How to Take Your Office Christmas Party Online
Ugly sweaters, awkward gift exchanges, Josh from Accounting having one drink too many… office holiday parties can generate enough water cooler gossip to get you through the spring. But with many businesses switching to remote or hybrid work, will company parties be the next victim of the coronavirus pandemic?
Sadly for your office’s Chatty Kathy, the answer is probably yes. Although some companies may host a traditional holiday party this year for the first time since 2019, many others may continue to forgo them. Even businesses that require employees to physically go to work may implement cost-cutting measures that include giving up expensive in-person shindigs.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun this holiday season! Like team meetings, job interviews, and worldwide summits, parties have gone digital. You may have already attended virtual happy hours (some fun, some… not so much,) but virtual holiday parties require some extra steps to be successful.
Please note: this post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. I only recommend products that I use myself and truly recommend. Please read my disclaimer for full info.
Here are our tips for hosting a successful Virtual Holiday Party.
Dress for Success
Your party’s dress code will set the tone for the event. Looking to have some relaxed fun with a close-knit group of coworkers? You can’t go wrong with an ugly sweater contest! Everyone is sure to get a good laugh when you compete to win the Silliest Sweater trophy.
Take the relaxation a step further with a pajama-themed party. If your office is normally casual, you can probably get away with this Christmas morning-inspired theme. Cue up a yule log as your Zoom background, make some hot chocolate, and have some extra cozy fun.
Want to replicate the spirit of your in-person Christmas party? Encourage everyone to dress in cocktail attire. Let’s face it. Most of us have gotten used to living in sweats. I rarely wear makeup anymore. I could use an excuse to dress up again. (For one night. I’m perfectly happy with my new athleisure dress code for work, thank you very much!) Even if you can only see each other from the waist up, a fancy dress code can do a lot to distinguish the party from your weekly team check-ins.
Of course, you can also encourage your coworkers to break out their well-worn Santa hats or reindeer antlers to add to the festivities. Or ask everyone to decorate a plain white t-shirt with their hopes for 2023. Get creative and make your clothes part of the celebration!
You Can Still Hold Your White Elephant or Secret Santa
Is gift-giving a traditional part of your office holiday party? You don’t have to forego your annual White Elephant or Secret Santa this year just because your party has gone virtual. Our Virtual White Elephant game allows you to enjoy all the fun of your White Elephant (or Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa) gift exchange via video call.
All you need is Powerpoint or a Google login for Google Slides, a video conferencing tool, and your co-workers’ cooperation for your gift exchange to continue as planned. Yes, you will have to do a little work as the host to compile everyone’s gifts in the game, but it’ll be worth it to keep your holiday tradition.
Gift exchanges can be a ton of fun, even if you get the best present stolen from you right at the end. (I’m looking at you, Susan. I haven’t forgotten that you stole the awesome cold brew maker from me last year.) They add extra entertainment and can help you avoid the awkwardness of figuring out what to get every member of your team.
For an even easier gift exchange (or if you want to use a template that isn’t so Christmas-y for a mixed group of participants,) try our new Virtual Gift Exchange. It comes in two versions for parties of different sizes—one with 15 gift icons and one with 40 icons. Simply remove the extra icons if you have fewer than 15 or 40 attendees.
Individual Coworker Gifts
If you still want to buy gifts for individual members of your team, keep it simple. You probably don’t have everyone’s address, so consider sending a gift card. Or give coworker coupons. You won’t have to pay much, but you might get stuck answering emails for a week. Talk about a priceless gift!
Stuck on gift ideas? Check out our full coworker gift guide.
Plan a Fun Group Activity
No party is complete without entertainment. You might not be able to enjoy a live band at this year’s holiday party, but we have some great ideas for virtual group activities if you have a little budget to spend on each employee.
Have a curated Cocktail Class
If you’re keeping it classy and dressing up in cocktail attire, you might as well go all out with some fancy cocktails to fit the theme. Cocktail Courier will send kits to each member of your team with all the ingredients and directions to make great holiday drinks. Designate one person to be your mixology master and lead the party in making their chosen cocktail. Have associates who don’t drink? Don’t worry, they have non-alcoholic kits available, too.
Want to try Cocktail Courier yourself before getting them for your party? Use our link for $15 off your order.
If your company frowns on alcohol at work-sponsored events, substitute cocktails with a non-alcoholic alternative. Curious Elixirs makes fantastic mocktails that contain adaptogens to help you unwind without booze. What are adaptogens? They’re natural herbs and plants that help your body adapt to stressors. Adaptogens you’re probably familiar with include ginseng, licorice root, and turmeric. So this holiday season, avoid getting on HR’s bad side by ordering some healthy mocktails for your virtual holiday party.
