It’s that time of the year again, and you’re probably planning your office holiday parties. Everyone loves a good holiday party, but what happens when your team is hybrid or fully remote?
Do you give up on parties? Or do you put your creative hat on and try something completely new?
The latter, of course.
Immersive, community-building events are more important than ever since the pandemic hit and remote work became the norm. Your company culture will reap more benefits from parties during the holiday season than ever before.
People need to feel a sense of belonging and connection at the workplace, but only 38% of employees feel that their company enables them to build meaningful relationships with coworkers.
Online and hybrid events are one of the most impactful (and fun) ways to remedy that.
And we’re here to help you kick off your planning with some creative virtual holiday party ideas for work.
Table of contents
- Are virtual holiday parties a good idea?
- 9 virtual holiday party ideas for work
- 5 tips for throwing better virtual holiday parties
- Bond with your team using our virtual holiday party ideas for work
- ✅ Build a great team by screening for compatible employees
Are virtual holiday parties a good idea?
Of course! Virtual holiday parties fill a gap often present in a remote workplace.
Research shows that many employees don’t feel connected at work:
- 69% of employees aren’t satisfied with the opportunities for connection at work
- 52% of them want more connection
- 38% of people don’t trust their colleagues
Disconnected employees are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, stress, and burnout.
With hybrid and remote work becoming commonplace, social connection isn’t as spontaneous and intuitive as it was in the office.
A virtual event is one of the ways to engage remote workers and unify a hybrid team.
Here are some reasons it’s a good idea:
- Maintains a positive workplace environment: Building strong social bonds is crucial for the well-being of your workforce and helps maintain a positive workplace environment
- Connects with remote employees in new ways: While remote work tends to lack that social aspect of office work, holidays are a chance to go beyond regular Zoom meetings
- Shows appreciation to employees: Holidays are the perfect occasion to show appreciation and give gifts, which also helps retain employees
- Remote team building: Get to know your whole team better without pressure and bond over the events of the party
- Breaks monotony: Learn something new about the holiday traditions of different cultures and try activities you haven’t done (virtually) before
- Shows off your mean karaoke skills: And what’s a better time than the holiday season for that?
It all comes down to your organizational culture: Individual actions you take add up over time and send a message to employees about your company values, attitudes, and behaviors.
While the immediate benefits of a party might not seem directly correlated to your company goals and performance indicators, they can positively influence your work environment and employees’ wellness.
According to research, companies with extremely healthy cultures are 1.5x more likely to have average revenue growth of 15%.
Of course, it takes more than one party to help your employees feel a sense of belonging.
But while you wait for the results of your other efforts to compound into a healthy workplace culture, holiday games are a fun way to liven up the space instantly.
And if you’re not sure how to organize a fun virtual party, don’t worry: We’ve got your back with plenty of virtual holiday celebration ideas for work that you can customize to your organization.
9 virtual holiday party ideas for work
You can look at these ideas as inspiration or pick a favorite from our list and go with it.
We’ve included some links for specific platforms and companies offering virtual games or classes, so you can start immediately after reading this blog.
But first, here’s a quick overview of our nine virtual holiday celebration ideas for work.
|Virtual holiday party ideas for work||Key points|
|1. Play interactive video games (on theme, of course!)||Try Jackbox Games for a customizable, workplace-friendly pack fit for any group; Use Among Us for online team building (and wrecking?) experiences; Keep it appropriate, and try sticking to a theme|
|2. Send holiday gift boxes, snacks, or meals to everyone and enjoy them together||Survey employees so everyone receives food they can eat; Mail packages ahead of time; Eat or unbox together over video|
|3. Have a virtual trivia night or a pub quiz||Use Kahoot to create a quiz with custom questions and get to know each other better; TriviaMaker has holiday-themed quizzes and other pre-made options|
|4. Try a virtual karaoke night||Consider how you’ll decide on the order and which songs to play; Put a list of songs together ahead of time; Guess each others’ music taste as a bonus game|
|5. Run a gift swap or a virtual Secret Santa event||Draw names in advance; Set some ground rules like price limit or gift theme; Mail gifts in advance and unwrap them on video|
|6. Do a virtual class or hands-on workshop||Try a mixology class; Have a cheese and wine tasting; Make DIY succulent arrangements or flower arrangements together; Make candles or soap|
|7. Throw a cook-along party||Hire a chef or have an employee walk you through it; Make it holiday-themed or cultural; Ensure everyone has the required equipment and ingredients|
|8. Book a virtual holiday experience for the team||You can try a virtual escape room or a murder mystery; Another option is a paint and sip class|
|9. Play “Tradition or Not?” to learn about each other’s cultures in a fun way||Gamify learning about different cultures; Appreciate and celebrate employees from all around the globe|
Now, put your party hat on – we’re about to get festive.
