Virtual Holiday Party Ideas for Work: How to Plan an Epic Virtual Office Holiday Party in 2021
While your team might not be able to gather in-person this year, you can still plan an epic festive event with the right virtual holiday party ideas for work.
The most festive time of the year is quickly approaching, and this celebratory season has probably got you mulling over virtual holiday party ideas for work.
After all, as much as many organizations love bringing their remote employees together for a holiday party, it may just not be realistic in 2021. Flights are expensive and uncertainty with in-person gatherings means the risk of cancellation is always on the table. So, doing something digital seems like the safer bet this year.
Here’s the good news: even if you can’t gather in person this year, you can still host an epic office holiday party in 2021.
So, to help you get your planning started on the right foot, we’ve compiled six tips for how to plan and host your event as well as 26 virtual holiday party ideas your team will love.
- 6 Tips for How to Plan and Host Your Virtual Office Holiday Party
- 1. Start at the End
- 2. Plan a Date and Time
- 3. Decide How You’ll Host It
- 4. Create an Agenda
- 5. Share the Details
- 6. Pick the Right Activities
- 26 Virtual Holiday Party Activity Ideas Your Team Will Love
- 1. Holiday-Themed Virtual Happy Hour
- 2. Ugly Sweater Party
- 3. Frost’s Virtual Holiday Trivia
- 4. Celebrate All Kinds of Holidays
- 5. Virtual Secret Santa
- 6. Elf’s Virtual Merry Mingler
- 7. Festive Talent Show
- 8. Cook or Bake as a Team
- 9. Virtual Holiday Hijinks
- 10. Holiday-Themed Game of Whose Line Is It Anyway
- 11. Virtual Yuletide Showdown
- 12. Play Some Icebreaker Games
- 13. Holiday Costume Party
- 14. The Virtual Do-Good Games
- 15. Holiday Movie Pictionary
- 16. Virtual Beach Staycation
- 17. Virtual Gingerbread House Building
- 18. Decorate Your Home Offices Together
- 19. Holiday Buzzwords
- 20. Virtual Clue Murder Mystery
- 21. Virtual Holiday Bingo
- 22. Bring in a Special Guest
- 23. Virtual Escape Room: Jewel Heist
- 24. Holiday Karaoke on Zoom
- 25. Most Likely To
- 26. Have an Online Holiday Movie Screening
6 Tips for How to Plan and Host Your Virtual Office Holiday Party
Hosting a virtual office holiday party is a little bit different than hosting one in person. But it doesn’t have to be complicated—in fact, virtual events actually involve fewer logistics than their in-person counterparts.
Here are six tips for how to successfully plan and host your virtual event for the holidays.
1. Start at the End
First and foremost, think about what you want to get out of your event. Do you want it to be completely social and all about having fun? Or do you want there to be some aspects of virtual team building or training and development to it?
Depending on the outcome you hope to achieve, your planning process and even structure will vary.
2. Plan a Date and Time
Just like an in-person event, you’ll need to plan a date and time for your event. But since many remote teams operate in different time zones, make sure to pick a time that works conveniently for everyone, regardless of their geographical location.
3. Decide How You’ll Host It
While you won’t have to source or book a venue, you’ll need to decide what virtual platform you’d like to use to host your event. This can include things like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts, but can also include some more specialized platforms as well (stay tuned for more on this later in the article).
Once you’ve decided on your platform, it’s vital to ensure that every attendee of your virtual event is set up to use it. So, take some time before the day of your party to get everyone set up with everything that they need in order to take part.
4. Create an Agenda
With in-person holiday office parties, people stroll in and mingle as they please. Virtual office parties are a bit different because having people join sporadically can be distracting and awkward.
So, create an agenda for your event that maps out everything that’s going to happen during the event. This way, everyone will know when to join, how things will kick off, and what to expect. For example, pencil in some time for welcome remarks to act as an official party kick-off.
5. Share the Details
Make sure to send out calendar invites with all of the key details of the event, including the date, time, link to login, and the event agenda.
6. Pick the Right Activities
Once you’ve got all the logistics mapped out, it’s time to decide exactly what activities, themes, and other fun things you’ll be incorporating into your event. It might be a good idea to shortlist some ideas, circulate them to your team using a tool like SurveyMonkey, and find out what people are most interested in. That way, you’ll be able to pick the activities that will be the most well-received by your team.
And that is a perfect segue!
