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How to plan the best virtual Christmas party

14th December 2020

Christmas seems to come round very fast every single year. Before we know it, it’s time to string up the wreaths and adorn our homes with lights, tinsel and lights. The festive season used to mean a calendar packed full of Christmas drinks, work parties and get-togethers. COVID-19 is sure to re-shape this year’s Christmas experience in a way never seen before due to restrictions on group meet-ups. In true adaptive spirit, friends, companies and families are opting for a remote alternative by holding virtual Christmas parties. 

 

Whether it’s for work, friends, family, a book club or otherwise, our guide on virtual Christmas  party planning will cover everything from initial organisation, food and drink, entertainment all the way to activities and games. 

What is a virtual Christmas party?

The concept of a virtual Christmas party might be confusing but it is merely a virtual event adapted to replicate what would happen at a regular Christmas party. The fundamentals behind this include: 

  • Attendees experiencing the party remotely through online video and audio connection
  • All activities, games and entertainment orchestrated online 
  • Drinks and catering can be provided via physical home delivery

Why will virtual Christmas parties become important?

The importance of the virtual Christmas party at present is fairly obvious given the current situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Christmas parties in general hold symbolic importance as they represent a time to round off the year, relax with friends and colleagues and wind down before the holidays start. It’s also a time where everyone is doing all of the above and is therefore a great chance to catch up with those you’ve not seen for a while. Even with COVID-19 on the backfoot, virtual Christmas parties will become more and more widely used. Here’s why:   

  • Remote hires became more common over the pandemic where redundancies were made and those on furlough opted for new jobs. Companies have seen better than expected productivity results due to working from home which means the makeup of future teams will consist of decentralised structures.   
  • The public is conditioned to distancing and exercising caution. It will take a while for people to feel comfortable sitting on a long table in a room of 100 other work Christmas parties. The virtual Christmas party provides a safe alternative. 
  • Families and friends that are spaced apart and might not be able to meet up in person can use virtual Christmas parties as a way of celebrating together 

What is the best way to organise a Christmas party?

To plan a successful Christmas party there are three main areas you need to decide on: 

  • How many people will be invited?
  • What will you do for entertainment?
  • Will you include any activities?
  • Will food and drink be included? 

Send out virtual Christmas party invitations 

Your first task is to create an invitee list of all of the people you wish to invite along with their email addresses. This should be a straightforward task if this is a work event but for friends, family and other situations, people tend to have multiple email addresses, some which are not checked. It’s definitely worth double checking you have the right email address before sending anything out. 

 

Online RSVP systems like Paperless post are a great way to distribute invitations as the recipient receives a professional looking digital card in their inbox. What’s more is that you can easily change your card’s text, style, envelope and backdrop as well as

adding your event’s details and making or importing a guest list. Digital invite cards are more attention grabbing and are easy to organise. Whatever design you go for don’t forget to add in the most important information of all:

 

  • Date
  • Time
  • Link to video platform and clear instructions on how to join
  • Drink preference (alcoholic and soft)
  • Participation in certain events (eg. secret santa)
  • Dietary requirements

And of course…. an attendance confirmation. 

 

The final tip for invitations is to have your refined list ready to go and invites sent out early. Christmas is a very busy time so getting a firm commitment in the diary before anyone else is important. In a previous article we cover the importance of booking christmas parties early so try to have this done in the first half of August. 

Planning food and drink options

Christmas parties are solely built around some kind of main meal. You may choose to do virtual Christmas drinks but for the full experience, there are options even when it comes to virtual Christmas parties. Before going ahead and arranging anything, make sure you double check the dietary requirements from the returned 

Food options and virtual Christmas party boxes

There are some services available that allow you to have pre-packaged food and drink delivered to the door of your attendees. These “Christmas party boxes” can vary in contents. On one hand companies like office party box offer hamper style packs of nibbles, drinks and festive costumes, whereas people like Smart Parties offer a fully-catered meal experience right to the door. 

