How to plan an engaging virtual holiday party

5 tips for finding and organizing a virtual holiday party for a remote team. We included a list of some of the best virtual holiday party events.

Photo by Obi Onyeador

By the team at Offsyte, November 16, 2020

Holiday parties are a great outlet for teams and organizations to bond and celebrate a year of achievements. The elements of a good in-person holiday party usually include: delicious food and drinks, an interesting and spacious venue for socializing with co-workers, a band or a DJ to play the hits, and maybe a photo booth with props to take silly pictures that memorialize the night.

With so many companies either temporarily or permanently moving to a remote workforce during the pandemic, it not only makes holiday parties hard to plan, but also threatens to change some of those key elements. Event organizers will need to get creative.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about best practices for planning a virtual holiday party, discuss ways to creatively incorporate the best parts of a good in-person holiday party to ensure your organization gets the credit they deserve for a tough year well done, and take a look at some of the most popular holiday party events on Offsyte for inspiration.

How to plan a virtual holiday party

Let’s break down the components of a virtual holiday party and tackle them one by one.

1. Duration

Perhaps not the most important part of the holiday party - but certainly the biggest constraint - is the duration of the event.

In-person holiday parties don’t require as much thought for longer durations. Typically, the caterers, DJ, etc. need to be booked for the proper times, and the guests will enjoy the party. Virtual holiday parties, on the other hand, require more thought around the sequencing of the events. After all, the guests are sitting in front of their computers, so the entertainment needs to be well-thought-out to keep everyone engaged throughout the event.

A common practice we’re seeing for virtual holiday parties is to chain different events together - especially parties that are scheduled for 2+ hours. For example, start out with a holiday cookie making class, then a mixology lesson for some fun, holiday-themed cocktails, and end with an escape room. This gives people a chance to network and mingle at the beginning, share a few laughs, and then dive into friendly competition at the end.

A good rule of thumb is to plan a different event for every hour and a half of the party in order to keep it engaging. Each event doesn’t need to be an hour and a half; we’ve seen teams that use the non-event time as a regular happy hour, and take turns DJ’ing on a collaborative playlist.

2. Theme

It is completely acceptable to have a holiday party without a holiday theme! Depending on when the holiday party is scheduled, it might be too early to start thinking about the holidays, or too late in the season to the point where all of the guests have holiday fatigue.

But if you are aiming for a holiday theme, here are a few ideas to keep it on brand:

  • Mixology lessons with a holiday cocktail
  • Cooking class with a holiday-themed dish
  • Charcuterie board lesson with holiday ingredients
  • An escape room with a holiday puzzle
  • Holiday cookie making
  • Gingerbread house competitions

3. Variety

No one wants to do the “typical” team offsite for their holiday party. It has to be fun and unique! This is where Offsyte can help out - with a wide selection of events, you can be sure to find something new and engaging.

If you normally do mixology classes, find an awesome holiday-themed escape room, and vice versa. Or you can take that mixology class to the next level by including delivery and even ship the guests some company-themed glasses for their cocktails. Which brings us to the next point…

4. Delivery & Gifts

A holiday party is a perfect excuse to send gifts or goodies to elevate the experience and commemorate the year. Some virtual events have a delivery component, which makes it way easier to plan for, and far more fun for guests to unwrap something special.

When planning a virtual holiday party, keep an eye out for events that have a delivery component, or include a gift - we’ve included a few recommendations below. If the event doesn’t include a gift or delivery, you can always supplement it by purchasing holiday goodies and sending them over to arrive around the time of the party.

5. Inclusion

Last but not least, when planning your virtual holiday party, it is key to ensure that every guest feels included. This is even more critical for virtual events since all of the attention is focused in one place, as opposed to an in-person event where, for example, a guest who prefers non-alcoholic beverages could simply avoid the bar.

While there is no silver bullet for inclusion, here are some points to keep in mind when deciding on an event:

  • If alcohol is involved, are there non-alcoholic options?
  • If delivery is involved, can every guest receive packages? Does the event ship internationally?
  • If there is food involved, are there any allergies to consider?
  • Are there any guests that require additional accessibility consideration such as the use of screen readers?
  • Finally, is this something everyone is excited about?

Top 8 amazing virtual holiday party ideas

Now that you have the equipment to plan the perfect virtual holiday party, here are some of our favorite events for the holidays that you can book hassle-free directly on Offsyte. You can also find everything we have to offer on the discover page.

Blind Wine Tasting Competition (with delivery)

Blind Wine Tasting Competition (with delivery)

Test your team to see if they are truly as good at identifying wine as they say they are. This is a holiday party favorite where you’ll taste good wines and see who actually has expensive taste.

Gathering Boards 101 (with delivery)

Gathering Boards 101 (with delivery)

Learn how to make amazing, Instagram-worthy charcuterie boards using holiday themed ingredients. You can optionally include a cheeseboard as a gift for the team.

Social Distanced Mixology Class (with delivery)

Social Distanced Mixology Class (with delivery)

Learn how to make delicious cocktails and get all of the ingredients delivered. This mixology class is a real treat.

Cocktail Party Murder Mystery Game

Cocktail Party Murder Mystery Game

This escape room is a perfect holiday party option for groups that love games. It’s hosted by a team of five trained performers who will guide your players throughout the evening. You’ll have a ton of fun solving the mystery, enjoying cocktails, and mingling with co-workers.

Interactive Digital Magic Show

Interactive Digital Magic Show

Kick off, finish, or break up your holiday party with Dan’s incredible magic show. This can be a great way to chain together different events in the holiday party.

5 Ingredient Apple Galette

5 Ingredient Apple Galette

This recipe is absolutely delicious and perfect for the holidays. Your team will be learning from one of the best chefs out there.

Shackleton Great Escape from Antarctica

Shackleton Great Escape from Antarctica

A wintery-themed escape room that is perfect for any virtual holiday party.

Boba Milk Tea & Popcorn Chicken (with delivery)

Boba Milk Tea & Popcorn Chicken (with delivery)

Boba and popcorn chicken… do we need to say anything more? A great addition to any holiday party. Yum!

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Follow us on LinkedIn for more team building tips and ideas.