If you’re keeping track of the things that COVID-19 has robbed us of, don’t forget to add office holiday parties and celebrations to the list. Thankfully, we have plenty of virtual options to fill the gaps.
At VNET, Microsoft Teams is the clear choice for video conferencing with its tight integration with the Microsoft 365 family of products. Not only is it great for internal communications and remote work, but it’s also excellent for hosting VIRTUAL HOLIDAY PARTIES! Say What?!
It’s true, most of the leading video conferencing solutions are perfect for hosting a party or celebration with just a little planning, practice, and imagination.
If it’s in the budget, you might want to consider sending your team a box of food and drinks for your upcoming party. Perhaps it’s a cheese log, beef stick, crackers, and wine. That sounds great to me! Make sure to have it delivered a few days before the event and communicate that the contents should be saved FOR THE PARTY! Otherwise, who could blame someone for opening it right then and there and chowing down?
Decorate with a background or theme
Just like any good party, you’ve got to set the mood. Just in time for the holidays, some of the leading video conferencing software solutions have added winter themes and the ability to change your video feed background. Microsoft Teams has a new Together Mode that features some festive graphics that is sure to add some cheer to your event.
- Check out how to change your background in Microsoft Teams: Change Your Background for a Teams Meeting
- Download a new background or submit your own for others to enjoy: Custom Background Gallery
To keep the party moving, select someone to be the event M.C. This person should be familiar with the video conferencing software so they can facilitate breakout rooms for games. They also should be able to provide some energy to the proceedings.
No party is complete without music. Have someone in charge of the music. Music services like Spotify and Pandora are great for creating playlists that you can share for others to contribute to. Thanks to the audio presentation features of today’s conferencing apps, music sharing is a snap.
These work best in smaller breakout rooms. Questions like “what is your favorite Christmas movie?” or “what is the strangest Christmas present you ever received?” can help get the conversations started and loosen people up.
Have everyone dress in a theme. Microsoft Teams has an intuitive poll feature that is perfect for games of “who’s the best-dressed” or “best-themed outfit” contests.
Microsoft Teams and Zoom are known for having great whiteboarding features, so use that for a game of Yuletide Pictionary!
White elephant gift exchanges, a staple of many in-person Christmas parties, can now be done online with the aptly named White Elephant Online. It’s pretty cool, and due to the pandemic, the developer has made the basic service package available for free.
An idea that’s rarely done live in the workplace is a scavenger hunt. But with video conferencing, it becomes a fun activity as participants have to scramble through their own homes to find particular items and return with them to the camera before their co-workers.
Microsoft has even integrated proper board games such as Kahoot and Jackbox Games right into Microsoft Teams.
As a final tip, be sure to use breakout rooms to divide up large parties. Perhaps rotate people from one game to the next and make social interactions a bit less chaotic.
The sky is the limit when it comes to parties and celebrations over video conferencing. Will it exceed an in-person event? It isn’t very likely, but as with gift-giving and receiving, it’s the thought that counts. We all are striving to make the best of the moment. Hopefully, by this time next year, this will be a very dated article!
On behalf of the VNET family, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!