Ho, ho, ho! You found our list of festive virtual holiday party ideas.
Virtual holiday parties are online events meant to celebrate the holidays and the passing of the year. These parties usually include holiday games, activities and museum. For example, virtual Holiday scavenger hunts, and Christmas Bingo.
These virtual parties are generally held in the latter half of December and take place over video conference platforms like Zoom, Webex, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. These events are often virtual Christmas parties or “Zoom holiday parties”, and can include other holidays as well. For example, virtual Thanksgiving or virtual Halloween.
This article includes:
- virtual holiday party activities
- virtual holiday party games
- tips for online holiday parties
- virtual holiday gifts
- Zoom holiday party ideas
So, let’s get merry.
Why Hold a Virtual Holiday Party
While having an in-person office holiday party has its perks, partying online has definite advantages as well. Not only will everyone safely drink at home, but you also open up the possibility of including your employees’ family and pets without overwhelming the office.
Additionally, some reasons why you may consider holding a virtual holiday party this year:
- Your team is dispersed across multiple locations
- Your team works completely remote
- Your company is international in scope
- Your company does not have a physical headquarters
However, holding a large-scale virtual holiday party may seem like a daunting task due to the amount of planning needed and possible technical difficulties.
If these concerns are giving you pause, then read on for our complete guide on virtual holiday parties. You will discover how celebrating Christmas online can not only be a great alternative to in-person parties, but also level up your festivities in unexpected ways.
Virtual Holiday Party Ideas
Want to ensure that your team has fun this holiday season? Here are some ideas to help elevate your virtual holiday party and take it to the next level.
1. Set an “end of the year” theme
Yes, this post is about virtual Christmas parties. However, if you have an international team, then you may want to consider whether it would be better to set an “end of the year” or general holidays theme for your party.
By expanding the theme beyond Christmas, you can accommodate employees with different religious and cultural backgrounds, for whom Christmas may not be a primary holiday. By setting the theme as “end of the year” or holidays, you can use your party as an opportunity to celebrate your team’s victories over the past year or international holiday traditions.
2. Organize parties according to region
One of the trickiest parts of organizing a huge virtual party is taking into account everyone’s time zones. Depending on how widespread your team is, having an all-hands holiday party may not be feasible.
Instead, organize different parties by region, and delegate planning duties to people in each locality. Not only does this approach take some pressure off of you, but it also ensures that everyone gets to make merry and drink at a time that makes sense for them, if that is something they want to do.
Pro-tip: Consider livestreaming the festivities for every region, so other team members can drop in when it is convenient. This practice keeps the regional parties from seeming closed off to other members of the organization.
3. Designate a holiday dress code
One easy way to get your team in the holiday spirit is to explicitly mention that everyone is expected to show up in some kind of festive outfit, even if people celebrate from home. When designating a holiday dress code, do not try to restrict what people are wearing. Instead, encourage your team to express themselves and have fun with their ensemble.
Some examples of holiday dress codes are:
- Christmas semi-formal: For the fancy holiday parties, where you can break out a classy evening dress and smart suit and pair it with a Santa hat or cute reindeer ears.
- Ugly sweater casual: More laidback, you can pair your ugliest, Christmas-themed sweater with jeans or other informal bottoms. Don’t be afraid to ham it up by pinning Christmas ornaments or candy canes to your outfit.
4. Present a holiday customs show and tell
To help promote inclusivity during the holiday season, you can also consider adding a seasonal show and tell. Even if everyone on your team is from the same country, every family celebrates holidays differently. Thus, this holiday customs show and tell is a great way to get your team to open up and reveal more about themselves.
5. Create a company holiday recipe book
Similar in spirit to the previous idea, you can also promote inclusivity by collecting holiday recipes from your team members prior to the party and releasing them as a company holiday recipe book. Through this practice, your employees will gain new recipes to try, while also learning about how their colleagues celebrate the holidays.
