2020 has definitely been a year of change, but that change has not been all bad. When I realized I wouldn’t be able to gather with friends for our annual holiday party I was bummed. But fortunately, a friend posed the idea of having this celebration virtual and when we started to share potential ideas, it didn’t sound so bad. In fact, it has been quite exciting planning this event. I took on the role of host and have been in full party mode. Here’s how you can host your very own virtual holiday soiree - with and without kids!
The first step is always planning. If you’re lucky like me you’ll have a couple of buddies who can help you plan to divide some of the tasks. Though it may seem less involved, hosting a virtual event can actually require more effort if you’re trying to engage guests in a similar way to an in person event. Keep reading - you’ll see.
Plan to send the evite about 4 weeks prior to the event. Evite has an awesome poll attached to the evite so it made it easy to survey the guests about participating in the purchase of shared decorations on one platform (you can view who provided which response). Also, you can add the virtual party link to the invitation or use Evite’s new virtual party platform.
Planning this event includes identifying a list of activities, the leader/facilitator of each activity (the host will take on most responsibilities but try to delegate a few tasks as the variety keeps up the mystery and engagement, and gives the host a break), schedule, time frame for completing prep work e.g., invitation, communication about activities). My two friends and I decided on the below 6 party ideas.
This annual holiday friend soiree has been traditionally adults - yes we commit to taking this time! Now, with COVID-19 it’s unrealistic to expect kids out of the house, so I included specific ways this party can be adapted for the whole family.
6 Ways to soiree virtually this holiday - the next best thing to an in person party!
1. Shared Cocktail
The host will send a cocktail recipe for all guests to enjoy. (Of course it is optional but adds to the shared fun to have the same drink.) I recommend including a nonalcoholic as well as an alcoholic version of the drink.
Here’s a simple & festive champagne recipe we call Adorn Bubbly:
Take Apple Cider (sparkling or not) and mix with your favorite champagne. Then add 2-3 dried apple slices and cinnamon for garnish and flavor. Enjoy!
Check out Adorn’s Pinterest page, “Holiday Parties” & “Party Food & Drink boards for more fun & tasty holiday drink ideas.
A kid favorite drink is hot cocoa. Also I think it would be fun to have the same menu for the kids or at least 1 of the same food items like a Pretzel Peanut Butter Rudolph. The kids can even make this together at the virtual hangout.
In addition to festive music playing in the background, the guests can have a sing along. The sing along we planned involves choosing a Christmas song (e.g., Jingle Bells) in which everyone has a line or two to sing, and then we sing the song acapella and try to hold in the laughs as we attempt to harmonize. Let everyone know the song ahead of time, but keep the lines a mystery for more fun and laughs:)
3. Shared Decor
This unique idea by one of Adorn’s guest bloggers (blog “7 Halloween Eats & Treats”), Anna, really creates a great social vibe virtually. So basically each guest purchases the same partyware and decorates their space to be visible on camera during the party. We purchased an Adorn party bundle and split them among the guests who participated in the shared decorations. The Pop Champagne collection was the perfect pick for this soiree as there are so many festive party items sure to “pop” on screen, and it was so convenient that each guest didn’t have to shop around. Now, this is where prep work for the host comes into play, though.
As the host I packaged and delivered the supplies to each family. This holiday package delivery also included a favor for each guest, which the host typically provides at our annual holiday party. It is good to plan a delivery of the party supplies 1-2 weeks before the party. Also, in addition to sending the drink recipe virtually I included a printed copy for each guest in the party package, with a drink garnish to really add to bring out the holiday spirit.
Kids and adults alike are sure to enjoy the sparkling Pop Champagne party, but if you want a more playful celebration - How awesome would it be to have a winter camping themed party? The Adorn Happy Camper party bundle fits perfectly. The kids can make s’mores at the same time in their own homes. These decorations and treats are sure to put a smile on everyone’s faces.
What’s a party without games? Not much more than a meeting in my opinion. There are so many virtual games being shared now. Keeping with my usual party planning motto - simple & fun, I decided to go with Christmas Charades and Word Scramble. For Word scramble you can find a template with a quick internet search or you can create your own list and use word scramble websites (https://www.education.com/worksheet-generator/reading/word-scramble or https://www.wordunscrambler.net/word-scrambler.aspx) to scramble the words for you. As the host you would share your screen with the scrambled words, and it usually works best to set a time frame that is reasonable to guess the words and then when the time is up see who guessed the most words correctly. Guests can write answers on paper, type in chat to the host only or you can create a Microsoft Form or Google form quiz; just put the link in the chat box and check the responses submitted on the form at the end of the time allotted.
A food and costume contest for added fun! You can choose a Gingerbread house contest, to be decorated at the party or beforehand (we went with before to maximize social time).
Another option is a decorated sugar cookie contest. Lastly, we had to keep the traditional costume contest, but with the virtual twist so the contest is for festive wear from the neck up - scarves, ties, masks, hats, face paint.
All voting takes place in the virtual chat - guests are to type their answers to the host in private. The host will count up the responses and announce the winners. Keeping with our tradition of prizes for contests I planned virtual prizes - gift cards sent via email within a couple of days after the party. You can probably mail out small prizes too, but remember the motto - simple is the way to go. Added stress means less fun, and a party should be 100% fun.
6. Gift exchange
The last activity on the virtual party schedule is the gift exchange. For simplicity, we had a Secret Santa exchange as opposed to the usual White Elephant (though there are some websites that make virtual White Elephant possible: http://www.secretsanta.com and https://www.whiteelephantonline.com). To give the host a break, allow another guest to facilitate this part. Our facilitator used Elfster - this platform allows the host/facilitator to input all guidelines including the gift amount and all guest information (names and emails). Elfster matches the guests anonymously so even the facilitator is surprised by their Secret Santa, and sends out an individual email to each person. Another nice feature of this app is a wishlist and guest address information so that the Santas can plan for on time arrival.
Plan to send the email notice 3-4 weeks before the event. If you plan early, you can have each guest do a wishlist of 3 items. I find it’s more fair to do a price range instead of a limit/maximum, so the range we chose is $20-25. You can do this amount per person/couple or choose a larger amount per family like $25-$50. This gift exchange is the perfect closing activity to the virtual party.
Check out the below party schedules you can use or create your own.
Virtual party schedule sample for Adults:
5-5:30pm: Greetings, showing of each guests’ food, drinks & decor
5:30-6:25pm: 2 Games
(5 min break - bathroom, get gingerbread houses ready to show)
6:30-6:50pm: Gingerbread contest (showing of each house and voting)
6:50-7:10pm: Sing along
(5 min break)
7:15-7:35pm: Festive wear contest
7:35-7:55pm: Gift exchange - opening of gifts
7:55-8pm: Closing comments & toast
Virtual party schedule sample for the whole family:
5-5:15pm: Greetings, showing of each guests’ food, festive wear, drinks & decor
5:30-5:55pm: Christmas Scavenger Hunt
(5 min break - bathroom, get gingerbread houses ready to show)
6-6:15pm: Gingerbread contest, making S’mores, or Cookie decorating
(5 min break)
6:20-6:40pm: Eating & talking
6:40-6:55pm: Gift exchange - opening of gifts
6:55-7pm: Cocoa cheers and goodbyes
Whether you’re having adult time or celebrating with the whole family there is definitely some virtual fun to be had this holiday! These are such different times - an opportunity to be creative and try something new with parties. We would love to see what you come up with. Share your ideas or party pics with us. DM us on IG or FB @adorncelebration for a chance to be featured by Adorn, on the website and/or social media.