This year’s holiday celebration may be on Zoom—here’s how to host a satisfying virtual party

an ornament sits on a keyboard symbolizing some virtual holiday party ideas
Photo via Theo Crazzolara/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Given the anticipated spike in coronavirus cases resulting from a Thanksgiving travel boom, now might be a good time to consider a remote holiday party. And if you are having a virtual holiday party this December, you need some ideas for how to have a good time when you’re in a room by yourself with only a laptop or a tablet. 

Aside from spending time with loved ones without sharing space— a necessity for large gatherings of people from different households, according to the CDC—and using virtual means such as Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or other virtual platforms to do so, there are some things to consider that could make it feel less like a conference call and more like a party

Here are some virtual holiday party ideas to try if you’re still locking down in the last month of 2020. 

Slideshow presentations

While they may be more popular among students, creating a presentation to share your 2020 with family and friends using a video conference software that supports screen sharing can be just as fun as hearing the stories in person. Whether following a theme, such as “What I did this year,” or just sharing all of your favorite 2020 memes, this activity can serve as a fun educational experience—or a way to share special interests like new quarantine hobbies.

Simulcast a holiday movie or five

The tradition of a holiday movie party can still live on in the time of coronavirus. Thanks to Netflix Party, Zoom, Kast, and Prime Video Watch Party, a simple download or link can have you and yours laughing at the antics of dozens of different Santas. While Netflix Party and Prime Video Watch Party work best for those platforms, YouTube can be easily watched over Kast and Zoom. Kast and Zoom require software downloads, while Netflix Party and Prime Video Watch Party are browser-based and exclusive to those platforms. 

Party games

Old school games such as Battleship, Pictionary, and Yahtzee can still be played over any video conference as long as all members have their own copy. For those who want a party without physical game items (read: free), think 20 Questions, Most Likely To, and different sorts of trivia. 

Video games

For the more technologically inclined group, there are multiple video games that can be played simultaneously. One such game, Among Us, has become very popular. Similar to Mafia, one player is the killer, and the other players have to deduce which one of them holds that title while carrying out duties and having crew meetings. Any MMORPG, or online roleplaying game, would also work. Whether it’s The Elder Scrolls or League of Legends, there are endless ways to have a holiday game session as a family or friend group.

Safe food swap

If the best part of your family holiday tradition is the food—and if everyone is somewhat local—a food swap could be the perfect solution. In a food swap, everyone prepares one dish, portions it out into individual containers, and safely delivers it to participants’ houses, such as on the porch or in the driveway. Hopping on a conference call could be optional, as a holiday meal is shared either way. 

However you celebrate the holidays, it’s probably not safe to do so with lots of family and friends. For 2020 at least, these kinds of creative ideas for a virtual holiday party could provide the social-distancing fun that will keep everyone safe and hopefully allow everybody to be together in person in 2021.

Sources: CDC, Fast Company, BustleNew York Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Innersloth, National Institutes of Health, Netflix Party, Kast, Zoom, Prime Watch Party

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