With no end to social distancing expected until next year at the earliest, traditional in-person office parties are simply no-gos for the 2020 holiday season. Instead, businesses are turning to virtual events as a way to engage and connect with employees and partners when they can’t be together in person. So cameras on and mics off everyone, keep reading to find out our top five tips for throwing a perfect virtual office party.

1. Keep it Short & Sweet

When it comes to video conferencing, lack of face-to-face eye contact, staring at a screen for long periods of time, and being unable to read the room (because you’re literally not physically in the same room) causes real fatigue and a shortened attention span. Not only that, your guests have likely already spent hours in virtual meetings for remote work that day and they may not be relishing the prospect of spending more time in front of their computer—even if it is for a “fund virtual holiday party” or team building event. So while it may seem too short for a party, the ideal duration your virtual event is about 60 minutes.

2. Don’t Forget Refreshments

Just like an in-person party, your guests need drinks and snacks to enjoy during the virtual celebration. So plan to ship the refreshments you’d normally serve at a party to the attendees ahead of time. For example, if you want to have a signature cocktail at your virtual happy hour or holiday party event, equip your team with the recipe, the ingredients, and the tools they need to make the cocktail themselves. And as an added bonus, when the party guests receive their “party in a box” ahead of time, it will increase anticipation and build enthusiasm for the event.

3. Set a Schedule & Stick to It

To keep every remote team member engaged and encourage participation, be sure to thoughtfully schedule each piece of your event and make sure there’s a relatively quick pace. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes and imagine how each activity will look and feel sitting in front of a computer screen. Remember, attention spans are short so plan accordingly and stay true to the schedule during your virtual team event.

4. Choose Activities That Engage

Between microphones canceling each other out, moody internet connections, and inexplicable echoes, customary office party mingling just doesn’t work over a video conference call. Oh, how we wish it did! That’s where organized, video-conference-friendly activities that require engagement come into play. Some virtual office party ideas that work well include playing a classic party game such as trivia, having a show-and-tell with photos or videos, or inviting an expert to guide the group in, say, a wine, cheese, or beer tasting. (These activities work well for virtual team building events, too!) If you’re looking for holiday-specific recommendations, try hosting a virtual Secret Santa, creating a collaborative holiday playlist, or planning a fun scavenger hunt during your remote holiday partyOtherwise, one of the most popular activities we’ve been seeing in the virtual party space is the “simultaneous gift opening” experience where virtual party guests open a gift at the exact same time during the event.

5. Give a Memorable Gift

Giving a gift to each party guest that they can enjoy post party is a must. In our new socially distanced world, gifts are conduits for the in-person connection we’re missing right now. A meaningful gift or care package will let your remote team know how much you appreciate them and miss connecting with them in person. Some good examples that work for any virtual celebration include a spa or mindfulness themed gift or a beautiful notebook or coffee mug to compliment their home office. Another idea to help guests get in the holiday spirit is to combine this gift with the “party in a box” mentioned above. If your party refreshment plan is to send your guests everything they need to make a signature cocktail, you could include specialty cocktail glasses that can be used and enjoyed for years to come as the gift.

For more virtual office party ideas, get in touch with our account executives. Or call 206-557-4525.