26 Virtual Holiday Party Activity Ideas Your Team Will Love
With your high-level planning done, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty fun of planning your event: picking the perfect virtual holiday party ideas to bring it all to life.
And we’ve got 26 themes, games, and activities you can choose from to make your virtual office holiday party as epic as can be.
1. Holiday-Themed Virtual Happy Hour
The holiday season is all about making spirits bright, and what better way to do that than with some… well, spirits?
Host a holiday-themed virtual happy hour for your team and encourage everyone to make their best festive cocktail.
Some of our favorites include:
- Boozy Green Punch: These bright green cocktails made with vodka, pineapple juice, ginger ale, Kool-Aid, and a few other simple ingredients will be a huge holiday hit.
- White Christmas Margaritas: We know margaritas usually conjure up images of tropical beach destinations, but this incredible holiday reimagination puts an irresistible winter spin on this classic cocktail.
- Christmosas: Mimosas are a go-to staple at almost every work party, and we strongly recommend adding a holiday twist to the traditional sipper by adding cranberries, grapes, pomegranate seeds, and a little sparkling grape juice.
For more cocktail ideas and inspiration, check out this list of 50 holiday cocktails from Delish.
2. Ugly Sweater Party
Arguably among the most classic holiday traditions, ugly sweater parties give attendees a chance to have some fun, use their creativity, and enjoy a good laugh. Encourage your team to find—or make—their best possible ugly holiday sweater. You’d be surprised just how creative people get—we’ve even seen sweaters with lights and mistletoe on them!
The holiday season is all about coming together and celebrating! So, in Frost’s Virtual Holiday Trivia, you and your team will be invited to join the Frosts in the lounge of their brand-new ice hotel. While you’re there, you’ll compete through three rounds of holiday and winter-themed trivia questions, earning points for each one answered correctly. But the fun doesn’t stop there! You’ll also become better acquainted with your colleagues as you take part in a round of Frost’s Icebreaker Questions.
4. Celebrate All Kinds of Holidays
It’s important to remember that there are many different holidays celebrated by people all around the world. So, try not to focus just on one single holiday. Instead, celebrate them all.
You can do this by have each of your virtual holiday party guests share something about the holidays they celebrate. You can ask people to talk a little about what that holiday means to them, how they celebrate, and even some favorite holiday traditions or memories they might have.
5. Virtual Secret Santa
Think Secret Santa’s only for in-person events? Think again. It can easily be done in a virtual format. You’ll just need to adjust your approach a bit.
Here’s how to do it:
- Pick one person to manage the process: It’s smart to have one single person oversee managing your Secret Santa, just to keep things simple.
- Set a budget per person: This can be anything, but we recommend $25 per person. You may also want to either provide a postage stipend or include it in this budget.
- Get everyone’s wish list: You’ll need to get a wish for everyone on your team. It’s easiest to do this with broad categories, like food and snacks, office items, or books. Check the next point for the best way to do this.
- Draw Secret Santa partners: Next, you need to pick Secret Santa partners. We recommend using a tool like Elfster which will help you gather the wish list and then pick partners, all in one place.
If you’re not sure what to get as gifts for your colleagues, check out our list of 26 corporate holiday gift ideas for employees and clients.
As the holidays get underway, sometimes all you and your colleagues want to do is celebrate the season and spend quality time together. And with Elf’s Virtual Merry Mingler, that’s exactly what you’ll do.
Set in a venue in Santa’s North Pole village, this virtual holiday team building activity is made up of a series of social mixer activities that are all about sharing a laugh, creating some positive festive energy, and letting teammates enjoy each other’s company—regardless of the geographical distance between them.
7. Festive Talent Show
Want to get to know your teammates like never before? Then host a virtual festive talent show. Each person on your team will be tasked with picking a secret talent that pertains to the season and showing it off to the group. This could be anything from wrapping a gift really fast to memorizing every word to a certain holiday song.
8. Cook or Bake as a Team
The holidays are a big foodie season, so it’s a fun idea to host a virtual cooking or baking day with your teammates.
Here’s how to do it:
- Pick a few recipes, like cookies, tarts, roasted nuts, or a more savory dish of your choice, and circulate them to your team using a service like MailChimp in order to see which one people prefer
- Send everyone the ingredients list and give them some time to pick up what they need
- Get everyone together on a video conferencing platform to cook all together while socializing
If you want to make this extra enjoyable for people, consider sending them a small budget for their ingredients so they don’t have to pay for them out of pocket.
