‘Tis the season for gathering. But between end-of-year visits with family and friends and an uptick in the global remote workforce, planning a time to celebrate with your team –– and getting your colleagues to actually attend –– can turn even the most upbeat event planner into a Scrooge.

Going virtual for your end-of-year bash can help simplify the planning process and make your holiday party more accessible. But in a world where many of our professional and social engagements happen online, we have to up our holiday party planning game to truly engage employees.

If you’re looking to kick your virtual company holiday gathering up a notch, these nine online party ideas will get your staff through that virtual door and immerse them in a truly memorable celebration.

Virtual holiday party idea #1: Eat, drink, and be merry with live culinary experiences

Give your hard-working crew the gift of happy hour.

Concoct cocktails and mocktails together from your distributed locations, following live step-by-step instructions from a professional mixologist. Sourced, Liberate Your Palate, and Fancy Sips will ship kits to your guests so they have everything they need in time for your virtual event.

Or host a wine tasting with a virtual sommelier from Chateau Feely, The Vendry, Bouchaine, or Bluemont Vineyard –– just to name a few.

Your team will appreciate this hassle-free experience that gives them room to enjoy drinks, chat with coworkers, and form bonds built to last through the season –– and into next quarter.

Want to go beyond drinks? Food is also on the table with virtual cooking classes. But avoid giving people a budget, shopping list, and trip to the grocery store. Instead, ship ingredients to attendees ahead of time by organizing the class through a company like ChefStreams.

Dreaming of something quiet and cozy? Send warm wishes with mugs of hot tea, cocoa, or cider and plan a virtual cookie-baking experience with Joy the Baker of The Bakehouse.

Virtual holiday party idea #2: Move and groove with a wellness session

Whether you’re in the office or at home, working at a desk most of the day can wreak havoc on your neck, back, and beyond. So, why not treat your team to some healthy movement with a virtual yoga session through Office Meet Yoga, YogaHub, or the pandemic’s yoga queen Adriene Mishler of Yoga with Adriene?

For a more energetic online shindig, book a virtual dance lesson with CLI Studios, Alvin Ailey, American Dance Institute, or Salsa with Silvia. The good news? Your colleagues have the option of switching off their cameras and truly dancing like no one's watching.

Virtual holiday party idea #3: Host an awards show-ho-ho

Even if your team has never seen “The Office,” you can channel your inner Michael Scott by hosting an awards show complete with an elaborate ceremony, trophies, and swag bags. Send snacks to your team beforehand, then sit back and celebrate the successes and funny moments from the year gone by. You can even surprise co-workers with shout outs from celebrity presenters via Cameo.

Virtual holiday party idea #4: Hit the right note with a karaoke and lip-syncing party

Spread some holiday cheer by organizing an end-of-year karaoke party. Employees can belt out or lip-sync all of today’s hits –– and maybe a few yuletide carols along the way. Who knew Tim from sales was more of an Adele and less of a Taylor?

Want to inject a little friendly competition? Invite team members to strut their stuff in a TV-style talent show featuring surprise guest judges. Offer a semi-final video submission round where employees can unveil their talents to colleagues who have the opportunity to vote for the competitors they think should move on. Finalists can then perform their talents live at the virtual holiday party. Complete the experience with props like karaoke microphones, costumes, and pre-delivered snacks.

Virtual holiday party idea #5: Organize a cheery gift exchange

As holiday sage Buddy the Elf once said, “There’s room for everyone on the nice list.”

Use Draw Names to plan a virtual gift exchange for your staff. The tool organizes recipients, wish lists, and surveys about individual interests and preferences.

Orchestrate the event so participants send wrapped gifts to recipients ahead of the party (with reimbursement for postage). Then have a good laugh over that shrimp neck pillow someone just opened.

Virtual holiday party idea #6: Have a very merry holiday book party 

Trying to cater to a mellow crew? Lean into Iceland’s cozy tradition, Jólabókaflóðið, where families exchange books December 24 and settle in for an evening of reading.

Your team can exchange and discuss favorite books or read the same title ahead of the gathering then participate in a stimulating virtual book club discussion.

Virtual holiday party idea #7: Hang out with cute pets in ugly sweaters 

Who doesn’t feel more alive when pets show up during virtual meetings? Add a twist to the stale ugly sweater contest by dressing your pets in their holiday best. Costume changes, props, and photo booth all encouraged.

Another animal-themed alternative? Staff from animal sanctuaries, like Sweet Farm, will join employees on video for a virtual tour of their facilities and to meet a few furry friends along the way.

Virtual holiday party idea #8: Relax as jolly couch potatoes during a watch party

Host a virtual movie night for your team. Treat them to theater snacks, popcorn, and themed swag based on the movie or TV show you’ll watch together.

You can even put the movie selection to a vote by polling attendees ahead of the event – the flick with the most votes wins. Use video or live chat, trivia, games, and other integrations within your virtual event platform to keep the commentary flowing.

Looking for a live show instead? Elevate the experience by booking a comedian and leave your team feeling relaxed and happy. 

Virtual holiday party idea #9: Play reindeer games with a team game night

Encourage healthy competition with your team during a chill (or intense) virtual trivia game show. Use Kahoot to make the entire experience interactive.

Looking for a group game like charades or Pictionary, but with a twist? Try Presentation Roulette. Draw a random topic and present on it using pre-selected slides. The trick? You can’t look at the slides beforehand. Let the games begin! 

Considerations for planning your 2021 virtual holiday party

  • Think about your goal for the party and what vibe suits your team: Do you want high-energy or relaxing? Will it be chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire chill or jingle bell rock-type action?
  • Be inclusive: Lead with empathy and think about how to accommodate team members. Maintain awareness of and sensitivity to various challenges, including cultural considerations, as well as physical, mental, financial, and geographic barriers. Consider using closed-captioning in multiple languages, look to accommodate people in different time zones, and determine whether employees’ families will be invited to participate in the festivities. When in doubt, survey your employee base ahead of time so you have a better view of potential considerations.
  • Show you care with the ultimate swag pack: If it’s part of your plan, ship food, drinks, and gifts beforehand to create a festive and hassle-free experience for your fellow revelers. Check out Sendoso for corporate gifting ideas. If you’re looking to incorporate a charitable component into your company holiday party, Hopin’s GoFundMe integration makes it easy to support worthy causes.
  • Pics or it didn’t happen: Provide guests with mementos from your virtual holiday celebration. Hopin’s Snapbar integration makes it simple to incorporate a photo booth experience into your events.
  • Check your tech: A solid technology setup eliminates event stress. Choose a high-quality event management solution to host your holiday party so you can enjoy the festivities –– rather than putting out fires.

Want to plan best-in-class events for your team? Explore Hopin’s internal events solutions to take all your company gatherings to the next level.