As we dive head-first into the holiday season, we need no reminder that this year will be very different in many ways. While we continue to do our part in staying safe and healthy, we find ourselves searching for ways to stay connected with our loved ones during this unprecedented time, when human connection is valued now more than ever.

The go-to communication method nowadays are video conferencing apps, such as Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime. Whether you’re planning a holiday happy hour with your coworkers or a festive game night with your family, we have 10 ways to make any virtual holiday party the most wonderful time of the year.

1. Spotify playlist

While preparing for your virtual get-together, send out a collaborative Spotify playlist for your guests to add to so everyone’s favorite holiday tunes can be heard. Once you are on your video call, use Spotify’s Group Session feature to have everyone stream the playlist simultaneously.

Check out our DoubleShot Creative Holiday Playlist from last year for inspiration. Happy listening!

2. Virtual tasting party

Whether it’s cheese, wine, or coffee, you can’t go wrong with a tasting party. With social distancing laws in place, you may not be able to have these parties in-person, but thanks to Zoom, you can easily throw a fun virtual tasting party for all your fellow foodies. Check out these companies who specialize in safely providing an enjoyable tasting experience:

Open Door Tea: This company will send your party their own tea samples to try while learning about brewing techniques, health benefits, tips on storing, blending, and everything else surrounding the world of tea.

The Sommelier Company: Book an immersive experience where an expert will organize virtual wine, beer, whiskey, or tequila tastings for your party.

Mongers’ Provisions: Calling all cheese-lovers! From cheese to wine pairings, this company will provide you with a unique tasting filled with delicious food and good virtual company.

3. White Elephant

Put your own spin on this classic Christmas gift exchange game by hosting it virtually. Traditionally, you would all gather together and each take a turn opening gifts, with the option to trade or keep whatever gift you opened. To host a safe gift exchange from afar, each participant will wrap a gift and present it during the Zoom call. After choosing a picking order, each virtual partygoer will take turns choosing a gift to open. The participant who wrapped the gift will unwrap it on camera and the chooser can decide whether to keep or exchange with someone else. The host will then keep track of who got which gift and at the end, the gifts are mailed out to their respective owners.

For more ideas, take a look at this guide to hosting a virtual white elephant gift exchange from TeamBuilding.

4. Holiday watch party

During this turbulent year, streaming watch parties have become a popular way to connect with loved ones while enjoying a beloved movie or TV show together. Online streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have their own version of a virtual “watch party” where you can invite your friends and family to view your favorite holiday film and chat throughout, as if you were really together.

Wired put together a great roundup of how to host a virtual watch party with helpful tips and tricks for different streaming services.

5. Cookie decorating party

Who doesn’t love holiday baking? A virtual cookie decorating party is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit with your loved ones while enjoying yummy treats. If you’re set to host the Zoom call, send out a simple sugar cookie recipe to all the participants a few days before so everyone has time to purchase the ingredients and bake their cookies. If you want to go the extra mile, you could prepare decorating kits that you drop off a few days in advance with fun cookie cutter shapes, colorful icing, and festive sprinkles.

As the holidays can be quite stressful, you might not be inclined to prepare all the ingredients in advance. Fortunately, there are companies who specialize in virtual pastry decorating. Edible Impressions provides custom designed cookie decorating kits along with a virtual decorating experience, led by Annette Conrad, Owner & Lead Decorator. For the cake and cupcake lovers, Sweetology offers virtual cake decoration classes that will elevate any holiday Zoom party.

6. Hanukkah Festival of Lights

For those who celebrate Hanukkah, decorate your video chat space with a collection of the shiniest lights you can find. Ask guests to do the same and enjoy each other’s virtual company while celebrating the Festival of Lights.

Here are some ways people plan on celebrating Hanukkah this year, whether it be socially distanced or virtual.

7. Progressive holiday story creation

Have you ever played this game when you were young? Progressive storytelling is a fun and creative activity for all ages to enjoy. During your Zoom call, everyone brings their favorite holiday story based on a theme: Christmas Eve, Dreidel, Kwanzaa traditions etc. Each person is given a number and they pick two sentences from their favorite holiday story to read out loud. The sentences are then combined to create a custom story to share with your friends and family.

Check out these story starters for inspiration.

8. Holiday scavenger hunt

Enjoy a holiday-themed scavenger hunt from the comfort of your own home. The host will come up with a list of common household items to retrieve. Participants will have to find the items in their home and show them to the Zoom call. Whoever completes the list first, wins.

If you don’t have the time or resources to plan a scavenger hunt, DFW Scavenger Hunt is a company that can provide fun games and challenges perfect for any remote holiday get-together.

9. Virtual painting party

Did you know painting can promote stress relief? We all could use a little relaxing painting session, especially during this stressful time of the year. Host your own painting party by displaying a holiday image on your Zoom screen so everyone can paint it. Before you start, make sure all your participants have the tools needed for painting by sending out a list beforehand, creating mini kits for everyone, or using a virtual painting party company to assist your remote gathering. Afterward, everyone can share their masterpieces with the video chat. 

10. Virtual game night

If you’re looking for something more on the competitive side, try hosting a virtual game night. While traditional board games may be more difficult to play virtually, there is no shortage of online group games to discover.

Here’s our list of ways to play virtual games at your next holiday Zoom party:

  1. Geeks Who Drink
  2. Jackbox Games
  3. Houseparty
  4. Playing Cards
  5. Heads Up

The holiday season can bring endless joy and laughter to some, but can also be an extremely difficult time of the year, especially during these challenging times. Regardless of what your holiday plans are, remember to stay safe and take care of your mental health.

From all of us at DoubleShot Creative, we wish you a very Happy Holiday season! Leave us a comment if you try any of these holiday party ideas.