And if you’re looking for even more recipe inspiration, check out this list of 50 quick and easy holiday recipes from The Food Network.
If you and your team love a high-energy activity, then Virtual Holiday Hijinks is perfect for you.
This festive holiday-themed virtual team building activity is a perfect addition to any office holiday party. It’s all about working collaboratively to tackle a variety of physical, cerebral, and skills-based challenges, such as:
- Cookie Conundrum – Luke made 42 holiday cookies. He brought half of them to his office. He ate one third of the cookies that were left. Then he gave 8 cookies to his neighbor. He left the rest of the cookies out for Santa. How many cookies did Santa get?
- Elf Yourself – Each team member needs to create the most unique gift you can using only the items available to you. Snap a photo of everyone showcasing their gifts.
- Junk Yard Jingle – Record a 5-second video of a teammate creating the beat to a holiday song using objects found around your house or office. Be sure to practice getting your notes right as the instrumental version has to be in tune!
Each team will compete to complete as many challenges as possible, earning points along the way. Whichever has the most points when time runs out will be crowned the Virtual Holiday Hijinks Champions!
10. Holiday-Themed Game of Whose Line Is It Anyway
If your team loves having a laugh and has some energy to spare, play a holiday-themed version of Whose Line Is It Anyway.
- Select one person to act as the host
- Pick two people at a time to improvise a scene together
- Ask the other virtual holiday party guests to submit holiday-themed questions or topics to be acted out (we recommend doing this in the chat to keep things organized)
- Give the two improv actors thirty seconds to act out the scene as best they can
Once they’ve had their 30 seconds (and once everyone has stopped laughing), pick two new improv actors and go again.
Looking for a way to ring in the holiday season with your team while exercising communication and collaboration skills, having a lot of laughs, and creating bonds with your colleagues?
Then Yuletide Showdown is the perfect activity for you.
In this fast-faced and high-energy team building activity, you and your colleagues will race the clock, competing to unlock six different challenge categories: Sounds of Christmas, Holiday Trivia, Holiday Characters, Holiday Pictionary, Festive Scavenger Hunt, and Holiday-Style Who-Dun-It.
Then, you’ll need to strategically complete challenges, keeping a close eye on the real-time leaderboard and staying one step ahead of the competition.
12. Play Some Icebreaker Games
Add an extra fun social element to your virtual office holiday party by incorporating a few rounds of icebreaker questions into the mix.
These questions are intended to drum up some laughs and to help colleagues get to know each other better in the process.
This could include:
- Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?
- If you could travel anywhere for holidays, where would it be and why?
- Who’s the toughest person you have to buy gifts for during the holidays?
If you’re looking for more holiday icebreakers, you’ll find an entire section dedicated to them in our list of 300 icebreaker questions for work.
13. Holiday Costume Party
We’ve got a question for you: who says costumers are just for Halloween? In our humble opinion, holiday costumer parties can be just as fun!
Encourage your teammates to attend your virtual office holiday party in their best holiday costume—whatever it may be!
The holidays are a time to give back, so do a little good with this philanthropic virtual team building activity.
Team up with your colleagues for a Virtual Do-Good Games to do some good in the world and give back to those in need, all while having a blast. This is a morale-boosting virtual team building activity that transforms friendly competition into charitable donations.
15. Holiday Movie Pictionary
Everyone loves a game of Pictionary, and to make it even more fitting for the season, you can add a holiday twist.
Here’s how to do it:
- Ask each team member to bring a blank piece of paper to your virtual holiday party.
- Divide the group into two teams. Each team will designate an artist for the round.
- The artist will pick a holiday movie to draw a scene from.
- The artist will draw the selected movie.
- Team members will guess the film.
Give each team a set amount of time to guess—between 30 seconds and one minute is ideal. Whichever team ends up with the most correct guesses will be the winner!
Who says you can’t celebrate the holidays in the tropics? If you ask us, you should be able to get festive on a beach without even having to leave your office.
You and your colleagues can join Captain Furling on his virtually chartered yacht. Come aboard and channel your “inner Cancun” for a tropical online team building adventure.
Captain Furling’s chartered yacht welcomes online guests aboard his luxury vessel and quickly takes them out of their homes to a gorgeous beach in Cancun.
With ocean soundscapes and delightful vacation destination footage, your travel companions will compete with their knowledge of travel destinations, vacation-themed movies, summer pop hits, and even a cabana-wear contest. Your yacht captain gives guests a playfully immersive experience for a virtual team vacation from your workday that your colleagues truly deserve.
