With the spread of “Zoom fatigue,” having your holiday party through video chat may not sound fun. But there’s no reason for a Zoom celebration to be as awkward or boring as a work meeting.
Long before software like Zoom came along, folks were having a blast in online events. New technology has only enhanced your ability to host a party online.
Here are six ways to make your Christmas Zoom party fun for everyone.
1. Dress Code: Pajama Casual
The first and most crucial step to creating a get-together on Zoom is to set an informal tone. Most people’s experience with Zoom is that it’s only for work, and this formality makes it hard to relax.
By setting a “pajama casual” or other silly dress code, you make it clear that this is not a work meeting. If folks aren’t comfortable joining in their jammies, maybe invite them to use a custom Zoom background.
Making cameras optional is another great way to relieve the pressure. This is especially true for remote workers, who might be sick of watching their own faces.
You should also consider sharing the prep work, especially if your gathering is a staff party. Asking guests to help prepare the games and prizes shows that this is a shared activity among equals.
2. Mail Goods to Your Colleagues Before the Event
One way to get everyone engaged in your Christmas Zoom party is to mail goodies out to your colleagues before the event. This way they will have something physical in their homes to get them in the party mood.
For example, you can gift them with cocktail shakers, vouchers for dinner (so that everyone can eat and drink together), or party hats and decor. By doing this you will make sure that everyone is ready to party.
3. Choose an Inclusive Christmas Theme
To make your Christmas party more exciting, you might consider choosing a theme that brings Christmas to a whole new level. By choosing a neutral theme you will make your party more inclusive. For example, a Christmas Around The World Theme, might get people talking about what Christmas looks like where they come from or where they currently live. It might also spark some exciting recipes that your colleagues could cook on the day and share in the Zoom call.
Another fun theme might be a Christmas dress-up party in which the person with the best costume wins a prize. Or you might get people competing in a Christmas light competition by showing off their lights and decorations. By choosing an inclusive (and neutral) theme, you will make sure that everyone feels comfortable at the Zoom party and engages in some way.
4. Turn Audio and Video Issues Into a Competition
Audio issues are frustrating, but what if a mic cutting out was an opportunity to win prizes? Award a point to the first person to give a signal when someone’s audio or video stops working.
This turns Zoom audio problems into their own light-hearted game, rather than a separation from the event.
There are so many things that can go wrong in Zoom calls, so it’s important to know how to fix common Zoom issues before they ruin the whole event. In other words, if someone’s audio and camera drops out, let them know that they can use the chat function to let everyone know.
Your chat signal could be the Christmas tree emoji, or a simple phrase like “Fa la la.” Or, you could have people name any holiday song. Keeping it short is important, otherwise, slow typists won’t stand a chance.
The competition among your guests will make sure this is a hit! It also helps identify audio issues faster. This is because people will look for the opportunity to score points.
5. Change Up the Games
“We’re having a Zoom party, and there will be games!” incites cringing in several people. But virtual games don’t have to mean trivia contests and awkward icebreakers.
There are plenty of games you can play online that don’t even need people to watch the camera feeds. Some are even free!
Here are a few examples:
- Play board games on Zoom: This can be a welcome return to the familiar for those who aren’t gamers. Plus, it’s easy to do for free!
- Have a Virtual Game Night: This is a premium service, but if everyone chips in, you can reduce the cost. Having a game night with a professional comedian and game host makes a party no one will soon forget.
- Run a virtual murder mystery game: A mystery is a fun, interactive group activity. If you’ll have young children on the call, consider changing the crime from murder to robbery.
- Jackbox Virtual Party Packs: Jackbox isn’t free, but only one person needs to actually own the product. That person can share a game code with others who join from their browsers. The crass humor in these games isn’t suitable for children, though. So let the kids enjoy their presents while the grownups put some headphones on.
Game time can be a chance for people to stand up and move around, too. Coordinate with your guests’ family members or roommates ahead of time. They can help you set up away-from-screen activities.
The freedom to move is crucial for mediating Zoom fatigue. Young folks and folks with short attention spans will appreciate it.
Example Game: Scavenger Hunt!
Get the family to hide items around people’s houses and do a scavenger hunt.
Here’s a tip to keep these cohorts from giving their loved ones too easy a time. The last one back to their camera with all the stuff wins! This incentivizes the helpers to hide things well.
6. Make Full Use of the Text Chat
Especially for folks who grew up in chat rooms, allowing the text chat to be active is crucial. The chat box isn’t like a Facebook comment section, or even like workplace chat rooms like Slack.
To use the chat to your advantage, you need to accept the principles of chat room culture:
- The chat topic is usually not the same as the voice topic.
- No one using voice chat needs to read the entire text chat.
- No one using the text chat needs to constantly follow the voice chat.
- The text chat isn’t just text. Emojis and GIF reactions are crucial shorthand.
If used right, the text chat can be a great way to prevent folks from talking over each other in a large group. Have something to say, but someone else is using the mic? Say it in the chat.
Allowing the use of emojis and GIFs also opens the way for visual humor. An active chat also makes your party easier for those who feel uncomfortable on voice calls.
Actually Have Fun at Your Next Zoom Party
By thinking outside the box, you can make your holiday Zoom party one to remember! Folks will really appreciate the chance to relax and even move around during the call.
Zoom is good for work meetings, but as you will see, it has many fun features for online parties, too!
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