Pro-tip: For an environmentally-friendly option, consider sharing a digital version of the recipe book, instead of going through the trouble of printing and sending the recipe book to everyone. Create a beautiful recipe book online using Canva, Google Slides, or Keynote.
6. Compile a holiday playlist
To keep the party lively, you should have a holiday playlist on hand to play in the background of festivities. However, when compiling this playlist, consider asking for recommendations from your team. That way, the holiday playlist incorporates everyone’s favorites. Your team may even introduce you to new songs in the process.
7. Put together a holiday card address book
For teams that appreciate the old-school tradition of receiving holiday cards in the mail, you can also consider putting together a holiday card address book.
Here are the steps to create this holiday card directory:
- Send a Google form to gauge interest in the holiday card program and collect addresses a few weeks before the holiday season
- Record the names and addresses of participating employees in a document
- Distribute the address book to participants
When assembling this holiday card address book, remind your employees to not circulate the document to people outside the holiday card program, since not everyone may be comfortable with sharing their address publicly.
8. Reimburse colleagues for holiday drinks and snacks
When holding an in-person holiday party, it is easy for the company to assume most of the expenses, which encourages coworkers to attend without financial pressure. However, when the party is held entirely at home, your team may have misgivings about spending their own money on a company event.
To offset employee expenses and boost attendance, consider reimbursing colleagues for holiday drinks and snacks. While you should set clear limits on the amount of money to reimburse, this policy should demonstrate to your team that the virtual holiday party is not meant to be a financial burden, and that your priority is to celebrate with your employees.
9. Ship holiday swag bags
Another way to bring holiday cheer to your employees is to gift company swag. Customize these holiday swag bags by writing holiday notes to each employee or by slipping in some candy canes or Christmas ornaments to keep the boxes on theme.
These holiday swag bags are an excellent idea to get your team excited about your virtual Christmas Party because employees enjoy receiving free stuff, especially with the company’s logo on it. Additionally, the swag bags may double as a great way for the company to get rid of excess inventory at the end of the year.
10. Relive milestones with an year-end retrospective
If you have any video wizards or filmmakers in your team, then consider asking them to put together a retrospective video that you can show at the virtual holiday party. This video can be a heartwarming way for your team to relive important milestones from the past year.
To get the footage and images needed for a retrospective video, crowdsource resources from your colleagues. Then, the video producer on your team can edit together your coworkers’ submissions into a stirring tribute to your company’s accomplishments.
If you do not have a video producer on your team, then you can hire a video editing service, like Viddedit, or look into smart video editors, like Magisto or Animoto, that automatically stitches together footage into beautiful video content.
Virtual Holiday Party Games
At a loss of how to engage your employees over video conferencing? These virtual Christmas party games will fire up your team and get them in the festive spirit.
11. Virtual Secret Santa
Gift exchanges are a major part of any office Christmas party. However, when you work on a remote team, putting together a Virtual Secret Santa requires prior planning. Thankfully, with modern technology, taking Secret Santa online is a great way to bring your dispersed team closer together.
To help you set up a game, use Secret Santa organizer or Elfster to match up your team members. These tools also let participants create wish lists, so gifters know what to give each other. Once you receive the person whom you will exchange gifts with, you can order and send your present online, making the entire process virtual.
12. Christmas Gif Contest
Creating gifs to use in Slack is a great way to inject a bit of fun into work communications. Ring in the holidays with a Christmas Gif Contest, where you challenge your team to create the most entertaining gif.
Here are the steps to hold this contest:
- Create a Slack channel for participants to submit gifs
- Set a period of time where your employees can submit their entries
- Ask your team to vote for their favorites using Slack reaction emojis
- Tabulate which gifs are the most popular
- Release a list of the season’s top five Christmas gifs
Holding a Christmas Gif Contest makes celebrating Christmas by a remote workforce more lively since everyone can easily participate, even if they work on a dispersed team. Your team may even learn a few Photoshop tricks along the way.
