Virtual Holiday Parties are end of year events for remote teams. These parties celebrate Christmas and other traditions, as well as recognize the work that was done throughout the year. The events usually include a mix of games and activities, such as online Secret Santa exchanges, virtual cocktail parties, and Christmas story reading. Online holiday parties take place on platforms like Zoom, Webex, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams.
So, here are the best ideas, games and activities for your virtual holiday party!
The 10 Best Virtual Holiday Party Ideas
#1: Virtual Gift Exchange
A hallmark of office holiday parties around the world is a gift exchange, and you can do this activity online as well. Most remote teams choose to do variations of classics like Virtual Secret Santa or White Elephant.
For Virtual Secret Santa you can poll which team members want to participate, get a short list of their interests, and then assign gift receivers to givers. At work, we recommend setting a budget, such as $25 or $50 per gift, and then making that amount a reimbursable expense for participants. The company should also cover shipping.
For an Online White Elephant, you can either have participants source the gifts, or purchase them all yourself. Either way, make sure you have some very quirky and unique gifts to choose from.
Elfster is one of the most popular Secret Santa generators.
#2: Virtual Christmas Scavenger Hunt
A great game to make virtual Christmas parties more fun in a scavenger hunt. You can do different types of hunts, including online-only, photo scavenger hunts, and searching for items at home.
Our favorite format for quick games is searching for items at home. Here is a list you can start with:
- The last gift you received
- Something that reminds you of the holidays
- Your favorite mug for hot cocoa
- Your ugliest sweater
- The Christmas decoration you’ve had the longest
- Socks that would make a unique stocking
- An item that could be a stocking stuffer
The goal of this list is to provide items both with flexibility and stories behind them. As participants race to find the items and return to the party, you can ask each one to share those stories. You might say, “where did you get that ugly sweater?” or “why does that item remind you of the holidays?” In this way, the activity also serves as a fun icebreaker and team bonding exercise.
#3: Holiday-themed Icebreaker Questions
Icebreaker questions are one of the best ways to start any online gathering. The activity takes less than one minute per person, and helps participants warm-up so they can enjoy the other games and activities.
Start by sharing the icebreaker, and then assign which people will share their answers next.
Here are some great holiday-themed icebreakers to start with:
- What is your favorite holiday food?
- Did your family have any unique Christmas traditions?
- What is your earliest memory of Christmas?
- Have you ever told someone Santa isn’t real?
- What is your dream destination to celebrate the holidays in?
- Do you prefer real or fake Christmas trees?
- Would you rather have an elf or a reindeer on your team?
And here is a longer list of virtual icebreaker questions.
#4: Christmas Caroling
One of the most well-known Christmas traditions in caroling, where people come to your door to sing Christmas songs and you make a donation. This activity is surprisingly fun and great for virtual holiday parties.
You can bring your entire team onto a Zoom call, choose a few songs, and then share a screen with the lyrics. Your team members can sing together in a beautiful harmony, or more likely a slightly embarrassing rendition of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.
A few favorite songs for your playlist:
- Jingle Bells
- Frosty the Snowman
- 12 Days of Christmas
You can turn the carol activity into more of a game by awarding prizes to teams or individuals. You might have an award for best singer, or most unusual remix.
#5: Gingerbread Decorating
Before your virtual holiday event, send each of your participants a gingerbread decorating set. You could do houses, but we recommend people since less assembly is required.
During the video call, invite participants to decorate their people. You can assign themes like “best dressed” to encourage fancy gingerbread people, “the job you wanted growing up”, or just do a free-for-all and what participants come up with.
Gingerbread decorating is a great activity for virtual holiday parties because everyone loves receiving packages in the mail. We recommend sending the packages via a reputable sender like Amazon, since there may be a risk of breakage with the cookies.
#6: Virtual Cocktails
With virtual team building, it is important to keep guests active and doing fun games throughout the event. With virtual holiday parties, you want to have fun, and also provide unstructured time for guests to connect with each other. You could set 30 minutes aside for a virtual cocktail party.
For this activity, you can teach participants how to make a drink, or invite them to bring their own. We recommend making sure you have non-alcoholic options available. Then, put guests in breakout rooms and give them time to chat. If you like, you can suggest conversation topics such as “what is your favorite holiday?” or “How did you learn the real story about Santa?”
#7: Holiday Movie Scenes
One way to encourage more open discussion at your virtual holiday party is to give people something familiar to talk about. We like the Holiday Movie Scenes activity where you can show short clips from popular Christmas movies, and then lead discussions on each one.
You might show a scene from the Grinch, and then discuss his motives. Or you could show a clip from Home Alone and analyze the efficacy of Kevin’s traps. There are a lot of holiday-themed movies and so you have many options.
#8: Never Have I Ever: Holidays
Never Have I Ever is a popular icebreaker game. Participants hold up five fingers, and then take turns naming life experiences. Any participant that has that life experience puts down a finger.
Here are some example holiday-themed life experiences:
- Worked as a mall-Santa
- Received coal as a gift
- Gave coal as a gift
- Eaten an entire gingerbread house
- Had two Christmas dinners in one day
You should have a list of at least five or ten ideas ready, in case players get stuck and need inspiration.
#9: Gratitude Ceremony
You can include a quick gratitude ceremony as part of your virtual holiday activities. For this activity, each participant takes turns sharing at least one thing they are grateful for. A participant might say they are grateful to be able to live near a walking trail, or they are grateful for their husband who is cooking a Turkey. The nice thing about gratitude is it is important no matter how small or big the idea.
#10: Decorate a Virtual Christmas Tree
Many people grew up decorating Christmas trees at the start of the holiday season. You can do a similar activity virtually by decorating a tree on a shared online white-board.
First, send your participants a link to the white-board. Then, either do a free-for-all decoration or give prompts like “add something personal” or “add an unusual food item.”
At the end of the game, you can award prizes for tree designs, like the most unique or the most holiday-spirit.
Virtual holiday parties are an excellent opportunity to bring together friends, families, coworkers, and everyone in-between. These events can include a range of fun holiday-themed games and activities that will help ensure everyone has a good time.
Next, see our list of virtual team building ideas.