Zoom, baby: How to host a memorable holiday celebration online

Zoom, baby: How to host a memorable holiday celebration online | Twin Cities Mom Collective

I’ll be home for Christmas… Hearing this song lyric in 2020, these words evoke completely different emotions than in prior years. Home is where we have been for the past nine months, and it’s where we’ll continue to be for a bit longer. Whether in part or in full, many of us will choose to spend the holidays at home this year.

While in-person gatherings may be limited this holiday season, we can still celebrate together virtually. I know, I know. Celebrating the holidays with yet another video call is the last option most of us would choose. But with a bit of planning, you can transform a standard online gathering into something magical. All you need is some resourcefulness, imagination and a strong internet connection.

Below is my list of ideas for how to host virtual holiday celebrations that family and friends will not only enjoy but fondly look back on for years to come.

Holiday spirit 

Set the stage for virtual holiday fun by creating a festive mood for your gathering.
  • Get in the spirit by designating a dress code for the party. Have an ugly sweater contest, dress in your holiday best, wear red or green, sport fun holiday hats or be cozy in your pajamas.
  • Upload a unique background to add some holiday spirit to your video display. With a quick Google search, you can find a plethora of fun holiday backgrounds to use.
  • Add some whimsy to the party with photo booth props. In addition to the standard party package, you can purchase Christmas or ugly sweater themed kits.

Food & drink

Every party needs good food and tasty drinks. With some planning and creativity, your virtual gathering can have both of these key ingredients.
  • Coordinate a socially distanced cookie exchange. If you live close to one another, each family can bake cookies and drop off the treats at each other’s houses. Alternatively, you can swap favorite cookie recipes or bake tasty cookies together during the event.
  • Similar to the cookie exchange, you can also host a virtual potluck. Instead of baked goods, you can arrange to swap food ahead of time or cook a meal together during the party.
  • Shake up your party with some mixology. Pick a drink or two ahead of time and have everyone buy the necessary ingredients. Be sure to include a mocktail recipe so the kids can join the fun.

Festive activities

Embrace the uniqueness of the holidays in 2020 with these virtual group activities. Who knows? You might even discover a new tradition.
  • Safely enjoy the lights of the season with a group lights tour. Have each family caravan along a designated route and share your collective oohs and ahhs on a group call. Find the best light displays by consulting the Twin Cities Guide to Holiday Lights or simply drive around your neighborhood.
  • Host a virtual holiday movie night. Many streaming services now offer group watching features that make it easy to view the classics together even from afar.
  • Enjoy a play from the comfort of your couch with virtual performances from theaters around the country. Minnesota’s very own Guthrie Theater is offering an on-demand virtual rendition of A Christmas Carol. 
  • Gather the kids around the computer for a holiday story time. Ask grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle or another special adult to read their favorite seasonal story to the group. Bonus points awarded for storytellers who use fun voices and dress in creative costumes.

Games & competitions

Amp up the fun at your virtual gathering by coordinating a few games and some friendly competition.
  • Test everyone’s musical knowledge with a game of Name that Tune. Play 5-10 second clips from your own holiday playlist or find one on Spotify. Award points for the correct song title and/or artist. Another fun option is to have players hum the songs!
  • Break into teams and compete to see who knows the most holiday trivia. Online you can find seasonal questions and even free holiday Jeopardy games.
  • Help everyone tap into their inner child with holiday-themed Mad Libs. Inevitably someone will name a bodily function as a noun or verb and together you can giggle at the absurdity of the story you create.
  • Get people moving with an at-home holiday scavenger hunt. You can find scavenger hunt lists online or simply brainstorm common holiday items (candy canes, holiday socks, scented candles, etc). Shout out an item, and the first person to show it on the webcam gets a point.
  • Craft time can be fun for both kids and adults. At this time of year, craft stores have tons of cute kits, which make it easy for each family to buy supplies for craft time fun.
  • Showcase the group’s creativity with a gingerbread house contest. Have people make their creations ahead of time or make the house building and decorating part of the event’s activities.

This holiday season we have an opportunity to find joy in what is rather than lamenting what is not. Our traditions may look different in 2020, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll be any less special. Because in the end, the true meaning of the holidays doesn’t come from the festive activities we do. Rather the significance of the season is found in the love we share and the memories we make during this magical time of the year.

Here are even more ideas on how to adapt for the holidays in 2020! Happy Holidays!
Rachel Anderson
Rachel is one of those rare people who has never had a cup of coffee. She’s decided to start drinking coffee once she grows up. In the meantime, she gets her energy from the loves of her life: her husband of 10 years, 7 year-old son, and 2 year-old daughter. She also loves Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, the Thanksgiving holiday and the beauty of Minnesota. Rachel is a writer at heart and has built a career in corporate communications. The job closest to her heart is being a mom to her gregarious son and spirited daughter. As a Christian, Rachel aims to give and receive grace every day.

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