Christmas Party, Social Distancing Style: How to Plan an Engaging Virtual Event

The end of the year is almost here. Typically, Filipino clans would be busy organizing reunions as the kids and teens of every family prepare their song or dance performances for the Christmas party. But of course, things are starkly different now. With the risk of coronavirus still looming, there are still travel restrictions and we’re left to celebrate it in Zoom rooms.

You may not be able to do the usual Christmas party games and feast on traditional Christmas Filipino food together, but you can still pull off a fun, engaging party, social-distancing style. In fact, it’s really just about adding a virtual twist to the usual party elements.

Here’s how:

Commit to a Theme

The theme will dictate the overall mood of your celebration. It’s one of the things people vividly remember when they look back on family holidays. Your theme can be based on a particular color scheme (red and green or white and blue), a Christmas icon (Santa Claus, candy cane, or ugly sweaters), or a particular era (‘60s or ‘70s). 

Encourage everyone to commit to the theme: dress up a certain way, introduce creative online Christmas party games, or come up with a unique Zoom background for all. Make it stand out in every part of the program and preparation.

Aim for Maximum Participation

Now that the theme is set, the next big thing to decide on is the activities. The key to making it interactive is to involve as many people as possible. When brainstorming Christmas party games, keep everyone in groups so all can participate.

If you’re going for the usual games, such as the Guess the Christmas Tune, give everyone an opportunity to answer, and encourage the winning team to sing a few parts of the song to get a point. The bottom line is, give a group twist to activities so you can achieve maximum participation.

Share a Few Bites

Not physically, of course (we still want to be safe). Share traditional Filipino Christmas food by sending it via courier services. It doesn’t have to be a whole set of noche buena. It can be as simple as a tray of cookies or a bottle of wine. There’s also the option of giving food vouchers to relatives and friends and letting them order what they want. 

Whatever it is, tell your loved ones that you’ll eat (or drink) together at the virtual party. Though you’re not feasting together physically, there’s some level of sharing going on online. That makes the party more meaningful.

Exchange Gifts Before the Party

Just because we’re in quarantine doesn’t mean we can’t do Secret Santa. Start doing this weeks before the actual party. There should be one assigned leader to inform each participant of the person they picked from the lot. Then, ask everyone to share their top three gift preferences. The team leader can post the information on a group chat for everyone to see.

Have each person send their gifts via courier. On the day of the virtual party, open the gifts all at the same time and reveal who’s each one’s Secret Santa. 

Focus on Good Conversations

Seize the opportunity to start a meaningful conversation with your loved ones. Throw some icebreaker questions such as, “Where will you spend Christmas in the Philippines if there’s no pandemic?” or “What’s an unforgettable holiday gift you’ve received?”

These mellowed-down moments at your party will help people learn more about each other. It builds rapport better than sharing karaoke songs.

Send Out a Really Good E-Invite

This is one of those little things people often forget that can actually make a big difference in the success of the party. Rather than sending out a chat message ‘informing’ people about your virtual party, make it more creative. Dedicate an artwork for it. Have your talented niece make a short but engaging invitation message. 

If you can prepare an e-invite countdown a few days leading up to the party, that can help in drumming up excitement for your event. Throw in some Christmas trivia in your promotional materials to reflect the holiday theme.

Start planning your virtual Christmas party today. Make it special and let your loved ones feel the sweet spirit of togetherness in the holiday season, even with physical distancing considered.

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