Learn and Plan | How to celebrate the holidays virtually
A young couple in holiday garb video chat with family to celebrate

How to celebrate the holidays virtually

Jun 9, 2023, 8:04:06 PM | Reading Time: 5 minutes

With Covid-19 surging across the United States, many Americans will choose to stay home instead of traveling to see friends and family this holiday season. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun with your loved ones. Instead of seeing them in person, you can plan a virtual holiday party! Here are some suggestions on how you can make some fun memories while social distancing.

Connect with a video call

Just because you may not be celebrating in person, doesn’t mean you can’t see your family and friends this holiday season. There are many video chat options available for you to try. Some come at a cost, but there are many options out there that you can access for free. This is a great and easy way to connect, so do your research. Some video chat options limit the number of participants, while others may limit the amount of time you can use them. Check out this AARP article to explore your options.

Virtual happy hour

A fun way to enjoy the company of friends and family over long distances is a virtual happy hour. It’s a great way to relax, let go and celebrate the holidays. Here are some tips to make it an event to remember:

Send out digital invites

Make your party official by sending a digital invite. An invitation gets people excited, allows them to RSVP and they can instantly add the party date to their device calendars.

Make it an excuse to dress up

One way to add additional fun to your cocktail party is to set a dress code. The style of dress can be whatever you want. For the holidays, consider a pajama party to simulate the night before Christmas. Or make ugly, holiday sweaters mandatory. You can even add a contest for everyone to vote on the worst one at the end of the night. Want to make your party more sophisticated? Ask attendees to dress up fancy for an elegant and New Year’s Eve soiree.

Create a fun, holiday-themed drink menu

What’s a holiday happy hour without some season drinks? When you send your invites let guests know what the beverage list is. If you’re going with mixed drinks, including the recipe so your attendees can pick up the ingredients in advance.

Open gifts together virtually

This holiday, many of us won’t be able to enjoy the fun of exchanging gifts in the same room with our families. But you can coordinate the tradition over video chat. To set up a virtual gift exchange:

Select a date and time

If your guests live in multiple time zones, talk to your family or friends in advance to find out when might work best for them. Once you gather that intel, you can select the best day and time that works for everyone. It's also important to pick a date that allows enough time for gifts to arrive. Covid-19 often causes shipping delays, so keep that in mind. As the host, you can help by encouraging guests to send gifts by a specific date.

Set a time limit for the party

To make sure the exchange goes smoothly and everyone's time is respected, it's a good idea to keep the exchange to a couple of hours at most.

Assign an order for opening the gifts

To ensure the gift exchange goes smoothly, everyone should know when their turn is. This can be as simple as making the order youngest to oldest. 

Encourage participants to create gift lists

To make it easier for people to find presents and ship them on time, it’s a good idea to ask people to make lists of what they want.  

Send out an email or virtual invitation

Once you’ve worked out the details, make sure to let everyone know. An invitation will allow them to RSVP and put the gift exchange date on their calendars. 

Play party games together

Gaming over video chat is a blast. Here are a few suggestions for hosting a holiday game night with your friends or family. 


Bingo is always a crowd-pleasing game of chance that’s simple to play. Each player has a card with numbers printed in different arrangements. A game host, or caller, draws numbers at random and the players match those called on their card with tiles. When a player covers numbers on their card in a row, they call out "Bingo!" to claim a winning card. The host then verifies that the card is a winner.

Virtual charades

Charades is a word guessing game that’s fun to play on video chat. A player acts out a word or phrase, such as a movie or a book, while other players guess the word or phrase. You can play individually or divide into teams.

20 Questions

This is a classic, easy game where you ask each member of your group 20 creative questions. It’s designed to get to know people better by sharing and talking about personal things.


Who doesn’t like trivia? To play, use a random trivia generator and simply start asking questions. Each person in your group can send his or her answer in the chatbox at the same time.


The holidays will likely be very different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy yourself with your family. There are many options available for you to celebrate if you are socially distancing for safety. Who knows – you may even start a new tradition!



REV 12/2020