13. Holiday Chubby Bunny Tournament
You have probably heard of the Chubby Bunny game. In case you have not, the objective of this game is stuff as many marshmallows as possible into your mouth.
Here are the steps to hold a virtual Holiday Chubby Bunny Tournament:
- Mail holiday marshmallows to your team prior to the game
- Set up paired matches using a random bracket generator
- Meet over video conferencing and play!
Chubby Bunny is a wonderful game to play during your Virtual holiday Party because it is a simple game that does not require specialized skills. Not to mention, the game is not only amusing for the actual players, but also entertaining for team members who are not actively playing, as they watch their coworkers’ cheeks billow into rabbit-like cheeks.
14. Christmas Icebreakers
If you work with a relatively new team, then kick off the festivities with Christmas Icebreakers. Icebreakers are suited for new teams because the questions start conversations by prompting everyone to share about themselves.
Here is a short list of holiday icebreakers to get started with:
- Which of Santa’s reindeer is your favorite?
- At what age did you stop believing in Santa?
- Have you ever told someone Santa isn’t real?
- Would you be on the naughty or nice list this year?
- What is your favorite holiday tradition?
- What is your earliest holiday memory?
Here is a longer list of icebreaker questions that you can use too. The aim of these questions should be to get your team talking about what holiday customs they practice with their families. Not only will you learn more about your coworkers, but adding a Christmas spin helps keep your party lighthearted and fun.
15. Holiday D&D One-shot
For fans of Dungeons and Dragons or D&D, Holiday D&D One-shots let employees go on a holiday-themed roleplay adventure in a much shorter period of time. To play, designate a game master, who will be in charge of helping team members create characters and guiding players into co-creating an interesting story.
To keep the game in theme, tailor the one-shot’s story, objectives, and characters for the holidays. Role playing games, like D&D, are perfect for team building because they encourage employees to exercise their imaginations and creativity. If you are nervous about becoming a D&D game master, check out these pointers for preparing a one-shot.
16. Christmas Movie Trivia
If your team is looking for a game that is more competitive, then go for Christmas Movie Trivia. Organized like Virtual Happy Hour Trivia, Christmas Movie Trivia simply replaces the questions with ones that test players’ knowledge of films with Christmas themes. This virtual party game is suitable for teams that are familiar with popular Christmas movies.
17. Virtual Dance Off: Christmas Edition
A Virtual Dance Off is a dance competition where your team shows off their best moves to Christmas music. This fun spin on a dance off is a great way to get your team out of their seats and moving. To determine the winner, your team members vote on whose moves were the most inventive after everyone has displayed their Christmas dances. For a more easy way to collect votes, ask your team to use the poll feature on your video call platform to vote.
18. Ugly Sweater Contest
One of the most amusing traditions associated with Christmas is the gifting of ugly sweaters, such as with Mrs. Weasley to Harry Potter and her children. Thus, to riff on this custom, ask your team to show up to the virtual Christmas party dressed in their ugliest sweater. Then, your team votes on which ugly sweater is their favorite to ascertain the winner.
19. Company Christmas Carol Challenge
For teams brimming with creativity, a Company Christmas Carol Challenge may be a great virtual Christmas party game. In this game, your team rewrites the lyrics to popular Christmas carols to center the song around the company.
Here are the steps to play:
- Break your team up into smaller groups
- Assign Christmas carols using a Christmas song generator
- Give the groups 30 minutes to come up with new lyrics and practice singing
- Perform the new Christmas carols
- Vote on which revised carol is your favorite
- Determine which carol is the winner
This Christmas game is entertaining because it results in a performance of silly versions of Christmas carols. Additionally, your team is sure to fill these carols with inside jokes about your company, which will help strengthen your team’s bonds.
20. Holiday Photo Competition
For the photography enthusiasts on your team, Holiday Photo Competition asks employees to present the best photo that captures the holidays. Colleagues must be the ones who take the photos, and submit them to a dedicated Slack channel. Your employees can vote on their favorite photos using Slack reaction emojis. The photo with the most reactions wins.
