Ever since I was a kid, I have looked forward to our annual white elephant holiday party. Now that I’m an adult, we take turns hosting the party with our family and friends. It’s a great excuse to get together and trade hilarious gifts. Well, this year with Covid-19 crashing our party, we are trying something new–a virtual white elephant Christmas party! We are excited to keep our tradition alive even if it means things are a little different. Here are our recommendations for throwing a white elephant party–Coronavirus style!
Choose a virtual platform that is accessible and easy to use for all guests. This might mean contacting everyone before you decide, especially if some of party goers aren’t very tech savvy. We like using Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Meets, or Zoom, but there are other options. For those who might need some help connecting, help them figure out the platform ahead of time so it’s not frustrating during the party.
Personally, I think it’s fun to send or receive a party invitation in the mail (especially since most people probably aren’t getting many of those right now). You could also send an invitation electronically. Be sure to detail not only date and time, but include the platform as well as any instructions, supplies, or gifts needed for the party.
For this year, I highly recommend sending invitations out early so your virtual party guests will have plenty of time to prepare whatever you have planned for the party. Ask guests to RSVP so you can plan accordingly and make assignments as needed.
Games and Activities
Even though the party is virtual, the fun can still be top-notch. Here are some great ways to keep your guests engaged and entertained.
Virtual White Elephant Gift Exchange
What’s the most important party of an online white elephant party? The crazy gifts, of course! There are a few different things to remember with the gift portion of the party. If you want guests to purchase budget white elephant gifts, be sure to set a dollar limit and let guests know the limit when you send out the invitations.
If you choose to have a theme for white elephant gifts (wearable gifts, re-gifted gifts, edible gifts, etc.) be sure to let party goers know that ahead of time as well.
With the party being virtual, there are a few different ways of exchanging gifts. Here are a few possibilities.
- Assign each guest another guest to buy for in advance. Then have guests deliver or mail their gift to the recipient before the party. Recipients open their gifts (one recipient at a time) at the designated time during the party so everyone can see the gifts. There would be no gift stealing or trading with this version.
- If you live close to all guests, have them drop wrapped gifts off at your house a few days before the party. You then randomly distribute gifts (Just be sure you don’t give the gifts back to the same person who brought them). Have guests open their gifts during the party so everyone can watch. Gift trading or stealing probably wouldn’t work with this version.
- Have all the gifts delivered to your house (in person or via carrier). During the party, you open one gift per person. You can allow for stealing/trading of gifts if you want. We usually allow a gift to be stolen only once or twice, depending on how many guests we have. Then, after all the party, you deliver or mail the gifts to the recipients.
Ugly sweater competition
In recent years, we have incorporated an ugly sweater contest as party of our party. A virtual ugly Christmas sweater contest is definitely doable. You can even create a theme for the sweaters. Homemade ugly sweaters might be fun this year. Other ideas are character-based sweaters, Christmas tree theme, sweaters with lights, etc. Or just leave it open for party guests to choose any sweater they want.
Be sure each party goer gets the chance to show off their sweater. You could even have a fashion show for everyone to strut their stuff!
What fun is a competition without a prize? Come up with something funny or obnoxious to give as a prize (think white elephant). Maybe an old soccer trophy, a roll of toilet paper, or even just a candy bar. If the winner lives close to you, drop the prize off at their house after the party or ship it if they don’t live nearby.
Gingerbread house decorating
This could be a really fun activity. Be sure to tell your guests about this activity in advance so they can be prepared with all needed supplies. You can make stipulations on the type of gingerbread used (homemade, store bought kit, etc.) or leave that up to those attending.
Decide on a time limit and have everyone turn their cameras so all the guests can see each other. When time is up, allow each guest or team (if guests are together) show their creation. You can vote on winners in different categories (most creative, best use of candy, best theme).
Divide the group into teams. As the host, you text a Christmas related clue to the person playing for each team. They then act out the clue and the teams guess.
Gift wrapping competition
This is pretty simple. Have each person or couple wrap a gift in a given amount of time. The winner could be the one finished the fastest or the one with the most beautifully wrapped package. Do the gifts have to be the same size? Is tying on a bow required? You decide!
This is one of our favorite games to play in a group. We recently discovered it can be played for free here. Each person goes to the website, enters the same code, and plays with the group.
Separate into teams. Each team designates one person to give clues. That person tries to get the team to guess the words they are describing before the other team guesses their own words from the game board. It’s a great game that can be done virtually.
Blindfolded Christmas tree drawing
Here’s another easy option. Guests blindfold themselves and close their eyes. They draw a Christmas tree complete with all the trimmings. The winner is the one with the best (or worst) drawing.
Food for A Virtual Christmas Party
What’s a holiday party without food? Even though you can’t have refreshments in person with your guests, everyone can enjoy eating delicious treats from their own homes. With a virtual holiday party, there are a few different things you can do for food.
One fun idea is a recipe exchange. Have party guests submit their favorite holiday treat recipes ahead of time. Then trade recipes between the guests and have each of them make a recipe submitted by one of the other participants. Have everyone show their culinary creations during the party and have them taste their recipe. You can even have a master recipe document containing all the recipes to share electronically.
You can choose to assign each guest a different kind of food to make, show, and share the recipe for. Or you can have everyone make the same type of food (cookies, appetizers, etc.). Another fun idea is to have each guest choose a country and make a Christmas food associated with that country.
As the host, make sure your space is decorated festively for your Covid holiday celebration. Decorations will help make it feel like an actual party. You could also ask party goers to decorate their spaces as well. Another fun option is a light display contest. Each participant can go outside to show their light displays to everyone else or take photos in advance to share during the party.
Since this is an online party, you could also consider doing some virtual decorations through the platform if available by changing the wallpaper, adding fun emojis, and so forth. You could also wear some decorative antlers or jewelry to add to the ambiance.
While a virtual celebration isn’t the same as an in-person one, it can still be memorable and fun. It allows guests who usually can’t attend due to distance to be part of the festivities. By thinking a little outside the box to alter your usual holiday traditions, you can still enjoy your favorite activities. Who knows? Maybe this year will be everyone’s favorite Christmas party yet!