Virtual Holiday Party Ideas for Work To Get Spirits High

Let’s face it. 2020 is a year we will be happy to say goodbye to. 

Whether at work or in social situations, this year has been unlike anything we have experienced before. 

From getting used to a whole new style of working to adapting to social distancing, to online education for children, and living our entire lives virtually, COVID-19 definitely put a spoke in the wheels of our lives, our work, our finances, our health, and honestly, our sanity. 

So, why not end the year with a bang?! 

A gif mimicking how our spirits can go from sad to happy during holiday season, especially in 2020

In-person end-of-the-year holiday parties are definitely something we will miss this year, but that doesn’t mean we have to skip out altogether. In fact, if there’s ever been a year where we’ve needed a party, it’s 2020. 

The alternative? A virtual holiday party. Here’s Toasty’s list of virtual holiday party ideas for work get-togethers and the perfect plan to help you put together a soiree that will be a far cry from yet another boring video call. 

But Isn’t Virtual Party Planning A Far Cry From Regular Party Planning?

Well, yes and no. Sure, you may have to tweak office Christmas traditions or introduce new activities you have never done before, but the goal remains the same. 

Get everyone together, let your hair down, and enjoy the holidays as a team. 

Keep one thing in mind, though. The pandemic has been tough on people, and team members may have been affected badly.

If someone isn’t interested in participating, give them the leeway to do so. It’s a year where we all need some empathy from each other. 

So, what should you definitely think about before throwing a virtual party? Here are some tips.

Think About the Reason

Why do you want to host a virtual holiday party? Do you want the team to bond better? Is this a way for employees to relax? Are you trying to bring in a semblance of normalcy by hosting an event you organize every year? Look for virtual holiday party ideas depending on what your goals for the event are.  

Put Your Employees (and their Families) First

Before you send out that invite with a date and time for the holiday party, think about whether the time you have decided on, after work hours, will actually be convenient for everyone. Since we are all at home, with significant others and children in the same environment, your employees may appreciate having a virtual party during office hours instead of being on yet another video meeting post work. 

Appoint a Facilitator

Think of all the virtual workshops you have attended this year. Now think of the ones you enjoyed the most. Chances are they had a facilitator to walk you through stuff. Think of your virtual party facilitator as an event organizer who keeps the wheels running. If you can’t assign someone that role, have an agenda to help you plan the party in minute detail. 

On Toasty, for example, not only can you create an agenda, but you can pre-plan event activities, craft them, and keep them ready. Thanks to our exhaustive list of pre-built templates for fun happy hour activities. 

Repurpose Your Holiday Budget

Any other year, and you would be looking at holiday decoration ideas for the office. But this year, that’s out the window. If you can, use that allocated budget to do something thoughtful for the team, like sending them a gift package with cookies, hot chocolate kits, gift cards, etc. Make them feel appreciated.  

Send out a Formal Invite

All year long, we have been inundated with meeting invites and call links. Why not make the invite for the virtual holiday party a little more formal and fun? Send an Evite with the date and time in advance. Use the invite the establish the ambiance of the event and get people excited. 

Example of an invite that can be sent for a virtual holiday party

Make it Fun

Sure, have the top boss give a toast or a thank you speech but don’t make this into a town hall. The holiday party is about letting loose. Break the ice with some fun icebreakers, play a game, have competitions. Get everyone to interact and have a blast.  

So, Which Virtual Holiday Party Ideas Will Be a Hit at the Workplace? 

Honestly, there are tons of ideas that you can pick from. My favorites, though, are the ones that repurpose holiday regulars and make them into virtual winners. Let’s take a look at a few. 

#1 Virtual Secret Santa 

Secret Santas are a holiday favorite at most workplaces. So, why let that tradition fizzle away just because everyone is meeting only virtually? Using a service like Elfster or Drawnames allows you to start your secret Santa online. Set a monetary limit and get everyone to send out their gifts to arrive (or get their gifts delivered) before the day of the party. End the virtual holiday party games with the Secret Santa reveal.