Virtual Gifts for Employees
Looking for ways to show appreciation towards your team? Here are some virtual gifts you can send your employees to reward them for another good year.
Tinggly lets people give the gift of awesome experiences. Instead of buying a physical present, you can send a colleague a Tinggly gift box, which lets your team member redeem an experience of their choice out of a curated collection.
Tinggly is a great virtual gift for employees because employees can claim the experiences in more than 100 countries, and Tinggly can send redeemable e-vouchers, if you do not want to pay shipping. Not to mention, Tinggly is an eco-friendly company since they use recycled materials for packaging and a portion of Tinggly’s profits goes to support sustainable projects.
Check out Tinggly’s gift boxes.
22. Gift cards
Not sure what exactly to buy your employees? Send your team virtual gift cards that can be used when shopping online. By giving your team gift cards, your coworkers can choose their own rewards, and you may even help your colleagues finally purchase something that they have been saving up for.
Some great gift card ideas include:
- Amazon gift card
- Apple gift card
- Starbucks gift card
- Target gift card
- Best Buy gift card
- Chipotle gift card
Other gift cards are great too!
23. End of the year bonuses
To open up your employees’ choices even more, you can also give everyone end of the year bonuses to celebrate the passing of another year at the company. By directly wiring bonuses to their accounts, your team can choose what to spend the extra money on. Also, with end of year bonuses, your coworkers will feel that you are recognizing their efforts at work.
24. Food delivery
If you have team members living in the same city that you would like to give a gift to, then consider sending a special treat through food delivery. Once you track down your coworker’s address, you can send them a tasty dessert or even a whole meal. Make sure to notify your colleague beforehand, so they are at home when the food arrives.
VidHug is an easy way to send a video compilation message to your team. To create a VidHug, invite everyone using a recording link. The link lets your employees submit short videos of them conveying their message. Once you have collected all of your colleagues’ videos, VidHug edits the videos together into a heartwarming montage that you can share with your team.
VidHugs make great virtual gifts because they do not require sending any physical materials. Not to mention, since VidHugs are compilation videos, seeing the final product will be rewarding for all the participants, making it a great gift to mark your team’s end of the year.
Start a VidHug.
26. Charity donations
A great gift that can help make the world a better place is to donate to charity in the name of your employees. Giving to charity can be a great virtual gift because the company can make electronic monetary payments and the donations benefit large swaths of people, depending on what causes your company wishes to support.
Here is how you can gift a charitable donation:
- Pick a few charities for your organization to donate to
- Send out a survey asking your employee which charity they wish to contribute to
- Donate a set amount of money to the charities according to your team’s wishes
This virtual gift is best suited for nonprofits and companies that have a humanitarian intent. Not only will your company do some real good in the world, but the donations are a manifestation of your company’s culture and values.
Snappy is a platform that simplifies the employer to employee gifting process. When your team members have reached certain milestones, such as holidays or work anniversaries, you can notify colleagues that they can pick out a gift from those curated by Snappy.
Not only does this software take the guesswork out of gifting, but it is also an excellent way to give virtually because you can complete the whole process, from requesting gifts to sending them, online. Best of all, you can stay on budget because Snappy curates gifts according to the amount the company allocates.
Try gifting with Snappy.
How to host a Virtual Holiday Party
Holding a company-wide party online is a daunting task. Add the pressure of entertaining everyone and reproducing the holiday spirit, and the task is even more intimidating. However, with some guidance, you will learn that hosting a virtual holiday party is much easier when you know what to expect and plan ahead.
Here are the steps to pull off a successful virtual holiday party:
Step #1: Find a time and date that suits your team
First things first, decide on a time and date for your virtual holiday party. Earlier in this guide, we mentioned how incompatible time zones could complicate when you choose to hold the online event, which means you need to give this point some extra thought.
When deciding on the time to hold your party, consider:
- Is there a time period where everyone will be awake at the same time?
- Will your coworkers be able to celebrate together at the chosen time?
