How to host the best virtual Christmas parties
So, we’re allowed to see a few of our nearest and dearest for a few days over Christmas. Yay! Definitely progress. But just on the off-chance you’re not going to see everyone and do everything you normally would – whether it be the annual Christmas drinks with a load of old friends, or a work Christmas party – our Christmas-mad team here at Circus has been doing some homework. We’ve been busy tapping into the magic of the virtual world to find ways to spark the Christmas spirit from home. From meeting with your buddies in new and exciting ways, to playing each other in thrilling games, and discovering mysterious parts of the world together.
The BBC recently published an article about hosting Christmas parties on Zoom. It succinctly categorises sets of virtual experiences as follows.
Virtual Christmas parties with a difference
Many companies are looking to virtual parties to boost morale when their staff are feeling isolated while working from home. They’re bringing in specialists like us, Circus, to deliver something fun, interactive and memorable.
Take a VR team game that we’re currently creating for the 500 EMEA-based staff of a major global tech company. Using artistic 360 imagery from around the world we’re designing a team treasure hunt which participants can play using VR headsets they are sent in advance. Each group will have its own private virtual meeting room so they can see each other, chat, and discuss clues over video conference while exploring the content in their own headset. “The beauty of it is, while people are stuck working from home, they can jointly transport themselves to Red Square in Moscow, washing elephants in Mumbai or diving in a submerged cave in Brazil. You can’t do that at a regular Christmas party!” says Jay Scott-Nicholls, Director, Circus.
Hire Space has recently shifted from organising events at large venues, to hosting ‘different’ virtual parties. The BBC article describes an experience where clients begin by selecting an entrance experience – such as a comedy bouncer who, on the way in, checks your dress code. Guests then get to choose from more than thirty immersive rooms, from burlesque to dance floors, and are able to navigate between rooms using a clickable party map, showing where the guests are, as well as the various performances.
Story Events, a fantastic creative events agency has successfully pivoted to virtual and hybrid events. They’ve happily “explored technology’s full potential”, and now offer a range of festive packages. Including a selection of cool interactive experiences, carefully-selected food and drink accompaniments and end to end event management including virtual platform management.
And finally, other immersive experiences on the market for those tired of online quizzes include escape rooms and murder mystery parties, which are hosted by actors. Guests are sent character details before the event – a completely different and fun way to keep team-building “alive and kicking”.
Food and Drink
The virtual world is helping to keep the culture of working lunches alive. Many restaurants have moved to providing takeaway and delivery, or even festive boxes of their best, and often locally- and sustainably-sourced ingredients, to create something truly special at home. These include Circus favourites like The Social Company restaurant group by Jason Atherton and Hawksmoor. But some companies are also offering a service to deliver freshly cooked, haute cuisine meals to guests at the same time as a joint experience for a Christmas party. Guests get to connect over food, just as they normally would, just virtually.
For something fun, interactive and totally different, there’s Lick Me I’m Delicious. One of our favourite companies who, like many others, have successfully pivoted from live events to a virtual event offering. They guide you through 20+ multi-sensory flavour experiments designed to muddle “your merry taste buds”. They explore your festive likes and dislikes through a set of mini experiments. Their festive experience gets you creating edible snow, learning the secret of the sprout and they even promise to transform you into a winter penguin. Our team is looking forward to trying it all out at our own Christmas party next week!
Other companies go for virtual Christmas workshops such as wreath-making, cocktail-mixing and even beauty treatments. All considered effective ways to boost team morale. Doing something fun together as a team, while also demonstrating a company’s interest in their team’s well-being. The BBC article cites the work of Re:Lax London and their spectrum of services from mindful breathing to facial massage. They also highlight Wreath Making Delivered who send out wreath kits to teams with tutorials by video link.
A totally different and perhaps sophisticated experience that always blows our minds is EYECONART. Like Lick Me (above) this creative enterprise has also successfully pivoted from live to virtual events. Their crews of professional photographers are unique in the world, using their own technology to capture photographs of guests’ eyes at live events. Their live webinars focus on the art and technology; they take guests on a fascinating journey of discovery about what makes their iris unique in the world and in history. Pretty awe-inspiring, you always leave with a story to tell.
Finally, private gigs of all shapes and sizes are being held online for corporate and private parties. Scarlett Entertainment is a fantastic go-to supplier of some of the world’s best acts. On the virtual front, this ranges from magicians and pop parties to festive origami workshops, custom acapella songs and comedy clubs. Encore delivers virtual live music packages including a “Zoom Bomb” experience, where musicians appear via video call to surprise employees with a song.
Demand for all these services is growing exponentially. Businesses want to keep their teams happy and engaged, especially during lock-down winter months. It’s more important than ever that companies keep their teams together and happy.
If you’d like to explore what Circus can do to make a truly special VR experience as part of your party, please contact our award-winning team today.