1. Play interactive video games (on theme, of course!)
For this, Jackbox Games are foolproof:
- They fit any party budget
- You don’t need to go through a long and complicated tutorial to get the hang of them – the fun part starts immediately
- Customizable packs are available to fit any group and play on any device
- “Jackbox for Work” games come with automatic workplace-friendly settings
Jackbox provides a variety of fun games that let you create competitive shirt designs (Tee K.O.), come up with hilarious quips (Quiplash), draw weird pictures based on prompts (Drawful), and more.
An online version of the classic Pictionary is usually a safe bet if you want something more familiar. Make it your own with custom rules to match the theme, like drawing spooky Halloween designs only.
Alternatively, if you’ve ever played the party game Mafia, you might enjoy Among Us, which, as its creators at Innersloth call it, is the “game of teamwork and betrayal.”
Among Us is an online multiplayer social deduction game and potentially a unique way to get to know your coworkers better. Trust us – it’s the ultimate virtual team-building activity.
No matter which of these virtual holiday party games you choose, team-building fun is guaranteed.
2. Send holiday gift boxes, snacks, or meals to everyone and enjoy them together
Enjoy gifts and meals together using video conferencing.
You can pair this idea with another activity or prepare some icebreakers to avoid awkward pauses, especially if it’s the first time you’re doing a virtual office party.
Remember to prepare everything well in advance. Account for the delivery time so nobody’s package is missing during the party.
Additionally, it’s always a good idea to run a survey to scan for allergies or preferences, so you don’t unknowingly send a steak to the vegetarian on your team.
3. Have a virtual trivia night or a pub quiz
If you have a highly competitive team, a trivia night may be just the thing to make your party a blast.
Kahoot lets you make a quiz with custom questions to learn more about each other or solve puzzles together.
TriviaMaker offers pre-made holiday games for work with themed questions (holiday trivia included) and various other quizzes you can use.
Turn things up a notch and hold a game-show-type holiday event with winners getting rewards. These don’t have to be huge – for example, the winning team can get gift cards.
For unrelated topics, it’s best to talk to your employees and find common interests. There’s no point in organizing a quiz about a niche franchise that half of your colleagues haven’t even heard about.
4. Try a virtual karaoke night
Feeling musical? Consider these things for Zoom karaoke night to run smoothly:
- How to decide who sings next
- Whether to decide on songs ahead of time or spontaneously during the get-together
- What if nobody wants to go first?
- Whether your tech can support this without lagging sound or disconnections
Try to steer clear of sad songs and repetitive choruses. Throw a few holiday songs into the mix.
To stay on the safe side, ask everyone to suggest a couple of songs they would like to sing so you can discuss them with your team in advance.
Bonus game: Try to guess each others’ taste in music. There will definitely be a few surprises – like learning that the sweet, shy coworker listens exclusively to death metal. Or, you may even run an informal talent show.
5. Run a gift swap or a virtual Secret Santa event
If you’re doing Secret Santa for Christmas, set up the gift exchange far enough in advance, so you avoid last-minute shopping panic or missing gifts when it’s time to open them together.
You can use Elfster to draw the names.
Once you have your pairs, remind everyone to mail gifts early. Consider putting a price limit or setting a theme for the gifts, too.
That way, you relieve potential gift-related anxiety among employees and level the price range because significant contrasts could make things awkward.
6. Do a virtual class or hands-on workshop
Investing in experiences instead of gifts is a lovely idea for employees who value quality time – particularly remote employees who don’t get much of it in a group setting.
Plenty of companies offer virtual classes and fun workshops. For example:
- Liquid Lab offers online mixology classes (just remember to include a non-alcoholic option (e.g., mocktails) for colleagues who don’t drink)
- Event Solutions provides workshops on anything you could imagine, including cheese and wine tasting, DIY succulent arrangements, candy creations, flower arrangements, and more
These classes and workshops provide a default topic of conversation for the party and the opportunity to learn something new together.
7. Throw a cook-along party
Hire a professional to guide you or have a volunteer walk the team through the cooking process.
The recipe you choose could be themed (e.g., a gingerbread house for a Christmas party) or culture-related. The chef for the day explains the step-by-step process, everyone does their best to follow, and at the end, you enjoy your meal together.
Alternatively, hilarious cooking fails are a good way to bond with the team.
Make sure everyone has all the goodies – equipment, ingredients, and a backup meal – in case the cook-along doesn’t go as planned. Remember to accommodate team members’ dietary preferences, too.
8. Book a virtual holiday experience for the team
Design a foolproof experience with the help of a virtual entertainment specialist.
For example, you can have a murder-mystery experience with Airbnb.
Interactive Entertainment Group also offers escape room experiences, virtual holiday scavenger hunts, and other party activities.
Or, if you’d like something more artistic, channel your team’s creative energy into a paint-and-sip (or just paint) experience.
For a budget version, pick an episode of Bob Ross on YouTube and let everyone paint along, then marvel at your happy little rocks and trees together.
Naturally, you have to put your masterpieces on display.
