Two families watch the same movie over Zoom video. The image shows each group in their own home with the image split down the middle
Two families watch the same movie over Zoom video. The image shows each group in their own home with the image split down the middle

Just because the situation outside is frightful doesn’t mean the holiday season can’t still be delightful. But we know you might be tired of the same old Zoom call with friends and family, so we’ve rounded up 10 Christmas party ideas you can use to make a virtual holiday event feel extra special. A little creative thinking can go a long way—especially when you physically can’t.

1Arrange to co-watch a movie marathon.

Whether you choose to mix and match holiday classics or watch an entire movie franchise like Star Wars or Harry Potter, a movie marathon is a cinch to adapt to online viewing. Use a party plugin like Scener or Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party) to watch and chat onscreen with your friends and family or, if the plugin acts glitchy, hit play at roughly the same time and set up a group chat to text while you watch.

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Tip: Make a Snack Pack
Send packages of snacks out to your co-watching squad. Microwave popcorn and flavour shakers are must-haves.

2Plan a virtual trivia night.

Setting up a video chat with friends is a great way to connect, but it can lose energy quickly. To keep up the momentum, use an app like Kahoot! to make up your own themed quizzes, or one like Houseparty where questions are pre-programmed.

3Take your cookie exchange online.

Have each participant sign up for a type of cookie and, at a designated time, bake together on a video call. Then ask each person to divvy up and safely package their batches and porch-drop them to the other members of the exchange.

A socially distant baking session with just one other person—a grandparent, a faraway bestie—is also a ton of fun. Select a recipe to make at the same time and pretend you’re in the same kitchen.

Print, Email or Pin these yummy holiday cookie recipes

Printable recipe cards for snowflake cookies and gingerbread cookies

4Bond over a board game.

Yes, board games usually demand an IRL situation but hear us out: Two-player games can easily be enjoyed virtually as long as both players have the same model. Boards with numbered spaces like chess work well, as do games like Battleship or Guess Who?, where the playing boards and game pieces are consistent. It can take some trial and error, but eventually you’ll be able to add virtual board game nights to your socially distant social calendar.

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Tip: Gift the Games
Order a couple of games that you already own and have them shipped directly to your loved one so you can start playing ASAP.

5Take a virtual visit to the North Pole.

With malls closed or operating in limited capacity, an in-person visit with Santa is unlikely to happen this year. But that doesn’t mean your kiddos have to miss out on an opportunity to chat with the man in red. Many businesses now offer virtual visits with Santa—on a tiered price plan with options for pictures and adding friends and family to the video call—so kids can still experience one of the season’s magical moments. Check out services like Portable North Pole or Virtual Santa Canada to learn more.

6Hold a connected cocktail hour.

Festive after-work drinks are a staple of the holiday season. Good news: You can still enjoy a virtual tipple with friends, neighbours and colleagues this year. Send out an invite with a couple of simple cocktail or mocktail recipes attached and suggest your participants mix their own before joining the video call.

Print, Email or Pin these festive drink recipes (add booze if you choose!)

Printable recipes for brandy eggnog, berry punch and peppermint mochas

7Set up a co-play scavenger hunt.

An in-person scavenger hunt isn’t recommended this year, but you can still create a fun, festive activity for the kids in your life. Send out a set of clues to other families using common rooms, appliances and house fixtures as the basis for hints. After all the parents have set up the game in their households, give the first clue over video and send the kids running for the next one.

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Tip: Wrap Up with Takeout
Make the last clue related to a favourite takeout option and send dinner as the prize. If you have your own brood at home, let each set of kids decipher the clues together and then have a virtual dinner party to close out the fun.

8Create Secret Santa mailers.

If any festive tradition was made for social distancing, it’s Secret Santa. Collect the names of everyone who wishes to participate and either write them out on slips of paper or load them into a name-drawing website. Once everyone is matched up, send each participant the name of the person they’re buying for, as well as their mailing address, the price limit and a date for when gifts should be received. Book a video call so everyone can open their Secret Santa gifts together.

9Host a holiday reading.

Storytime is a beloved tradition in many houses, and it’s also a perfect way to connect with other families. Start by selecting a book that’s appropriate for the participants. For younger kids, you’ll want a picture book or holiday classic. For teens, try a trendy chapter book. Each person or household should have the book on hand in order to take turns reading a page or chapter.

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Tip: Make It a Regular Event
Choose a longer book or a classic series and set a nightly call with the group.

10Share recipes for a virtual holiday dinner.

Of course you’ll miss having your loved ones around the table, but you can still capture some of the happiness of a big family dinner. Have everyone who usually attends the holiday party agree on a menu and share the recipes with one another. Then, at dinnertime on the big day, sign into a scheduled video call so you can enjoy the same dishes, at the same time, together.

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Tip: Fill Your Space with Laughter
Set up a projector and project the call onto your dining room or kitchen wall so it feels like a warm, bustling room full of people.

Virtual Christmas Party Must-Haves

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