Because Christmas must be celebrated with family, no matter the distance!
This year, family Christmas gatherings are going to look a bit different. There will be no relaxed chats around the fireplace (for expats who usually go home to a white Christmas every year), no kids rushing to the tree to open presents excitedly and no carving and passing around Grandma’s famous turkey lunch. With increasing social distancing restrictions, it seems like each family will have to stay in and enjoy rather muted celebrations. But what this year has taught us is that as long as we have our health and our loved ones are safe and sound, there is ample cause for gratitude. So we have tips on how to plan a remote Christmas party and enjoy virtual festive celebrations with friends and families overseas.
A remote Christmas party requires some planning ahead so if you haven’t got to it already, it’s time to start now. Here are ten easy ideas that can be executed by different members of the family, so the onus doesn’t fall to a single person.
Send Out Virtual Party Invitations
The first task while organising a remote Christmas party is to make sure that everyone knows how and where to join the celebrations. While most parents and children have become exceedingly tech-savvy this year thanks to online schooling and working from home, there are possibly older members of the family who haven’t joined in on Zoom, Skype or Google Meet calls before. Make sure that each one has the necessary apps or websites on their devices, with accounts set up and groups created well in advance. While you don’t really need to make an invitation, sending a link out in advance with clear instructions on how to join is essential.
Do A Tech Rehearsal
This stems naturally from the previous point. While you don’t need to have everyone in for the rehearsal, you may need to support the older and not-so-tech-savvy generation. Make sure that your parents know the best spot to place the laptop, where to look into the camera, how to switch from “speaker” or “gallery view”, etc. Get your cousins to do the same for your uncles and aunts.
Christmas Fancy Dress Competition
This is a great way to start the party. Have the youngest ones dress up as Christmas-related characters and do a catwalk in front of the screens while all the others guess who they are dressed up as. Make sure that all parents are armed with enough sweets and treats to hand out to their kids after the party (because everyone is a winner at Christmas, of course!).
Make A Family Holiday Playlist
You need music to get into Christmas spirit, so why not create your own Spotify playlist along with your siblings all over the world? Share it on the day of your virtual Christmas party with your parents, in-laws, uncles and aunts. In the days leading up to the party, expect some fun banter and virtual DJ-jostling that will bring back childhood memories.
Pick A Time That Works Across Timezones
This is always going to be the most difficult part about organising a virtual family celebration. Chances are that someone is going to have to get up at a rather unearthly hour. Pick the youngest cousin or sibling who doesn’t have a sleeping toddler (or an exhausted teen!) at home and let them have the privilege of taking one for the team. So the remote Christmas party might be a breakfast celebration in one country, lunch in another or afternoon tea in a third.
Follow The Same Menu And Recipes
This becomes a bit difficult when you are talking about different times of the day across the world. What works any time of the day or night are festive snacks and baked goodies. Put Grandma in charge of the menu planning and have everyone in the family make the same set of four to five dishes. If everyone enjoys the meal, it becomes a talking point and a great way to practise and preserve some favourite family recipes. What your mum (or mother-in-law) will appreciate most though is the attention as in the run-up to the party, there will be plenty of calls to check on ingredients, portions and substitutes.
Put Up A Christmas Performance
This can be planned in advance and can be either a short skit or a musical performance. There are many fun children’s Christmas plays available online (The Elves and the Shoemaker is one of our favourites) that can be modified by an adult to make them easier and age-appropriate for the kids involved. An older sibling can practise his or her own video editing skills and put together this Christmas play that can be watched by everyone together at the party. Similarly, the kids could also sing a song together. We love how One Voice Children’s Choir performed Maroon 5’s Memories; a simpler version of this style of video could be made by a tech-savvy teenager.
This is a biggie! Make sure that you have ordered or posted gifts well in advance with a note that they should be opened only on the day of the party. You could also choose a virtual experience and remind your family not to open the email before Christmas. Handmade gifts and heartfelt thoughts matter much more than material things, so do encourage your children to put in love and effort into their gifts.
Remote Christmas Party Games
Virtual party entertainment has become far easier than we would have anticipated at the start of the year. From conducting quizzes online to smartphone Pictionary to acting out movie Charades, there are plenty of ideas of what you can do for virtual parties. An enthusiastic member of the family can take on the responsibility of organising a Christmas trivia quiz or have a carolling competition (you can make it exciting by combining both – Do you remember all Rudolph’s fellow reindeer?). If you have the time, you can create templates for Christmas Bingo or Holiday Taboo and have each person print it out at home to play while you’re all online together.
Say A Prayer
Prior to the party, have the kids cut and colour in some hanging paper decorations (email this Sassy Mama template to the others in your family). As you get ready to wind up the celebrations, have everyone share what they are most thankful for and what they are looking forward to in the new year. Write your prayers down at the back of these decorations and hang it up on your own Christmas tree. When said aloud in the presence of your loved ones, it will have loads of love and blessings attached to it and (we hope!) all your dreams will come true in 2021!