Chances are you’re hunkering down at home for the holidays this year, and I’ve got 12 festive ideas for a virtual Christmas party so you can still have some fun with family and friends!
We typically pack up the car and make the 870 mile trip west to spend Christmas with my husband’s family. For everyone’s safety, we’ll be staying home this year, but that doesn’t mean we forgo our favorite things. Instead, we’ll spin them around and adapt them for social distanced fun.
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Things to Consider When Planning Your Virtual Party
Date + Time — check schedules, especially if guests are in different time zones, when deciding when to hold your virtual party. Set a length of time for your party that supports the activities you plan to do.
Theme — Do you want to have an ugly sweater theme, a Christmas pajama party, a dress-to-impress shindig? Will it be all about snowflakes, or reindeer, or color-inspired?
Platform — If you need space for more than two households/participants, there are several platforms to choose from:
- FaceTime (up to 32, must have iOS)
- Facebook Messenger Rooms (up to 50 people, must use Chrome)
- Skype (up to 10, up to 4 hours)
- Google Meet (up to 100, up 60 minutes free)
- Zoom (up to 100, up to 40 min for free)
(Each of these comes with certain risks and idiosyncrasies, so read up before selecting the right one for you.)
Equipment — nowadays nearly everyone has a webcam built-in to your device or computer. Along with a video chatting application, that’s all you need! If you’re interested in stepping up your game, consider a high-quality webcam or even a ring light for better picture quality.
Send Invitations — Sure, you could just send a text reminder, or use your invitation to spread some extra holiday cheer! Create a web-based invite with Evite or Paperless Post. Or, use your computer to create a digital invite you can email or print and send. Not design savvy? Canva has tons of ready-to-use templates, and there are so many cool, customizable digital downloads from Etsy.
The Fun Stuff!
Before you send your invites, you’ll want to decide what you’re going to do. Here’s a roundup of easy-to-pull-off festive ideas to inspire you. I’m sure you’ve also got a tradition or two you could adapt for a virtual party!
1. Cookie Recipe Swap
Since it’s not totally safe to bake and ship your homemade cookies this year, simply swap a favorite recipe. Bake up your exchanged recipes and enjoy them during your party! Here’s a printable recipe card to use. (Download the image file, place it in your document of choice and resize it to fill the page, if necessary. Use text boxes to fill it out.)
2. Gingerbread House Competition
Gift gingerbread house kits to your friends and family or let everyone pick their favorite. You could build them ahead of time and judge them together, or amp up the excitement by seeing who can build theirs the fastest during the party. Amazon, and World Market have some fun and quirky variations on the classic gingerbread house.
3. Virtual Story Time
This is a great opportunity for grandparents and grandkids to connect. Ask grandma and grandpa to read a favorite Christmas story to your little ones via video chat. Or, perhaps grandma and grandpa can gift a new Christmas storybook to their young readers with a personal note written in the inside cover. The kids can read their new book aloud for the grands!
Check out these holiday book collections for every age:
4. Virtual Holiday Light Tour
This idea requires you to head outside! Using your mobile device, give friends & family a tour of your outdoor holiday decorations and have them do the same. Can’t coordinate due to time zones? Record a video and email or upload it instead. You can even add a personal message from you — it’s like a video holiday card!
5. Virtual Caroling
Gather around the piano or YouTube and belt out your favorite Christmas tunes karaoke-style. Everyone can take turns (because…lag time) or divvy up the parts to 12 Days of Christmas for a sing-along.
6. Christmas Scavenger Hunt
In this version, each household is its own team. Pick one person to be the facilitator who will announce which items to find. Have each person on the team take a turn finding an item as quickly as they can and return to the video with the item. Make up your own list of items to hunt down or download my Virtual Christmas Scavenger Hunt.
7. Holiday Vogueing Competition
You’re all in front of your device already, so break out the props and ugly sweaters and start snapping photos or screenshots while on video. You may end up with some hilarious memories to share next year or the best photo ever for your next Christmas card!
8. Christmas Cocktails / Mocktails
Share your favorite holiday libation recipe and kick off your virtual gathering with a toast! Or, if you all agree on one cocktail, someone can even demonstrate how to make it. Here are some yummy ones to try:
- Easy White Christmas Margarita by Joyful Healthy Eats
- Pomegranate Champagne Spritzers by The College Housewife
- Old Fashioned Homemade Eggnog by Kim & Kalee
- Rudolph’s Tipsy Spritzer by Tidy Mom
9. Play Games
It’ll take a little planning and coordination, but you can totally pull this off virtually! Try holiday versions of games like Bingo, Charades, What’s on Your Phone? and Christmas Songs Emoji. Check out the Pinterest board I created with tons of free game printables. Want game bundles or something a bit more challenging? Etsy has holiday-themed Escape Room and Murder Mystery games built for the virtual world.
10. Virtual Potluck
If you’re planning to break bread together during your party, share your favorite appetizer, side dish or dessert recipes with one another and commit to making one dish from another family member. This could be especially meaningful if you usually share dishes passed down through the generations…what a way to stay connected with the past and with one another.
11. Video Visit from Santa
If your little ones are still believers, ask another family member to dress up as Santa and make a surprise personal video visit! Maybe even stage Santa being caught nabbing some cookies.
12. Make Holiday S’mores
Set up your video next to the fireplace, your kitchen cooktop or outdoor fire pit and make s’mores together. Early gift options could include an indoor s’mores maker or a DIY custom s’mores kit. Go with traditional items or mix it up with these alternatives and add-ins:
- ginger snaps
- pretzel crisps
- gourmet flavored marshmallows
- peppermint-flavored chocolate
- plain or fruity rice cereal
- crushed peppermint candies / candy canes
- dried cranberries
- pomegranate seeds
I hope you found a fun idea or two out of these 12 festive ideas for a virtual Christmas party! If you have a great idea, please leave it in the comments below so we can spread the cheer!
And, if you’re celebrating in person, check out How to Throw a Holiday Party with Wine Cork Crafts!