“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...”

...but wait, I just heard a mouse click!

Let’s face it. The year 2020 has been a tough one and if you’re anything like us, you’re feeling a bit down that you don’t have your annual Halloween costume contest, Thanksgiving potluck, or company Christmas party to look forward to.

Rather than letting this season slide by like the Grinch That Stole Christmas, we’ve come up with 13 creative ideas for you to gather friends, colleagues and even family together this holiday season. Check out the ideas below, and let us know if you have any of your own!

1. Virtual Halloween Costume Contest

There’s no opportunity to flex your creativity quite like a costume contest. Pick someone to host or emcee the event on the Stage, and anyone who dresses up can request to share their video to officially present their costume to the group.

One incentive to get everyone involved is awarding prizes for various categories. You can do Most Creative, Best Group (i.e., if the marketing team dresses up as the cast of Schitt’s Creek), Spookiest, Popular Vote, etc. You can entrust the decisions to a panel of judges, or better yet, poll the audience with a quick Poll in the Hopin chat.

2. Virtual Pumpkin Carving Contest

It’s that time of year when the pumpkin patches open and plump orange fruits sprinkle the fields ready for picking.

This makes for a ripe opportunity for a virtual pumpkin carving contest!

Gather everyone into the Sessions area to begin their work. Set the timer (up to you) and let the seeds and knives fly! Others at the party can sip hot cider while catching up one-on-one in the Networking room.

When the time is up, launch a Poll asking everyone to vote on their favorite pumpkin carving. Hide the live results so that the winner isn’t displayed. Bring everyone to the Stage and announce the winner!

3. Play a Virtual Game of Wink Murder

It's a classroom favorite, and now you can play it on Hopin! Use a random number generator (Google has one built into the search results) to determine who will be the murderer in the group, and head to the Sessions to make sure everyone knows who is alive at the beginning. Next, head to Networking for speed-dating style meetings. But be careful! If you're in a room on your own with the killer, you're dead! After a certain amount of Networking meets, split the group into two Sessions - those still alive and those who've been got! See if you can work out who the killer is, before heading back to Networking for the next round! Keep going until you catch them!

4. Virtual Thanksgiving Dinner

Our friends in Canada just celebrated their Thanksgiving holiday, but those in the U.S. might be deciding how to navigate this special mid-November opportunity to connect with friends, family, and colleagues over great food and conversation.

We love the idea of organizing a Thanksgiving virtual dinner party. You can have everyone pick a dish to create out of the same cookbook or within the same theme, and enjoy the meal together over a predetermined list of dinner party questions as conversation prompts.

If you’re organizing this with your family you can do one group, but if it’s a company event, you’ll likely want to break groups into various Sessions, followed by some Networking and perhaps a Watch Party on Stage.

5. End-of-Year Virtual Awards Ceremony

The holiday season is a time to celebrate and we know a lot of companies choose this time of year to reward and celebrate the triumphs and wins of the year. Why should this year be any different?

Read the case study: How GitLab Used Hopin for Its Global Awards Ceremony

Head to the Hopin Stage to announce your winners and send them a private message through the People tab to send them the link to the backstage so they can come on screen to bask in their glory and accept their award. Keep an eye on the chat for everyone’s reactions — a lot of energy happens there!

Got a huge global company? The Stage can have up to 100,000 attendees at a time. If it’s a smaller team however (less than 500), we’d recommend something a little more intimate for your awards. You can use the Sessions area, and with up to 20 on screen at a time you can bring all prize-winners on screen at the same time to celebrate the group!

6. Virtual Meet and Greet With Santa

One of the staple moments of a Christmas party is a meet and greet with Santa – for kids and kids at heart alike! Although we can’t sit on Santa’s lap this year (6 feet is a bit of a stretch) you can still virtually meet with Santa and his elves.

Our Networking tool is designed to set attendees up on one-to-one video calls, set to mimic the spontaneous meetings at an in-person event. Sprinkle some Christmas Magic over the platform, and you’ll find yourself meeting an Elf, Mrs. Claus, or even Saint Nick himself! As the organizer, you can of course create these matches based on the ticket types

Want to meet Santa but don’t want to wait in line? Another idea is to set up Santa’s Grotto in the Sessions, where one of your elves can moderate who comes on screen with Santa to talk face-to-face. Going virtual could mean the end of the massive lines through the shopping malls! And since Sessions can have up to 20 on screen at a time, you can get the whole family on the screen for a family portrait with Santa.

7. Virtual Office Holiday Party

There are so many benefits to hosting a virtual Holiday party.

  • If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you don’t need to go out in the cold.
  • No need to get a babysitter.
  • No taxi or rideshare fares to get home.
  • No need for high heels.

We’ve already seen clients send gift baskets or delivery vouchers to their attendees before events, which is a great way to make sure that everyone has something to toast with when the time comes. Your guests can sip and share some bubbles or a bite together!

