2020 has thrown many people's normal holiday plans out of the window, but that doesn't mean you can't still celebrate Christmas with the people that you love. There are virtual options to make your celebration both safe and still joyous.
No matter the kind of party you have, here are a few types of parties that you can plan this holiday season and how to make them virtual events:
A Cookie Exchange
If you and your friends usually hold a cookie exchange, you can still have your party, but it will look a little different. At a traditional cookie exchange, every guest will bring a plate of cookies to share with the other guests. For a virtual event, have a set time for everyone to drop off the cookies a few days before the party. Once you have all of the cookies, create bundles while wearing a mask and gloves to prevent any contamination. On the day before or day of the party, have everyone come pick up their cookie bundles and set up a time for a video call where you can all try the cookies and catch up.
The holidays are a great time to bring out your crafty side, whether you love painting, arranging wreaths, or making homemade cards. If you would like to make your event virtual, you can create small kits with all of the craft supplies for your guests. If, for example, you're making ornaments, you can create kits with a clear glass bulb, a little bit of each paint color you have, a few paintbrushes, glitter, and ribbon. You can either drop the supplies off at everyone's homes or have them come and pick up their supplies before the party. Once again, set up a time to have a group video call so you can all do your crafts at the same time and make it feel like you are all together.
Pajama Movie Marathon.
This type of party is probably the easiest to convert to an online version as long as you have a Netflix subscription. Make sure that everyone in your group has the Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party) extension downloaded on their Google Chrome browser. You can include a link to the extension in the Google Chrome store in your e-invite to make sure that everyone has it before the party. You can stream movies or tv shows and use the chat function on the side of the screen to make comments or chat during the movie. You can also video chat while the movies are playing, but if your guests are less than tech-savvy, this may not be the best choice.
Gift Wrapping Party
This party is a great way to gather with your close friends and get something done that you would need to do anyways. For this party, just send out an e-invite to the video call platform of your choice and wrap your gifts while you are all on the call. Make sure that if you have kids whose gifts you are wrapping that they are out of the house or fast asleep so that they don't lose the magic of a Christmas morning surprise.
There are many online generators for secret Santa exchanges. You just put in the participants' emails and the website will tell each person who they are going to buy a present for. From there, agree on a budget for the gifts and a date that you want to have your video call to open the gifts. If you have an Amazon wishlist, you can send it to the group so that your secret Santa can get something from the list for you. Make sure that if you send a gift directly from an online source like Amazon that you include a gift receipt and some sort of note. Once everyone has gotten their gifts, have a video call and open them to get everyone's reactions!
Ginger Bread House Decorating
Much like the craft party, you can have little sets of supplies for this party, or you can have each person separately buy a kit from the grocery store. If you make your gingerbread by hand or want to have people pick up kits from you, arrange a time window for your guests to get their supplies within a few days of the actual party. Send out an e-invite with the link to the video call, and at that time join the call and spend some time together building gingerbread houses without the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Below are some more tips for planning your virtual Christmas celebration, regardless of its theme.
- Plan the Guest List. If you choose to host a virtual event, make sure that you check in with all of your guests to ensure they have gotten the link to whatever platform you are hosting the event on. If you are hosting a holiday Zoom, make sure that your event won't be cut off at the 40-minute mark due to large group size, and if you have guests in attendance that struggle with technology, make sure you walk them through how to set things up before the day of the party. If you are hosting a family gathering, figure out who will make the guest list and who won't. For example, should your cousin's girlfriend be included? Well, considering that on average couples date for five years before marriage, that might be your cousin-in-law one day, so maybe she should be included. However, if you're trying to keep the gathering small, just make sure that you're consistent with who you choose not to invite.
- Choose a Theme and Color Scheme. One way to streamline your party is to have decorations that center around a few colors. This especially works if you're sending out physical invitations or having guests pick up supplies packets from your home. Choosing three main colors and carrying them through the accessories you choose is a fun way to make things unified, especially if you make the decorations in the background of your call consistent with a color scheme. One of the benefits of having a virtual call is that you only have to all-out decorate one small area instead of your entire home like you would have for an in-person party.
- Make a Schedule. The schedule you'll need will differ depending on the type of party you choose to throw, but writing down everything you need to do and assigning it a date can be very helpful in the planning process. If you know that you need to send out invitations by a certain date and check RSVPs by another date, you can make sure that you get the right number of guest supply bags ready for crafts or cookie exchanges.
Choosing whether you will have an in-person party or organize a virtual get together is a new decision that 2020 has gifted us with. There are many advantages to virtual parties, like avoiding having to deal with parking. Considering the fact that the average driver wastes 17 hours on parking per year, which is equivalent to $345 in time, fuel, and emissions. With a virtual Christmas celebration you're saving your guests from even more than contracting COVID-19. We wish you a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!