Best Conferencing Tips

How To Throw A Virtual Holiday Party That Rocks

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Close up of young woman wearing a santa hat and face mask, holding up smartphone to take a pictureAs we approach the end of the year, surely by now, you (and a lot of people on the planet!) have a good handle on how to make almost any event virtual. This year has taught us the conveniences of video conferencing and what it can do to bridge the gap between colleagues, friends, and family.

Video conferencing has been a saving grace in a lot of respects when it comes to online hiring, virtual board meetings, remote sales presentations, and a whole slew of other things. But when it comes to a holiday party, it wouldn’t be out of the question to raise an eyebrow!

A virtual holiday party, seriously? YES! Here’s how to forego in-person gatherings in favor of bringing the festive cheer online. Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years’, any celebration can be reimagined virtually.

  1. Establish Goals
    Start by creating an intention or having a basic goal from which everything else will stand upon. Do you want to put your team under the spotlight and recognize their achievements? Generate funds to give back to the community? Celebrate the ending of the year with familiar faces? Once you decide the focus of your party, other details will fall into place! If It’s team-oriented: Create a highlight reel beforehand detailing the year’s events and who did what. Include employee photos, and reach out to people who might be interested in presenting or making a speech. Kick it up a notch and send out cocktail/mocktail packages in advance so on the day of the party, you can have a mixologist lead a cocktail making session. And then cheers everyone for another year finished! If it’s an end-of-the-year party: Depending on the size of the party, ask everyone to pick one specific virtual team-building activity to do. This can include virtual holiday trivia, virtual holiday charades or a dinner party! See more options below.
  2. Select A Theme
    Choose an image and or color scheme to be used across all touchpoints of your party, such as invitations, the registration page, a background image, and the actual meeting environment itself, like the user interface. Go one step further and add a customized audio greeting and or custom hold music. Use an image of fireworks, a wintery landscape, or a snowflake design. Maybe it’s a photo of last year’s get together!
  3. Create A Structured Agenda
    By planning ahead, you’ll know how to prepare! Consider who will host/MC. How many activities will there be? Is food involved (Pro-tip: Incorporate food! More on that below)? Make sure each activity is a reasonable length of time to allow for breaks and to encourage engagement. Use a spreadsheet to help you stay organized! A virtual holiday party agenda could look like:

    1. Hello and introduction from the host
    2. Speech from CEO
    3. 15-minute cocktail/mocktail making
    4. Activities (more below):
    5. Guess the Gift
    6. Name That Tune – holiday edition
    7. Virtual Holiday Trivia
    8. Closing remarks
  4. Choose Technology
    Which video conferencing platform is easy to use, intuitive, and can be accessed by a browser with no extra equipment or set up? Go for something that also comes with text chat, gallery and speaker view, and an easy way to send and receive files using file and document sharing or an online whiteboard.
  5. Send Out Invites And Reminders
    Close up dark teal door with holiday wreath made from pine cones hanging from brass knocker outsideA festive invitation is sure to get people excited about showing up. Send out digital invites that include all the necessary info: Time, date, registration page, meeting URL, etc. Also include mention of the dress code – nice and semi-formal or ugly Christmas sweater style – and if any packages required for the event will be sent out. Also, video conferencing technology that comes with a Google integration can be helpful when planning events like this as they send out reminders and automatic updates to each person’s calendar. SMS notifications update participants immediately on their devices, too!
  6. Design A Registration Or Facebook Page
    Just so you can stay on top of numbers, plan for the delivery of packages or food, ask about food allergies, or get everyone’s address – this is an online space where people can stay informed. This works well too for sharing screenshots and making comments after the event.
  7. Open The Conversation Early And Often
    Drum up excitement as soon as possible by posting clips of your favorite holiday movies, tagging colleagues, posting conversation starters, planning online meetings with others to help organize, etc. Share holiday photos, videos and FAQs that colleagues might be asking about.
  8. Consider Holiday Music
    Invite colleagues to share their favorite tunes and carols by creating a Spotify list or adding to a spreadsheet. Invite everyone to vote or enlist a lucky teammate to be the holiday DJ.
  9. Have Some Prizes Ready
    Create more engagement by including prizes to be won. They can be for games or to encourage participation. Other than winning the activity, have prizes ready for best dressed, hardest worker, most punctual, etc.
  10. Be Creative!
    Most likely, this is the first time you and your office is planning a virtual holiday party. The point is to make everyone feel included and to have fun. To do that, creativity is involved. Maybe you’re hosting a dinner party which means you’ll have to figure out ways that make it feel like a dinner party but virtually. Send out a meal package and hire a chef to take everyone through an easy step-by-step meal. Or host a games party where your team is led through a few activities. Just remember: If there are items required for the activity, be sure to have addresses on hand, and send them out sooner rather than later!
  11. Connection Is Key
    One of the realities of a virtual party is that there are fewer one on one conversations. With everyone in the same meeting room, branching off to speak with a smaller group or an individual is less likely to happen – unless you plan it! At some point during the party, break off into smaller groups to play games like holiday trivia charades, karaoke or headbands.
  12. Practice Makes Perfect!
    Plan ahead for a fun and smooth online gathering by running through the event before it happens. See where the bottlenecks are, how much time each activity requires, and find out if you need help with certain parts of it. After all, perfect practice makes perfect!
  13. Share After
    Keep the conversation going by posting prize winners, sharing screenshots, and creating hashtags that colleagues can use and share their stories. Let everyone share comments in the group, and try sending out a survey to get some feedback about what can be done better next time.