8. Virtual Karaoke

Christmas isn’t Christmas until you’ve heard your colleagues belt out “All I want for Christmas is You” in a frightfully out-of-tune rendition, right?

Well, if you can't imagine your festive season without a bit of karaoke, jump on Stage and use screen sharing with one of the many YouTube Karaoke videos so you can have your moment in the spotlight. You can use the native audio directly from YouTube so the sound quality will still be great (even if the singing isn’t).

9. Virtual Secret Santa

We love Secret Santa. It makes gift-giving so much easier and scalable: everyone gives one, everyone gets one. Reddit started a huge phenomenon of online Secret Santa back in 2013 and this year you can bring this trend to the next level at a live online event.

First, outline your process, vendors, rules, and set a deadline for organizing and getting the deliveries made before your event.

Next, make a numbered list of all the gift items that were bought. Then hyperlink the number to the gift to be bought.

When it’s time for the event, head to the Sessions and use a random number generator to choose the order of who chooses a gift.

Have one person share their screen with the list of gifts.

The chooser selects a number and the link to the gift is clicked, revealing it to all who are watching. The next participant goes and can either reveal another number or choose the revealed gift. So it goes until the last gift is revealed.

At the end, the participants share shipping addresses to send the gifts that were received during the game.

You can’t quite pass the parcel in a game of virtual Secret Santa, but you can watch the excitement on the face of your recipient as they click through to see the gift you got for them. Priceless!

10. Virtual Christmas Market

Support your local businesses this Christmas by inviting them to hold an Expo booth to display and sell their products at your event on Hopin.

The Hopin Expo area is ideal for a mini-Christmas Market. Each vendor can have their own booth featuring banners, logos, and bios. Once you’re in a booth, the vendor can present one of the following:

  • Live video for a product demonstration or Q&A.
  • Pre-recorded video to show off the goods.
  • Google slides purposed as a product brochure (and each product can have a link to the purchase page on the website).

There’s also an opportunity for businesses to extend an offer to entice attendees to purchase, and a call to action button to link to their shopping page. What a great way to celebrate with your colleagues and get your Christmas shopping done at the same time!

Master Class

Bring in the experts! Host a class and teach your friends, family, or colleagues something new this season.

Wine Tasting

Send your attendees a shopping list a week before the event (or if you’re feeling generous, send the bottles) and set up a Session or an Expo booth with a master Sommelier to talk your attendees through a wine tasting!

Cocktail Class

Choose your cocktail and send over the ingredients list before the event. Set up your Expo Booth or Session and encourage everyone to come on screen whilst they’re shaking for a good laugh!

Dance Lesson

Choose your dance, bring in a pro and dance the night away - just make sure there’s nothing breakable nearby. Who needs a partner to step on their toes, anyway!

11. Virtual Clue

We know some companies like to add some creative flair to their holiday off-sites rather than the standard dinner and drinks. Equally, lots of families love to bring out the board games around the holiday period – how about bringing the board game to your screen and playing a virtual murder mystery?

Start in the Stage for the brief from the detective/narrator. There’s been a crime and it’s up to your attendees to work out whodunnit!

Head to Networking for the 1-1 interrogations. But beware! You only have a few minutes to ask as many questions as you can of the suspects before time’s up! Maybe you’ll match with another detective so you can swap notes and gain more intel.

Remember, private video calls can happen at any time with no time limit via the People tab. Simply click someone’s profile and press the Invite to video call button to notify them you’ve created a private room.

When you’re ready, head to the Sessions to swap notes and come up with a verdict – and find out if you’re choosing to arrest the right person!

12. Virtual Charades

An age-old favorite, and we can all picture the scene: Grandpa’s asleep on the couch, the fire is on and (if you’re in the UK) the Queen’s Speech has just finished. What’s next? Charades of course! If you can’t connect in person with all your loved ones this Christmas, you can still grab your computer for some virtual charades.

Added bonus? If you have any cheaters in the family, you can always hit mute so they can’t talk! Make your guesses on screen or in the chat.

Pro-tip: Sessions can be recorded if you want something to cheer you up from the January post-holiday-blues.

13. Host a Virtual New Year’s Eve Party with a Bang

I think we're all excited to welcome in 2021 and see what it has to offer for us. So although we can't have the large scale parties, and fireworks from Sydney to London and Times Square set to be very limited, don't let that stop you from gathering friends and family alike to watch the virtual fireworks together, toast to the new year, and sing a chorus of Auld Lang Syne.

Bonus: A Hopin favorite at our Virtual Tea Time events is Pictionary — we use Drawasaurus and it works quite well!

What holiday events will you plan? Get started today and tweet your ideas to @hopinofficial – we can’t wait to hear from you!