How to Host a Virtual Holiday Party
A pandemic-friendly holiday party is one that is held virtually, health experts agree—but just because you can't mix and mingle in person doesn't mean that you can't have fun this holiday season. With a little creativity and preparation, you can plan a perfect digital fête you and your guests will enjoy. Here, event planners share how to host an entertaining, virtual holiday party.
Pick the right time.
Without help from babysitters and family members during the pandemic, some guests may need to work around their children's schedules in order to attend the party. It might be better to hold your virtual event in the afternoon, or after kids are in bed—think: 8:30 p.m., says Anthony Navarro, creative director at Liven It Up Events, located in Chicago and Los Angeles.
Send out digital invitations.
Because guests will need to log-in to your event, consider sending digital invitations that include login information, such the event link and password, says Navarro, who also suggests you send a reminder email on the day of the event with any additional instructions or necessary information.
Keep it small.
In-person parties often have dozens of guests. But "when it comes to a virtual event, it just seems to work better with a smaller group," says Navarro, who recommends capping your guest list at 16 to 20 people. Keeping it small "helps control over-talking one another," Navarro explains, "and really gives guests the opportunity to make connections and have impactful conversations."
Create signature cocktails.
You can still raise a glass on your screen, so consider sending out cocktail kits to guests ahead of the party; this ensures that they can mix their beverage in time for a toast, says Melanie Tindell, owner and event planner at Oak + Honey Event Planning Co. in Cleveland, Ohio. "Or, consider buying the products themselves and do a porch drop-off or mailer the week of the party," Tindell says, adding you could "include mini bottles of liquor, mixer, and fun festive glasses for the guests."
Plan an activity.
Don't limit your party to digital conversations. Plan an activity your guests can partake in: For example, you might "invite the guests to dress up and have a dance party," says Tindell. Ask guests to submit their favorite festive songs ahead of the party so that you can create a custom playlist. Another fun option is to play holiday trivia—plan to mail the winner his or her prize, as Tindell suggests.
Keep it short.
In-person parties can last hours, but the pros agree that most virtual events should be "short and sweet—an hour to two hours at max—in order to keep the guests entertained," says Tindell. Just think about it: "Since we all are working virtually, being in front of a computer for even more of an extended period of time is not what necessarily what guests are looking to do during their free time," she explains. But with these tips and the right timeframe, "there are definitely ways to make it fun!"