Virtual cheese and wine tasting

One popular option to consider is virtual cheese and wine tasting before the main meal. In a similar fashion, companies like Love Cheese offer virtual tasting events where attendees can dial into a live-stream with their very own aficionado. Packages containing the wine and cheeses for the session will be sent to all attendees prior to the date. This is a great way of getting everyone comfortable with the virtual format of the evening.    

Virtual cocktail-making class

If your crowd is a little more partial to wine than cheese, it might be an idea to opt for virtual cocktail making classes. These virtual packages are similar to the wine and cheese tasting, a package of ingredients and alcohol is sent through the post to all attendees. A qualified mixologist will take you through how to make a selection of cocktails using a live conferencing platform. The Cocktail Service is an example of this, and their virtual cocktail masterclass packages come in four different configurations.

Plan your virtual Christmas party games 

No Christmas party virtual or regular would be complete without fun activities and games. Virtual Christmas party games are the second pillar to the evening so getting it right can have all the difference. There are two options when sorting games for the evening

  • Pre-boxed entertainment packages - These all in one packages are offered by providers who have re-aligned their events offering virtual delivery. Alongside as food, some companies like Evolve Events offer packages complete with a virtual environment spanning multiple party rooms and a main DJ stage! On one hand these entertainment and game packages are easy to manage and require less moving parts. On the other hand they offer less control and personalisation which may be important depending on who is attending.     
  • Separately organised activities - If you want a more bespoke approach to entertainment, you can organise a number of virtual games and activities suited to whoever is attending. Granted this takes a little bit more coordination, but there are plenty of options.

Throwing a virtual Christmas quiz

Quizzes are a Christmas staple and are an excellent way of encouraging bonding and fun teamwork. They are also very cheap to carry out but it’s always a good idea to incentivise participation by offering a decent prize. There are hundreds of resources online for virtual Christmas quiz questions but you may want to add that personal touch and theme the questions further.    

Mingle your guests with a virtual Christmas escape room 

The popular escape room phenomenon is also available in virtual form and is a great way of having some collaborative fun. You might want to start your evening off with the Virtual Christmas Escape Room event. The basic premise is that your provider will host the event through an online event conferencing platform and your attendees (having been split off into teams of about four) complete against each other to solve the escape. A virtual Christmas escape room is fantastic at stimulating fun, camaraderie and banter among teams which sets up the evening nicely for the meal.  

Virtual secret santa

It’s almost unthinkable not to include a secret santa at any virtual Christmas party! Virtual secret santas are very easy to replicate and there has been some great work coming from the likes of drawnames. This app allows you to 

  • Input names from your RSVPs that opted to take part in the virtual secret santa.
  • Each person can then click to draw a randomised name and even anonymously ask that person questions to get a better idea of what they want.
  • Gifts are cataloged in the app’s gift finder which will link you to the gift retailer where you can order.
  • Make sure to enter the address of the person you’ve drawn.

Christmas jumper competition 

Adding a lightly fancy dress-theme to the evening should be an unwritten rule as it just adds a little bit more of a festivity to the event. To incentivise people to don their most outlandish Christmas sweater why not make it into a competition. At the end of the event everyone has a vote and nominates who they think should win. The prize can be small such as a bottle of wine or box of chocolates.

End with a virtual recognition ceremony

What better way to see off the year than a virtual recognition ceremony. As mentioned, this is a great way to show appreciation especially in a work context. The virtual recognition ceremony is a great feature of any virtual Christmas party because it can be applied to both work or social contexts. For example, if you are planning the party for work, you can prepare five categories such as “best team player”, “extra mile” and so on. For a social event or club, you can tailor these categories to more personal circumstances relating to that group of people. Simply: 

  • Pick five or so award categories
  • Arrange a prize for each category
  • Head over to https://www.strawpoll.me/ and create your voting poll

University of London Venues: The pinnacle of christmas party settings  

With circumstances always changing both virtual, hybrid and normal Christmas parties are all possibilities. As the situation surrounding the current pandemic continues to improve, we are able to offer Senate House for 2021 Christmas party bookings. The striking marble entrances, large halls and iconic architecture promise to deliver an evening you won’t forget. 

 

We are also offering a flexible booking policy and great discounts for all Christmas 2021 bookings. Call now on 020 7862 8127 or contact us today

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