Return of the Christmas Virtual Office Party Humbug

woman opening a Christmas present

The Christmas office party is a big event for companies large and small. It’s a chance for co-workers and teams to come together and embrace the Christmas spirit while celebrating the year of work. It’s an opportunity for organizations to give back to their employees and show they are appreciated.

As we arrive at the second Christmas of the pandemic with the new variant of COVID-19 – Omicron – spreading rapidly, the advice is to work from home. So, what does this mean for the Christmas party?

Can Virtual Christmas Parties be as Good as In-Person Events?

Virtual office parties are, of course, never going to be quite the same as in-person events. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be just as fun and engaging. What is lost with virtual events is those spontaneous, intimate, one-on-one conversations and relationship-building opportunities that occur when mingling at a party. It’s not possible to physically toast glasses, pull crackers, or exchange gifts at the moment.

However, with some careful planning and creativity, virtual events can bring benefits of their own which may not be possible with in-person parties. Virtual events are often better thought out, with carefully structured activities designed to compensate for the lack of in-person connection and to suit the platforms being used.

Many elements of in-person parties can be brought into the virtual experience, so all is not lost. That may include food and drink as well as conversation, entertainment, games, and activities.

Team-building is often enhanced with virtual events simply because everyone is engaged on the same platform, in the same activities at the same time. Depending on the style of party that occurs in person, this does not always happen. Where large parties are held, people often remain with their immediate team members or those they are already acquainted with for the entire event, forgoing the opportunity to mix with others working in the wider organization.

In contrast, a virtual event can provide the opportunity for people to more easily interact with, and get to know, people they wouldn’t normally speak with at work, such as those working in other departments or at different levels of the company hierarchy.

Top Tips for Virtual Parties

The good thing about virtual office parties of 2021 is that is they should be much easier than ever before, both in terms of planning and ensuring everyone is engaged and on board with the idea. Over the past few years, we have all gotten used to virtual technology for both work and everyday interactions during the pandemic. In the past, people may have shied away from virtual events or turned their nose up at them, but these days it has become the norm.

That being said, there is still some careful planning required to ensure that the virtual Christmas office party does not feel like yet another Teams meeting – albeit with a glass of wine in hand!

Consider what platform will be used (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Meets, etc.) and check how many people can attend, the permitted duration, and tools available on your chosen application. Make sure you have everything set up ahead of time to ensure it all goes smoothly, checking for technical glitches and setting up supporting devices. Arrange for tech support to be on-hand to resolve any issues should they arise.

Be sure to send invites and reminders ahead of time. Plan fun and engaging activities that people will enjoy or consider arranging entertainment. Some companies like to opt for a theme or dress code as this can be fun and differentiate the event from a standard work meeting.

Perhaps consider asking your employees to complete a survey before the event to indicate what type of activities or entertainment they would most enjoy. This will help to avoid any awkwardness on the day if people don’t engage well with your planned activities. Situations like this can be magnified online, where there is no bar or anywhere to escape to, so be sure to avoid them if possible by planning activities that suit the interests of your workforce.

Some organizations, especially larger ones with many employees to entertain, decide to get professional assistance with their virtual event planning. Virtual events planners can help you design a virtual Christmas party to remember, with plenty of creative activities and elements that people will enjoy.

Top Tools and Ideas for a Successful Virtual Party

Virtual parties do not have to be boring. Creative activity planning can help you design an event that will be remembered for years to come.

It’s a good idea to prepare party boxes in advance and distribute them to employees ahead of schedule. These may include food and drink to make the event catered, as it would likely be with an in-person event. If you provide food and beverages, be sure to cater to any allergies and/or dietary needs of individuals, such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, nut allergies, etc.

You can also provide equipment such as Christmas crackers, party hats, game resources, and templates. This way people can engage with any activities you have planned in a physical way. Perhaps plan to do a Secret Santa ahead of the day and provide the gifts, along with any company gifts or Christmas cards in named party boxes. These can then be opened during the event as a scheduled activity.

There are many virtual party games and activity ideas online, and a quick Google search will bring up lots of inspiration.

However, here are a few easy ideas to get you started:

Virtual Christmas People Bingo

People bingo is a game in which each individual has a bingo card, in which the squares say something which would relate to a person. The game requires individuals to talk to one another or find people who match the statements on the card. You can create your own bingo cards or find a template for free online. If creating your own, consider adding statements such as: someone who is wearing a Santa hat, someone who has a birthday in December, someone who has a Christmas tree in the background, etc.

Christmas Quiz

A simple Christmas-themed quiz is a great idea that is easy to plan and can be engaging for everyone. You can find quiz questions online easily or make some of your own. Think of questions for different categories such as Christmas music, food, drink, TV, etc. Perhaps offer a prize, such as a gift card or bottle of champagne, for the winner.

Christmas Karaoke or Singsong

Depending on the characters working in your company, singing could be a big hit or a big turn-off, so be sure to check beforehand if you want to plan this type of activity. You could either prepare some lyrics sheets and have everyone sing along together to Christmas songs or run a karaoke-style event, where people nominate themselves in advance for certain songs. All can enjoy the latter as some people who don’t fancy singing can enjoy the entertainment of others without feeling obliged to sing themselves.

Your virtual Christmas party will go much smoother if you nominate a party host. This person will be responsible for running all of the activities, motivating people, and starting conversations if needed. Choose some who is well known and liked, or has a charismatic or charming personality, for this role as they could potentially make or break the event!

Consider your virtual party to be an important team-building event and design it accordingly. Don’t leave things to chance, and be sure to have plenty of fun activities planned. With some creative thinking and a little planning, there’s no reason why your online event can’t be just as fun as a conventional Christmas office party.


Cloudbooking’s workspace technologies can help to facilitate a safe working environment for all employees during these uncertain times. Contact us now for a no-obligation product demo.


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