October 28, 2020
By Mike Fletcher

Christmas may end up looking a bit different this year, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the staff festivities. If anything, employees need a rewarding reason to come together more than ever - to know that they’re valued, to remain motivated and to receive thanks for adapting to remote working in what, let’s face it, has been a very difficult year. 

Virtual Christmas parties are fun online events that can be held over video conferencing platforms. They should be a blend of company messaging to motivate and set-out strategy for the year ahead, together with a chance for remote employees to reconnect and engage with their co-workers and enjoy the very best in virtual fun-filled entertainment. 

Three reasons to host an online Christmas party

Laugher is a key ingredient of online Christmas parties

  1. Cost
    Understandably, budgets are tight. It’s been a tough and challenging year for a lot of companies. However, virtual Christmas parties can be a lot more cost-effective than in-person events.  Without the need to hire a static venue, and without the cost of food and beverage, you can still hold an amazing fun experience to say thank-you to your teams for a fraction of the cost. 
  2. Safety 
    With the constantly changing regulations and advice, it’s difficult to know what will be permitted or possible this Christmas. By hosting a virtual Christmas event, you can ensure the safety of staff and teams, whilst still allowing them to switch off, relax and take part in a fun social group experience where the only face-mask required could be an over-sized pair of comedy glasses.
  3. Fun & Laughter
    By the end of the year, we’re all a little worn-out by work but in 2020, we’ve also experienced Zoom fatigue. Fun and laughter should therefore be the key ingredients of an online Christmas party, with upbeat, interactive and engaging activities and entertainment. 

Send a gift

Send a gift to each attendee the week before your event

In order to achieve high levels of fun and staff interaction, digital Christmas events should include personalised gifts sent out to each invitee the week before. 

These could range from a basic cracker or ‘Secret Santa’ gift-set to ensure everyone has a present to open, a paper crown to wear and a joke to tell, to more imaginative ideas to fit the theme of your virtual entertainment or team-building concept. 

For example, if you’re planning a virtual cocktail-making workshop, make sure to send everyone a kit with all the ingredients (plus mini umbrellas) so that they can join in and toast each other from the comfort of their home. Or why not ask guests to make festive miniature versions of themselves by sending them Christmas gingerbread-making kits? 

More ideas for pre-event personalised gift-sets include:

  • Hot chocolate kits with mix-ins like mini candy canes and marshmallows (for Winter themed events, story-telling or just to make everyone feel warm and comfy). 
  • Photo props, such as over-sized sunglasses, Deely Bobbers and Santa hats, for a video call photo booth.
  • Virtual party game essentials, such as the Famous Faces round for a pub quiz, a cup and ball for beer pong or dress-up for pets to wear during an online animal talent show. 
  • Christmas hymn sheets for a ‘Carol Karaoke’ or a print-out of a Spotify playlist, whereby guests have to guess which song was added by which one of their co-workers as the tracks get played during the event.
  • Campfire kits to include tea-light candles, cocktail sticks, marshmallows and chocolate.

Receiving a pre-event gift in the post will not only create excitement and anticipation around the online company Christmas party, it could also be the difference between full attendance and those who thought this would be ‘just another Zoom meeting’. 

Virtual Entertainment 

Entertain guests with virtual magic shows

In order to over-deliver on your festive promise that this will be the online event of the year, the next consideration is virtual entertainment. 

After nearly a year of not being able to watch live entertainment at theatres, music venues and comedy clubs, guests would truly love it if you treated them to a virtual performance from one of the many talented corporate entertainers currently struggling and having to adapt their on-stage acts to the online arena. 

A majority of entertainment agencies offer live-streamed or pre-recorded performances and many artists will tailor their acts to suit a brief, communicate a company message or interact with online viewers. 

A few suggested performance genres include:

  • Singalongs and song requests with a piano man or acoustic trio
  • Improv poetry, rap and comedy whereby viewers suggest words, ideas or concepts, which are seamlessly worked into performances
  • Virtual interactive magic from a skilled magician
  • Circus skills, contortion and aerialist performances 
  • Comedy club with music, host and live stand-up from multiple comedians
  • Virtual Panto

Party games

Fun & laughter are key ingredients for online Christmas parties

No online festive celebration is complete without party games. These can inspire team-building or simply enhance online viewer interactions. Either way, they’re a fun addition to the online event and can be tied in with your pre-event gift (as discussed earlier). 

Again, there are lots of ideas to choose from but party game ideas that have caught my eye this year include:

  • Trivia-based games. Participants working together to answer fun, festive trivia questions along with photo, video and Charades-type challenges. 
  • Gameshow-style games. Often hosted by a professional comedian, teams earn points by participating in TV show formats such as Deal or No Deal, Family Fortunes and the Generation Game. 
  • Virtual Murder Mystery. The classic ‘whodunnit’ requires players to work together to unlock and examine evidence such as witness statements and suspect interviews while completing tasks and challenges that will assist the investigation into the weapon, motive and murderer. 
  • Christmas Escape Room. Participants must solve the clues to crack the code and break free, all before they run out of time. 
  • Task Master. Inspired by the hit TV show and hosted by a professional comedian, teams must complete tasks using items in their homes to impress their compere and earn points. 

Staff may not get the chance to see their boss hit the dance-floor this December but we shouldn’t let COVID cancel Christmas either. By planning a more personalised online Christmas event, featuring lots of laughter, interactivity and a show-stopping performance, guests will not only be filled with Christmas spirt, they’ll also feel motivated for whatever the year ahead may bring. 

Mike Fletcher

Mike Fletcher

Mike has been writing about the meetings and events industry for almost 20 years as a former editor at Haymarket Media Group, and then as a freelance writer and editor. He currently runs his own content agency, Slippy Media, catering for a wide-range of client requirements, including social strategy, long-form, event photography, event videography, reports, blogs and ghost-written material.

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