In the age of COVID-19, we are all looking for new ways to connect with loved ones and friends from a distance. Since social distancing mandates are preventing us from meeting up as we usually would during the holiday season, it is vital that we learn to adapt as best we can.
Video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Skype have seen a huge surge in users over 2020, with both seeing over 70% increases month-by-month. This is only going to expand as the holiday season continues. These platforms do a great job of replicating the experience of being together with others, providing the ideal setting for a virtual holiday get-together.
Planning your Virtual Holiday Party
Pick your software: With which conferencing software will you host your holiday party? Zoom might be the trend of the year, but charges are often incurred after just 40 minutes on a group call. Rushing your holiday party in just 40 minutes sounds like a route to indigestion! However, if you decide to Zoom, be sure to play around with the fun custom backgrounds to give your dinner party a festive feel! There are bound to be some snowy backdrops to choose from.
Skype allows for around four hours per call and can host up to 50 people, so that makes for a promising option. Otherwise, you can simply make use of FaceTime which supports unlimited calls between as many as 32 devices. However, do be aware that those without smartphones will be excluded from using FaceTime!
Set a menu ahead of time: Consider all of your invitees and their dietary requirements. Of course, guests can change your recipes as needed, but the fun starts when everybody at the virtual celebration is enjoying the same food, just as they would at a regular party. For this reason Farm to Feast has created the Buffet in a Box. Your guests can all enjoy their choices from the same menu, and it will be delivered to each person by a Farm to Feast delivery driver, ready to heat up right before your virtual party for the holidays.
- Farm to Feast has just released their holiday boxes! With all kinds of options from salmon biryani and maple glazed chicken for meat-eaters to carrot osso bucco and eggplant caponata for the vegans at your party. They are also offering a special ‘12 Courses of Christmas’ meal which means all your guests could receive a customized menu featuring 12 courses from bite-sized appetizers to miniature desserts.
- Dessert can always be added to your Buffet in a Box! However, if you are looking for a fun activity to do as a family, dessert gives everyone a chance to get baking. Provide some easily-made recipes for cookies or brownies that utilize ingredients most people will have in their pantry. Simple desserts like these will please adults and children alike!
Delicious choc-chip cookies: give children a chance to get in on the baking!
Prepare invitations: Instead of sending the same cheesy email template to every guest, you can even take the time to handwrite some classy, festive invitations and mail them to your invitees. This is an easy way to add to the holiday cheer!
Executing your Virtual Holiday Party
When the day of your virtual party arrives, you should have everything in place for a successful evening! Invitations should have been received, and your guests should also have received the menu ahead of time so they can prepare to heat their food. It might even be a good idea to test your chosen video conferencing software ahead of time – you don’t want technical faults on the night. Nothing says ‘happy holidays!’ more than a blurry screen and slow connection!
Plan your evening’s entertainment: What is a holiday party without some festive entertainment? Even though your guests are not in the room with you, it is still possible to organise something fun.
- Create a dress code. From formal wear to downright wacky costumes, you are in control of what your guests should wear when attending your virtual dinner party. There are plenty of laughs to be had with this one! Just be sure your snowman costume takes the cake.
- Take turns opening gifts on camera. If you have sent each other gifts for the holiday season, you can replicate the traditional experience of watching your loved ones open the gifts you have bought for them.
- Put together a quiz. Taking part in a virtual quiz has become somewhat of a tradition during COVID-19 lockdowns, especially in the UK. Compile some questions suitable for all the family and pit your guests against each other in a battle of holiday wit.
- Sit back and watch a movie. If you aren’t quite sure about how well interactive entertainment would go down, just pick a festive movie for everyone to stream simultaneously.
Consider local alcohol delivery options: If yourself or your guests are not enthusiastic about preparing your own holiday cocktails, remember that you can explore local delivery services that supply alcohol during COVID-19.
Arrange for alcohol delivery by using apps like Drizzly & Saucey to make it easy for your virtual guests to responsibly enjoy your specialty cocktail menu. Remember, you can not have alcohol delivered in the state of Maryland.
Organizing a virtual holiday party is a great way to keep in touch with loved ones during the festive season. Sharing great flavors and personalized entertainment is enough to keep friends and family feeling connected during these testing times.
This article was written in collaboration with Jack Vale, a writer for Silver Superstore, a designer silverware wholesaler.
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About Naif Productions:
Naif Productions is a strategic event planning, design and production firm specializing in corporate, live coaching sales events, social, non-profit, and weddings. Based in New York City, we produce events worldwide from Fortune 500 clients and coaches to families and charities. Naif Productions specializes in helping clients attain their goals, realize return on investment, and achieve the most unique, creative experiences.
About Annette Naif:
Since 1986 Annette Naif has been designing and producing custom events, helping clients create their unique style that translates into a memorable and profitable experience. Annette spent 17 years producing events in the motion picture industry where she helped coordinate numerous productions for film and episodic television programs. Since then Annette’s been running her own event production company, coaching other event planners, teaching an event operations and production course at NYU, and now is the CEO & Creative Director of Naif Productions.