If the company can, give every employee a gift card for a fixed amount and ask them to use the same for their Secret Santa picks. It’s a sweet gesture that can go a long way, especially in a year when people may be feeling burdened financially.

#2 Online Holiday Bingo

Now, this is a game that’s become super popular over the past year, with virtual birthday bingos becoming quite the trend. Try a holiday version. Send everyone the bingo sheet at the start of the party if you want everyone to play individually. But what can be even more interesting is to divide people into breakout groups and share the bingo sheet for the group to play together. And see the chaos of the fun kind erupt. 

P.S. We made a template you can use for your own version of Holiday Bingo 

A template for a holiday bingo game, one of the many virtual holiday party ideas for work

#3 Virtual Awards Party

A fun gif talking about awards season being Moira Rose from Schitt's Creek's favourite season

Is your team super competitive? Diffuse the tension and celebrate the holiday season with an Awards night of your own. Come up with innovative categories that are sure to make people laugh. A few ideas? Most Likely To Schedule a Meeting, Most Likely to Have Audio Muted During Team Meetings, Most Likely to Style Your Home Office if Given a Chance. Give out the silliest of awards for the most ridiculous of reasons.

#4 Holiday Scavenger Hunt 

You don’t have to only stick to virtual holiday party ideas that have you glued to the screen. There’s been enough of that already. How about something that will get everyone moving? The perfect solution; a scavenger hunt, albeit holiday-themed. Give each employee or a group of employees a list of holiday-themed objects they have to find in their surroundings. Get them to click a photo of each and upload it to the group. The first employee/group with all the items on the list wins.

We have made you a list of things that you can add to your holiday-themed scavenger hunt. 

A list of items to hunt for during virtual holiday parties as a part of an online scavenger hunt.

#5 Name That Tune: Holiday Edition

Can you even have a party without music? And since you can’t have a D.J., it’s time to round up the troops and get the entire team to contribute. Create a holiday playlist on a service like Spotify. Invite everyone to send in their favorite holiday songs and play this list during the virtual party. 

But add a twist. Make the whole activity into a virtual game where players identify the song after the first few bars are played. This can be a group game or be played as individuals. It’s one of my personal favorites when it comes to virtual holiday party ideas for work. After all, nothing gets you into the holiday spirit faster than some tunes. And also, don’t you want to know who the human Shazam among your teammates is? 

#6 Learn Something Together AKA Take a Virtual Class 

This is one of the best ideas for a virtual holiday event for a smaller company. Sign up all your teammates for a class that you know everyone will enjoy. Opt for something fun, like a mixology session or wreath making. Plan this in advance so that you can send out hampers to employees so that they have everything they need for the session.

Want to spread some holiday cheer? Check with local business owners if anyone is offering classes to supplement their regular businesses. It’s a great way to support small businesses. 

#7 Donate Time & Resources 

Not to your employees directly, but give them an extra day off and encourage them to volunteer their time with an organization that’s helping out those in need. This could be a food bank, a toy drive, a clothes drive, or anything that they feel deeply about. 2020 has, if anything, made us more empathetic to other people’s suffering. Instead of a regular holiday party, choose as an organization to donate those resources to a voluntary organization in the way of time and money. 

There are several virtual holiday party ideas that you can pick from for your year-end gala with your team. But one thing you simply must keep in mind is to thank and toast your employees. It’s been a tough year, and a few kind words and thoughts can go a long way in making colleagues feel valued. 

Remember, virtual holiday parties are a great way to have positive conversations and establish meaningful connections with your co-workers. So, keep the party inclusive (not everyone celebrates Christmas) and positive. And set the tone right for the upcoming year. 

🎅 At Toasty, we want to drive meaningful conversations. With inbuilt engagement activities, including fun happy hour games, we make it easy for you to plan an activity-filled agenda and engage your team members. Check out more about Toasty through our website.