It’s likely that in many of our homes, the holidays will look a bit different this year. Though, that doesn’t mean they can’t be filled with a lot of cheer and happy memories shared.

Even though you may not be piling into the car to head to Grandma’s house this year, you can still celebrate from afar. Whether you’re playing host or want a few ideas to bring to the virtual table as a guest, here’s how to make sure your online celebration is a hit.

Get the invite right!

Rather than sending out a group email or text, invite your guests with a virtual invitation. There are a lot of festive designs to use on the website called Punchbowl. Just make sure to filter by “free designs.” Make your virtual hosting link in advance, so you can include the link in your invitation. Add in any themes, dress codes or recommended recipes/drinks for the occasion.

Dress to impress. 

We’d say a large majority of your party guests have worn PJs for about 75% of 2020. Give everyone a reason to get out of their yoga pants and hoodies. Choose a theme for your online gathering, such as ugly sweaters or “holiday best” attire. Seeing your friends and family dressed for the occasion will make your video call feel more festive and engaging.

Use conversation starters. 

One thing we learned this year is that awkward moments can still exist via Zoom. Use conversation starters to ensure that your Aunt Maggie doesn’t talk about how incredible Suzy and Jake are at remote gymnastics the whole time. We’ve put together this conversation starter sheet that you can use for question ideas. Have the host answer the first question and then choose which guest will get the next question. After answering, each guest will choose the person who answers next. Continue until everyone has had a turn to share! 

Do a virtual gift exchange. 

What’s a party without its main event? Your family’s white elephant tradition can still continue via Zoom. Consider playing with electronic gift cards instead of physical gifts. Have everyone select a number, as you typically do. Rather than selecting a gift, your guest will select another guest. The guest they have selected will reveal which electronic gift card they’ve chosen to gift to them. Keep track of who opened which gift card in the chat box, so other guests can still trade/steal. Once the party is over, everyone can email their electronic gift cards to each winner. 

Yeah, it’s not the same as opening an ice cream maker that nobody wants, but at least it’s something! Plus, there are so many different gift cards to choose from… Starbucks, Amazon, Netflix, Disney+, Barnes & Noble… the options are endless! (And the “steal rate” will probably be higher than ever!) 

Get creative with unused travel expenses. 

If you’re having a virtual celebration, consider giving back with the money saved from travel expenses this year. From saving on plane tickets to gas, your family can tally up how much you’d like to contribute forward.

Before your party, have each family member offer a charity of their choice. Write down each option on separate pieces of paper and place them in a jar. During your call together, you can draw the winning charity that will receive the extra holiday gift this year on behalf of your family.

These are just a few ways to make your online celebration feel full and meaningful. We hope your party from afar still brings the hearts in your family close!

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