9. Play “Tradition or Not?” to learn about each other’s cultures in a fun way
“Tradition or Not?” is a fun way to appreciate coworkers from all over the world.
This is how it works:
- One person describes a real or fake holiday tradition from a prompt
- The other players raise a hand if they believe it’s real
- You reveal the results
- Have fun discussing the traditions and the reasoning behind your decisions
You could discover multiple versions of the same holiday, holidays you’ve never heard of, and unique traditions in which your coworkers might participate.
You also get a glimpse of your colleagues’ thought processes – gamification makes learning more engaging.
Plus, you’re more likely to remember what you learned if it’s attached to a hilarious memory from a party due to a cognitive bias called the “humor effect.”
5 tips for throwing better virtual holiday parties
Now that ideas are flowing and you’re ready to plan the best party ever, we want to discuss some common pitfalls that could ruin the fun.
Below are some guidelines to help things run smoothly and make the most of your party:
- Check the time zones before booking anything
- Think about your team and their personalities before deciding on your idea
- Prepare way ahead to ensure any equipment or gifts arrive on time
- Use the parties to learn more about others’ cultures and holidays
- Make sure your parties are inclusive and that no one feels left out
1. Check the time zones before booking anything
No one is going to be cheery at 5 am.
If your team is small, it might be possible to find a time that suits everyone.
For larger hybrid companies, it might be worth doing split events or rotating the time of events so as many people as possible can join from around the globe.
Run a countdown clock to the party to get everyone excited and keep them in the loop.
Remember to check your tech setup ahead of time, too. It won’t be fun if people cut in and out of the party.
2. Think about your team and their personalities before deciding on your idea
It doesn’t have to be a guessing game.
Why not run a poll to gather feedback and votes?
You can also do personality tests and talk about your results. For example:
- The 16 Types test can show you what drives a person and how they connect to the world so you can understand their nature and preferences better
- The Enneagram test reveals a person’s core beliefs and worldviews and the role they often play in relation to others
Our innate traits influence our interpersonal dynamics and collaboration with others, so it’s worth figuring out how they play out in the workplace.
For your party, knowing that you have a lot of methodical and analytical thinkers vs. free-spirited creatives or a majority of introverts vs. extroverts can help you decide what sort of event to create.
3. Prepare way ahead to make sure any equipment or gifts arrive on time
For bigger teams, one month before the party might already be a tight window to organize and prepare everything.
For example, if you’re doing Secret Santa, people need to come up with gift ideas, then buy, pack, and mail them in time for the event.
You could organize drawing names right after Halloween to give everyone enough time to prepare.
Planning ahead of time will ensure you have a lot of options, no matter how elaborate and ambitious your party might be.
4. Use the parties to learn more about others’ cultures and holidays
Lean into the beauty of a diverse workforce.
The point of the party is to connect your employees, build stronger relationships, and make sure everyone, remote or not, feels a sense of belonging. So, don’t limit yourself to a Christmas theme – consider Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, too, for example.
It’s not just about blowing off steam and having a laugh (although that helps, too).
Expressing curiosity about their traditions shows your employees you appreciate them, accept their differences, and value their unique perspectives.
5. Make sure your parties are inclusive and don’t make anyone feel left out
To create a truly inclusive party atmosphere, you need to do some prior research, thoughtfully use what you know about your employees, and ensure they all know you’re open to feedback and suggestions.
Here are some examples of how you could be inclusive:
|1. Tell people what to expect ahead of time||Avoid making anyone anxious and let them prepare if needed|
|2. Give team members a chance to provide feedback||Maybe an idea won’t work for them, or they need an accommodation – for example, if a team member doesn’t drink, a virtual happy hour may not be the best idea|
|3. Make sure everybody is comfortable and not feeling pressured to participate||This is supposed to be fun and relaxing, not a mandatory work event – articulate that clearly in your messages and announcements|
|4. Create themed break rooms||Avoid overstimulation by allowing for smaller groups to connect|
|5. Think digital first if you’re throwing a hybrid party||Everyone can attend digitally, but not everyone can come in person|
Inclusivity doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it yields massive returns in terms of employee well-being and loyalty to the company, not to mention not dampening the holiday spirit.
Who wouldn’t want to stay in an organization where they feel valued?
Bond with your team using our virtual holiday party ideas for work
Trying some virtual holiday celebration ideas for work allows you to form stronger relationships with colleagues, some of whom have likely only seen each other’s faces on Slack profile pictures.
It’s no secret that employees who feel connected to their team and are satisfied at work perform better.
But a virtual party is only the festive start.
To build a thriving company culture long-term, you have to find and hire the right people to co-create it with you.
A Culture Add test could help you identify them.
Learn more about using tests to evaluate candidates and improving the quality of your hires on our blog.
- Wahid, Natasha. (January 19, 2022). “New research: Closing the employee connection gap must be a 2022 priority”. Blueboard. Retrieved November 10, 2022. https://www.blueboard.com/blog/employee-connection-research-2022