- Would it make more sense to hold separate virtual Christmas parties?
- Is drinking during the holiday party important to your team?
Keeping in mind the time of day the party would be taking place for each location will help you determine the best arrangement for your team. You can also consult with team members from other locations on what their most desired time is just to be safe.
Step #2: Send virtual holiday party invitations
After you have chosen a good time and date to hold your virtual Christmas party, get your team in the holiday spirit by sending out virtual invitations. Online invitations are a great environmentally friendly choice by helping save paper, and can be a fun way to remind your colleagues that the festivities are coming up soon.
Step #3: Plan out the events
Most Christmas parties will have multiple sections or activities incorporated into the event. Prior to the party, plan out a general sequence of how everything will unfold. Consider the most logical order for the activities, and what to prepare for each segment.
While online events always run the risk of not going exactly as planned, having a general guide on how the party should proceed will help make sure that the event runs more smoothly and does not come to a complete halt when things get off track.
Step #4: Prepare materials
Once you know what activities will occur at your virtual holiday party, compile a shopping list for preparing the materials for all the games you will play. If your coworkers need to provide anything themselves, such as gifts for a gift exchange, send your employees a gentle reminder a week before the party with what materials they need so everyone has time to go shopping.
Step #5: Go online and have fun!
A few minutes before the virtual holiday party is due to start, set up your computer and enter the video conference room. Check your camera and mic settings to preemptively solve any technical problems that may arise. Then, when you are ready, admit the rest of your team to the virtual meeting room and let the festivities begin!
Thanks for reading!
If you liked the ideas in list, then make sure to bookmark it. We will be adding more ideas next year!
Happy holidays! 🎄🎅
Virtual Holiday Party FAQ
Still curious about remote parties? Here are some commonly asked questions about virtual holiday parties.
What is a remote holiday party?
A remote holiday party is an online festivity that takes place near the end of the year that observes a collection of holidays across the American, Christian, Jewish, African-American, and pagan traditions. Meant as a more inclusive version of an office Christmas party, these remote holiday parties bring employees together to celebrate what they have accomplished that year.
How to throw a remote party?
Celebrating with your remote coworkers does not have to be a complicated endeavor.
Here are the steps to throw a remote party:
- Find a date and time that suits your team
- Send virtual calendar invites with time, date, and video conferencing room information
- Create a plan for the sequence of events
- Prepare any necessary materials for your team
- Go online and have fun!
Holding a remote party may seem daunting, but with a little bit of planning, your party can go off without a hitch.
How to include remote employees in office parties?
When working on a dispersed team, it is likely that your colleagues work from all over the world and across different time zones. To ensure you properly include all of your virtual workforce, you should keep a few principles in mind.
Here are some tips for including remote employees in office parties:
- Consider everyone’s time zones and what time of day it is where they are
- Ensure that everyone has the necessary technology to participate
- Send invitations to every employee with the virtual meeting room information included
- Provide materials that employees may need that they cannot prepare themselves
- Reimburse employees on drinks and snacks
- Play games that accommodate large groups
- Encourage inclusivity through activities where employees share holiday customs
- Involve all employees in any end of year retrospectives
By planning your office party along these principles, your remote employees will feel included in the festivities no matter where they are in the world. Since virtual holiday parties are meant to celebrate the past year, it is important to follow these ideas, so every employee feels recognized, and no one feels sidelined or left out.
What are some virtual team celebration ideas?
Some virtual celebration ideas include:
- Set an “end of year” theme
- Organize parties according to region
- Designate a holiday dress code
- Present a holiday customs show and tell
- Create a company holiday recipe book
- Compile a holiday playlist
- Put together a holiday card address book
- Reimburse colleagues for holiday drinks and snacks
- Ship holiday swag bags
- Relive milestones with an year-end retrospective
These ideas should help your virtual celebration be more inclusive and accessible to everyone. Not only will all employees get a chance to contribute to making the festival a success, but they can learn more about each other at the same time.