With the party season nearly upon us, and the prevalence of ‘digital’ parties increasing, what can you do to make your Zoom Christmas party really stand out?
Most people are now familiar with video calls, as a part of working life, or for keeping in touch with friends. So when it comes to planning a digital event, Zoom is no longer a novelty. Perhaps you have already decided on the entertainment for your digital Christmas party — a quiz, a show, or maybe one of our virtual tastings — and now you’re looking for a few ‘extras’ to make your party really pop…
Here are ten Zoom party ideas and mini-games for you to use straight away, or to get your creative juices flowing. Their suitability for your party will depend on multiple factors: some work best in small groups, and some in larger ones; some are more eccentric and wacky, while others will be fun for even the most introverted.
1. Have a party theme
One of the easiest ways to get people excited for a party is by setting a theme or fancy dress code. For an office party especially, employees will already be used to conference calls as a regular occurrence — so a theme party will immediately shift the tone of the Zoom call from ‘work’ to ‘play’. Here are some Zoom party theme ideas:
- Ugly Christmas sweaters
- Mad Hatters
- Masquerade Ball
- Beach Party
- Festival (you could be even more specific and pick a time, i.e. 60s/70s/80s/90s)
- Movie Characters
- Heroes and Villains
- Colour theme, e.g. a Pink Party
Whatever theme you choose, make sure there is scope for everyone to take part. Don’t make it so particular that people will have to buy a costume to participate!
2. Hire a musician, comedian or magician
If you have a budget for party entertainment, why not spend it on a live act? This is an especially good idea for large groups, where there is limited opportunity for individual interactions. It’s a great way of creating the party atmosphere.
Furthermore, the arts sector and live acts have been among the worst affected by the pandemic. Many have been excluded from government financial support, and have had virtually no income all year.
So if you’re looking for something that’s going to make your event extra special, why not support the entertainment industry and hire an act for your event? Professional entertainers can weave themselves into your event, performing in-between quiz rounds (or gin tastings!), ir opening and closing the party. For example:
- Hire a comedian: This could be for a fixed slot, or for a few short intervals. A comedian also has the potential to make a great compère for your event.
- Hire a musician: Beyond performing live, the musician can offer a selection of songs and attendees can vote via Zoom poll (or applause!) for the ones they want to hear.
- Hire a magician: Watch a magician work their magic over Zoom. A close-up card trick or some sleight of hand will leave your party wondering, “How did they do that?”
- Hire a professional host: From drag acts and compères to professional sommeliers and educators, each has potential to bring something special to your event.
3. Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts can be done in a number of ways, depending on how energetic and competitive you want your party to be. You could call out items individually, and give people 30 seconds to find each, or give the hunters a list, and allow several minutes ‘scavenging’ time. Examples could be:
- Find something pink
- Find something with teeth
- Find a plant
- Find something crunchy
- Find something musical
- Find something that starts with the first letter of your name
Alternatively, you could have a ‘Show and Tell’ scavenger hunt. Your prompts could be:
- Show us your favorite book
- Show us a baby photo
- Show us the last thing you bought
- Show us your most outrageous shoes and tell us when you last wore them
You could even mix and match. But don’t forget to call out a warning before the clock runs out!
4. Awards & Prizes
A fun part of any staff party are prizes and awards ceremonies for silly superlatives. Equally, there are many superlatives you can create for family and friends. Here are a few ideas:
- The Odd Sock Award: Most likely to lose things
- The Party Monster Award: Most likely to find a reason to celebrate
- The Glamour Award: Best dressed
- The Grapevine Award: Most up to date on the office gossip
- The Dictionary Award: Most likely to know the answer
- The Feeder Award: Most likely to bring in cakes and biscuits
- The Spreadsheet Award: Most organised
- The Relentless Award: Never gives up
- The New Yorker Award: Arrives earliest, leaves latest
- The Joker Award: Has or gives the most laughs
5. ‘Company’s Got Talent’
Host a talent show, based on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent, and have your party guests show off their skills. You know the kind of thing we mean:
- Magic tricks
- Party tricks
This kind of entertainment is probably best suited for smaller, more extroverted groups. Or, ask people to submit their ‘audition’ in advance, and host the ‘live finals’ on the night.
6. Dress-Up Race
Similar to the scavenger hunt, this has the potential to get people moving, and be a lot of fun. Pick a theme and give people a few minutes to dress up. The more time you give people, the more elaborate their outfits can be! You could even list a few options, and use a Zoom poll to let attendees decide on the night. Here are a few ideas:
- An animal
- Something from space
- A movie character
- A famous musician
- Someone from the office (then everyone has to guess who!)
- A cartoon character
- A robot
- Show a picture, and reward whomever creates the closest match
Remember: whatever you propose needs to be achievable, so everybody can participate.
Charades (the game where the ‘actor’ has to mime a movie/show/song/book without speaking, for others to guess what it is) is one game you can play on Zoom without too many modifications.
Split everyone into teams. It’s best to have no more than four teams, otherwise it can take too long to get round everyone. Alternatively, you can just play for fun and do away with teams altogether.
There are a few options for how to play. The first is to have a Game Master, who controls the mimes by direct-messaging the designated actor. The second option is to have one team direct-message a member of another team with a mime. This can be a bit tricky, unless you use a random generator, as opposing teams can pick fiendishly difficult mimes for each other!
8. Fact or Fiction?
Play a ‘Two Lies, One Truth’ game. Each person has to think of 3 statements, one which is fact, and two of which are fabricated. The team has to guess the real fact. For example:
- Rudolph’s nose was originally blue, not red.
- Jingle Bells was the first song played in space. (True!)
- Pepsi was the company that made the Santa Claus suit red.
Personal fact or fiction questions can be good as ice-breakers, especially if you give people the chance to think of one before the party starts — often people can be nervous when put on the spot. For example:
- I once scored a goal for England
- I married the person I first kissed
- I’ve broken my arm 3 times
9. A Best Background Competition
The host picks a topic (or attendees could pick via Zoom poll), and everyone has one minute to find the best virtual Zoom background. For example:
- Find the best Christmas background
- Find the best holiday destination background
- Find a ‘famous friend’ background
This is best suited for parties whereby the attendees are all familiar with Zoom and how to find images, update backgrounds etc.
10. Who am I?
This game is similar to ‘Guess Who’ or ‘Twenty Questions’, where players put sticky notes on their foreheads with the names of famous figures, and ask each other yes or no questions to try and figure out who they are.
In the Zoom version, the game host tells one person (‘The Guesser’) to turn away from the screen. A name is then displayed to all the other players. The Guesser asks 10 yes or no questions, and is allowed to guess their ‘identity’ after each question.
Here are some examples of famous names:
- Simon Cowell
- Oprah Winfrey
- Lady Gaga
- Boris Johnson
- Gordon Ramsey
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Usain Bolt
- Marilyn Monroe
- Donald Trump
Bonus tip/idea for office parties
Consider allowing your staff to bring someone a partner or household member to the event. Similar to having a theme, this helps shift the atmosphere from ‘work’ to ‘play’, and it can be more fun for your employee to have an in-person guest to engage with during the party.
So there you have it, 10 ideas and a bonus tip to elevate your Zoom party. Just don’t try to use them all at once!