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12 Festive Ideas for a Virtual Christmas Party with Family + Friends

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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.

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?

ugly christmas sweaters

Platform — If you need space for more than two households/participants, there are several platforms to choose from:

(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!

snowman and other holiday cookies

1. Cookie Recipe Swap

Since it’s not totally safe to bake and ship your homemade cookies this year, simply swap a favorite recipe, like Big ‘Ol Chocolate Chip Molasses Oatmeal Cookies or Cranberry White Chocolate Cookie Bars! 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!

holiday lights and decorations on the outside of a house

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:

Here’s wishing you more happiness than all my words can tell. Not just alone for Christmas, but for all the year as well.

― Unknown

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.

a stack of holiday s'mores with a pine branch in the background

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:

  • plain or fruity rice cereal
  • crushed peppermint candies / candy canes
  • dried cranberries
  • pomegranate seeds
  • popcorn

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 or How to Create a Holiday Popcorn Bar!

pin image for 12 festive ideas for a virtual Christmas party

Image Credits:

  • Featured Image — Switlana Symonenko from Getty Images
  • Ugly sweaters — RyanJLane from Getty Images Signature
  • Cookies — Photo by Yulian Karadzhov on Unsplash
  • Outdoor lights — Photo by James Wheeleron Unsplash
  • S’Mores — Svetlana Monyakova from Getty Images

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  1. These are all great ideas for virtual parties but what do you do when not everyone is tech savvy or even like this idea of virtual party? Do you invite and not stress about weather they attend or not? Wish my family was more tech savvy. 😢

    1. Great questions! I think we can all agree that adapting to circumstances is a theme for 2020. The most important thing is to give yourself some grace! That said, maybe reach out to your non-tech savvy family members early and ask them how they’d like to connect for the holidays. If they’re interested in trying video chat, test it out with them in advance. (Most platforms provide a how-to guide, and walking through it with them would be a lovely gift of your time.)

      I haven’t used FB Messenger Rooms yet, but will test it out — no account is needed, so as long as someone has a link, they can click and join the room. That’s the platform I would recommend for the technically challenged.

      If folks simply aren’t interested in video or having a virtual party, a good old fashioned phone call may be the way to go. If that’s the case and you still want to do something a little extra special, try recording a quick video greeting (or Christmas carol) from you and yours that you can email or text. Might not be two-way communication, but it would spread some holiday cheer. I wish you the best! xo

  2. Such great and safe ideas to celebrate the holidays! The gingerbread house competition sounds so much fun! I don’t think I’d be able to schedule this with the fam, since most of them can barely operate their phone. 😅 But I’m definitely going to try this with some friends.

    Thanks so much for sharing! ✨

  3. Could not have read this at a more perfect time since we are having a family virtual get together this weekend and I’m so excited to use your Christmas scavenger hunt! Thanks for the free download and all the fun ideas to make it a great virtual get together!!

  4. I love that you shared fun and festive ideas to create a wonderful Christmas! This year has been challenging and it’s still so important to join together with loved ones. Thanks for your special ideas!

  5. I love all of these ideas! Earlier this year, we had a game night over Zoom. We’re thinking about opening presents with everyone on Zoom since we won’t be together this year which I think will be a fun alternative. 😊

    1. Sounds like fun! We did some present opening last weekend over video — glad the aunts and uncles got to see the kids’ excitement!

  6. These are such creative ideas!! I love the concept of dressing up in silly holiday sweaters and swapping cookie recipes while drinking festive cocktails. (Clearly, I’d combine tons of these suggestions together haha)! I’m so glad you shared this to give me inspiration.

  7. Things we didn’t expect to be doing in 2020! Thank you for sharing these fun ideas. I love the idea of swapping recipes – I have a new habit of baking because of 2020!