17. Virtual Gingerbread House Building
Want to add a little competition to your virtual holiday party? Host a gingerbread house building competition.
To keep this as simple as possible, you can just get your teammates to pick up their own pre-made gingerbread houses to assemble. The real fun will come in the decorating, so whatever details they choose to add will be entirely up to them!
18. Decorate Your Home Offices Together
For a low-key virtual holiday office party idea, you and your colleagues can simply fire up a video conferencing platform and socialize while decorating your home offices together.
This is a great way to get into the festive season and to spend get some much-needed facetime together in a relaxed environment.
19. Holiday Buzzwords
Ever heard of Buzzwords? It’s a fun game to play in the background of your virtual office holiday party.
The premise is simple: create a list of holiday-themed words and circulate it to your team. Each team member will pick one word and, every time they hear it, they’ll need to do a specific thing—such as take a sip of their drink or wave their hands in the air.
Holiday-themed Buzzwords could include:
The possibilities are pretty much endless.
Well, we know what you’re thinking on this one: murder mysteries and the holidays don’t really go together.
Or do they?
Believe it or not, this is one of our most popular virtual team building activities around the holidays.
Here’s the premise: you and your team will need to solve the murder of a man named Neil Davidson by figuring out who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime. This is the perfect virtual game for folks who love problem-solving team building activities.
Nothing says festivity like solving a crime–or so our customers tell us!
21. Virtual Holiday Bingo
Bingo is a fun and high-energy game that gets everyone engaged. To play, all you need to do is come up with a list of holiday-themed statements. Then, pick a host and have that person call out each question or statement, one at a time. For each one that applies to them, players will cross statements off on their bingo board. Once they’ve got them all, they call out Bingo! and they’ve won the game.
For some holiday-inspired bingo statements, you can try things like:
- Has a birthday in December
- Gave to a charity
- Is traveling out of the state for the holidays
- Has a real Christmas tree
- Is wearing an ugly sweater
You can also use a pre-made holiday bingo card, like this one.
22. Bring in a Special Guest
Want to add a little “surprise and delight” to your virtual office holiday party? One fun thing you can do is to purchase a Cameo from someone your team will recognize to wish them a happy holiday, or someone who’s well-known for appearances in holiday movies.
We’re all about untraditional holiday traditions, and that’s why we love the idea of mixing in an unexpected holiday favorite here and there.
One of our favorites? A Virtual Escape Room: Jewel Heist team building activity.
There’s been a robbery! Someone has masterminded a heist to steal a priceless collection of precious jewels, and it’s up to you and your team to recover them before time runs out.
In this virtually-hosted escape room activity, you and your team will need to uncover hidden clues and solve a series of brain-boggling challenges that require collaboration, creative problem-solving, and outside-the-box thinking. But be quick! The clock is ticking before the stolen score is gone forever.
24. Holiday Karaoke on Zoom
If your team isn’t bashful and enjoys blowing off some steam, host a virtual holiday karaoke session where people can sing their favorite holiday songs together. You can do this as a group or use breakout rooms for small groups to sing different songs.
We’re not saying your team will need liquid courage for this, but we’ve found that holiday karaoke pairs well with holiday happy hours.
25. Most Likely To
Much like icebreaker questions or a festive talent show, playing a game of Most Like To is another great way to get to know more about your teammates.
The premise is simple: come up with a list of holiday-themed situations, read them aloud, and let each person vote on who they think is most likely to fit with that situation.
This could include who’s most likely to:
- Be a Scrooge around the holidays
- Go somewhere hot for the holidays
- Spend a fortune on gifts
- Go overboard while decorating their house
- Put off shopping until the last minute
This game is guaranteed to produce a lot of laughs.
26. Have an Online Holiday Movie Screening
There is a virtually endless selection of holiday movies at your disposal. So, host a holiday screening party using Teleparty.
If you’re not familiar with Teleparty, think of this platform as Zoom built for watching movies and shows with friends and colleagues remotely. Teleparty is a browser extension that lets you watch Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, and HBO in sync with others.
For a lot of people, holiday parties at work will probably look a little bit different this year. But with the right virtual holiday office party ideas, you can throw an unforgettable festive event that your colleagues will love.
Do you have a favorite virtual holiday office party idea? Let us know what it is in the comments section below!
Want to learn more about holiday team building activities?
If you’ve got questions about team building activities that will be the perfect fit for your virtual holiday office party, reach out to an Employee Engagement Consultant.