Make S’mores Around the Yule Log
Looking for something that’s a little more hands-off? Outsource your entertainment to Tiny Campfire. They’ll facilitate a virtual campfire team-building activity, complete with real s’mores. Pretend the campfire is really a Yule Log, and you’ll be all set. This is a great option if you’re hosting your party during the workday and want your party to be both fun and productive.
Hold a Gingerbread Decorating Contest
A great option if you’re going all-in on the Christmas theme with ugly sweaters and Santa hats, holding a gingerbread decorating contest is a fun way to ignite everyone’s creative and competitive sides.
If your team loves baking, set everyone up with a shopping list and recipe to make their own gingerbread a few days before the party. If they’re more likely to order-in lunch every day, send them a pre-made gingerbread kit ahead of the party. Set aside time for decorating, and then give prizes for the most creative, ugliest, and most festive cookies.
Play Party Games
If you want to keep it simple, you can always play classic party games. After such a tough year, who doesn’t want to let off a little steam by putting the boss in the hot seat? See who knows the boss best by playing games like “Over or Under” or “This or That.” Get a good laugh when Emily guesses that the boss drinks six cups of coffee a day. (Don’t worry. She swears it’s only three!)
Of course, you can always keep it simple with conversation cards. Take turns asking questions about your favorite holiday traditions or have fun with “Would You Rather” cards. Need some inspiration? Here’s how to use conversation cards in any situation.
You can also play our digital conversation starter game! Instead of sending cards to each guest, you can simply pull the PowerPoint or Google Slides game up on your video call and ask dozens of Christmas-related questions. Ask a few questions throughout the party, or turn it into a full game and use a randomizer to go through all the questions. Someone refuses to answer a question? Make them sing a Christmas Carol!
Classic party games also make a great addition to any holiday party. Our Christmas party bundle is easy to use during your virtual holiday party—simply share the pdf on your Zoom call, or send the files to your guests to download themselves. These fun games make the time fly by, and can help add variety to your party when the conversation starts to get stale. Play all of them or choose just a couple games and send the rest as party favors.
Set the Mood
Finally, every party needs a soundtrack! Ask every attendee to send you their favorite holiday songs a week ahead of time and put together a playlist to run in the background. No holiday party is complete without Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” or Adam Sandler’s “The Hanukkah Song” playing at least three times each. The best part of a virtual party? You can turn off the most annoying songs without having to bother a DJ!
Virtual Holiday Parties Can Be Fun
Your virtual holiday party doesn’t have to be just another event held via Zoom. With some pre-planning, creativity, and enthusiasm, it can be just as fun as your annual Christmas party at an event hall. And the best part? If you drink too much, you just have to make it to the next room to get to your bed!
Do you plan on hosting or attending a virtual holiday party this year?
Such great ideas! I love the idea of celebrating the holiday spirit even in a virtual setting. I’d probably opt for the pajama dress code with antlers! Thanks for a fun read.
If you can get away with wearing pajamas to a work party, why WOULDN’T you choose that? 😂 I’m all about being as comfy as possible at all times!
I love this post 😜 never thought about throwing a virtual party and not I’ve been invited to one!
Thanks for the idea 😄
Virtual parties can be a lot of fun. Maybe you’ll get to attend one this holiday season!
This is great! We’ve been sad that our party is canceled this year, these are some fantastic ideas. I will show this to my boss. 🙂
Hopefully you can have a fun virtual party instead!
I love when people are trying to make the best out of this pandemic and to give it a positive, humorous twist! 🙂 After reading this post, I wished I had some fun colleagues to have virtual office parties with 😉 Unfortunately, I’m working for myself and can’t share in this fun. Will consider to do this with friends, though! X
I’m lucky to have great coworkers who are always up for trying new things. I think you can definitely follow most of these tips for having a virtual holiday party with your friends, though!
I love this post!! Such a fun creative idea! I live far away from family and coworkers so I’m totally suggesting these ideas for the holidays. Thank you for the ideas 🙂
I’m so glad you found it useful! Let me know if you end up having a virtual holiday party 🙂
We might have to conduct a few parties online this coming December so thanks for all these tips!
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy your parties 🙂
I honestly have not been thinking too much about Christmas outside of our home but these tips are so great to add some fun into the holiday season. Great ideas, thank you so much for the inspiration!
I feel like the holidays are coming up really quickly this year, so I wanted to plan ahead. I hope these tips are helpful!