admit all guests. You can play some music and chat as you wait for the others.

    Step 7: Play games.

    Once everyone has gotten their food and drink, made some small talk, and gotten settled in, it’s time for some fun! Start hosting whatever games you decided on.

    When all the guests are comfortable and having fun, be sure to pause for a group photo and take a screenshot of the Zoom meeting.

    Step 8: Take breaks.

    Refer to your schedule for the party so you know when to announce breaks for attendees to head to the bathroom or refill their drinks.

    Step 9: Announce closing time, but let others linger if you’re up for it.

    Virtual meetings can feel more draining than in-person ones. Plus, everyone’s joining from home. To be considerate of your guests, be sure to announce when it’s closing time. Allow people to say their goodbyes and log off.

    If you’re feeling up for it, you can say something like, “I’m gonna stick around for 30 more minutes to chat with people. If anyone would like to stay on for another half an hour, please do!”

    Step 10: Send a follow-up thank-you and group photo.

    To wrap up your party with a pretty bow, be sure to send thank-yous to everyone who attended. It’s also a nice touch to send a “group photo” (a screenshot of the Zoom party) to everyone for a keepsake.

    Make Your Virtual Christmas Party One Your Team Will Cherish

    After a year like 2020, we’re all in need of some holiday cheer. With these tips and ideas, your virtual Christmas party will create memories that will boost your team’s morale as we head into the new year.


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