Celebrating the holidays is going to look a little different this year. Don’t fret though, we've got a plan for you. It's weird to think about, but don't let it stress you out. Just know you're not alone. With a lot of questions and uncertainties, it's now more important than ever that we stick together and plan the most joyous holiday season possible.
As you know, the CDC is asking us to stay home, avoid large gatherings, and limit travel, but that doesn't mean the party stops. We're just going to lean into technology and keep the good times coming.
After all, if the internet was made for one thing, it's for connection! So, as long as there's high-speed broadband internet and home tech – no way we're missing out on spending time with our friends and loved ones.
What you're going to need is a solid game plan, and we think we’ve got you covered. Whether you're planning a family virtual gathering or orchestrating an office party for your remote workforce, here are three steps for hosting a virtual holiday party.
Every epic party starts with you making a to-do list. So, break out a notepad (or notepad app) and at the top write the name of your party and what type you're hosting. There are unlimited possibilities, like a virtual gift exchange, trivia games, or the good ole cocktail hour.
Now you need to pick a date and time, and determine how you're going to invite the people on your list. You can send invites via your email program, use an online event tool like e-vite, or create a Facebook event as a few examples. It's important to include links of where you'll be gathering online and what technology is required. Offer plenty of advanced notice and follow-up with reminders.
Now list what type of prep you'll require and get creative. Are you going to send out party packages? Will it involve gift exchanges? Games? Are you having special themes or costumes? The more you plan the more memorable it'll become.
The key to hosting a fantastic remote holiday – really just like any other holiday season – is making strong connections. And for that you'll need to get your technology in order.
First and foremost, you're going to need meeting software. Some are free and commonly accessible like Facetime and Google Hangouts, while others are more professionally driven like Slack and Microsoft Teams. Find a common denominator amongst the people in your party list – and make sure your non tech-friendly Aunt Edna is on board.
Here's a list of the some commonly used conferencing programs.
When you settle on what’s easiest for everyone to use, schedule a day to test your gear and work out any bugs or connection issues. Plan a party run-through with a remote friend and make sure things like screen sharing, presentations, and other group functions are all working as expected.
When it's time to celebrate, you'll know what to do. Regardless of what type of holiday party you're hosting, make sure there are ample ways for everyone to connect, communicate, and share in the joy of togetherness despite the virtual setting.
Here are some good ideas to help get you into the spirit:
Put your besties on call and go around the screen sharing the flavors of your favorite holiday recipes and the memories that accompany them. Extra fun if you actually bake them live in the kitchen.
Similar to the recipe swap, this is an idea that creates its own conversation. Each guest shares a favorite holiday item with the group and discusses why it's special to them. This concept requires a medium level of logistics because each guest would be required to mail out a sample of their favorite thing ahead of time.
The old holiday standby can be easily taken online. It requires a small amount of logistics because you'll have to ship your gift, but this provides more chances to use anonymity in your giving. Slip a note full of hints into your package and be sure to leave your name off the return address.
Because nothing should stop you from watching Elf for the hundredth time with your friends and family. Through a browser extension called Teleparty you can have a group holiday movie night. Choose one or two of your favorite holiday movies, pop some corn, and have a great time sharing in the nostalgia.
For gamers and non-gamers alike, there are a bunch of clever ways to host virtual gaming events. Board games like Clue, Monopoly, or Scrabble are available for group play from most app stores or you can join a group online gaming service like AirConsole for online video games.
Set a place for your laptop at the head of your dining room table and have everyone prepare their favorite holiday meal. Dress up in your holiday best and enjoy good food and great conversation and don't forget to go around the table and give thanks!
Combine one or more of the above ideas into a fun holiday get together for your remote work colleagues. There are so many creative ways you can spin an office party into a fun online activity. PowerPoint presentations can become clever holiday trivia contests with gift card prizes. Check out the website Redbubble for many other cool ideas.
There are a lot of creative ways to enjoy the holidays together with your friends, family, and coworkers virtually. It just takes a little planning and creativity to pull it off, and a strong, secure broadband connection.
Please enjoy a safe and sound holiday season and remember to get in touch if you have questions about your internet service.