A virtual holiday party hosted with video conferencing technology has the capacity to be a fun and interactive event. With a little planning, creativity, and help from colleagues, everyone can still come together to celebrate another year that has come and gone.

Here are a few games to whet your whistle and inspire your holiday party. They’re classic games made virtual, but still elicit the same fun for everyone to share!

  1. Online Holiday Bingo/Pictionary/Charades
    Take these traditional games and play them in an online environment. They are guaranteed to be just as hilarious and entertaining!
    Bingo:
    Remove the letters B-I-N-G-O and instead list potential feelings about the holidays in a 5X5 box template. If the box applies to you, mark it. The first participant to get 5 in a row vertically, horizontally or diagonally wins a prize!Some example of the playing square items include:

    1. Loves Christmas the most
    2. Celebrates Hanukkah
    3. Skis or snowboards
    4. Wins snowball fights
    5.  Can’t handle another xmas carolPictionary: Enlist a participant to break out the online whiteboard. They have to select one of the pre-selected concepts or words, draw it, then everyone has to guess it. Ensure you have more than a few words ready to go so it’s easy to keep the game running and no one has to waste time thinking of what’s next.
      Charades: Make sure the participant who is acting it out has their audio and video on. Again, have pre-selected words to choose from, so the acting participant can jump right into character. Use Speaker Spotlight for less distraction and minimal disruption. Some ideas for Pictionary and Charades: Mrs. Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, an elf workshop, silver bells, The Night Before Christmas, the Grinch, a menorah, etc.
  2. Virtual Holiday Trivia
    Get reacquainted with your holiday trivia and put colleagues to the test. Once you’ve got a handful of challenging questions, get everyone to use the “Raise Hand” feature for better organization. Some example questions include:

      1. Popular 90s sitcom Seinfeld created a made up winter holiday called…?
        A: Festivus
      2. What three colors are used to celebrate Kwanzaa?
        A: Black, red and green
      3. Name all eight reindeer from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
        A: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Coet, Cupid, Dnner and Blitzen
        Here are a few more!
  3. Virtual Ugly Sweaters
    Invite colleagues to wear their vintage holiday sweaters to the virtual holiday party. If they don’t have one, send out some other options, like santa hats, sequined scarves or festive headbands like reindeer horns!
  4. Virtual Holiday Icebreakers
    Get people chatting one on one or in small groups by having a quick-glance list of fun and quirky ice breakers. Whether by video or audio, spice up the conversation by asking:
    What’s the strangest holiday gift you’ve ever received?
    Share a holiday custom you’ve never experienced before
    If you’ve spent the holidays in a different country, what was it like there?
    Have you ever received coal?
  5. Gingerbread Man Competition
    Pre holiday party, send out a gingerbread man or gingerbread house for everyone to build. Set aside some time for participants to build it while online or a few minutes to share their progress or final product. Take screenshots and vote on whose looks the best, the most ridiculous, put in the best effort, etc.
  6. Name That Tune – Holiday Edition
    This is a fun one for music lovers! Cue up a few songs and play only the first 10 seconds. First person to use the Raise Hand feature, and correctly guess the name of the song, wins!
  7. Guess The Gift With 20 Questions
    Who hasn’t snooped at gifts once in their life? This is a fun and dynamic game where the host selects a gift, wraps it to conceal its shape then everyone guesses by asking questions like, “Can you wear it?” “Is it edible?” “Is it a game?” “Is it kid-friendly?” Keep on going until someone guesses right! And if they guess wrong, they’re out!
  8. Most Likely To…
    Young woman wearing a santa hat and face mask appearing surprised, with arms raised and placed on her head, standing in front of a large holiday treeGet everyone in on the fun by asking colleagues to consider who is most likely to perform in a specific way during the holidays. Come up with a few questions you can ask everyone to decide who is most likely to:

    1. Have the most decorations
    2. Put off Christmas shopping until the last minute
    3. Drink the most eggnog
    4. Cry watching a holiday movie
    5. Eat the most during holiday dinner
    6. Pick out the perfect present
    7. Look the best dressed as Santa Claus
  9. Never Have I Ever Holiday Edition
    Using the classic set up “Never have I ever…” let the host start by saying to participants something they’ve never done. All participants hold up 10 fingers and for each item you have done, a finger goes down. The participant with most fingers remaining, wins! Here are a few sample ideas:

    1. Never have I ever been kissed under mistletoe!
    2. Never have I ever been given coal for Christmas!
    3. Never have I ever spinned a Dreidel!
    4. Never have I ever tried fruit cake!

This year might be a little different, but with video conferencing, creativity and an open mind, celebrating the year end can still be fun! Let Callbridge add a bit of sparkle to your big or small holiday party.

With features that bring everyone together, it’s easy to still spread the cheer online. Use video calls to see participants face to face; Speaker and Gallery view for accommodating many users; Moderator Controls to keep everything smooth-flowing, and so much more!

Callbridge wishes you a very happy holiday season!

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Mason Bradley

Mason Bradley

Mason Bradley is a marketing maestro, social media savant, and customer success champion. He has been working for iotum for many years to help create content for brands like FreeConference.com. Aside from his love of pina coladas and getting caught in the rain, Mason enjoys writing blogs and reading about blockchain technology. When he isn’t at the office, you can probably catch him on the soccer field, or at the “Ready To Eat” section of Whole Foods.

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