Virtual Christmas Ideas

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Hosting Christmas parties for family and friends, or work colleagues is a great way to end the year. In recent years, thanks to advancements of virtual technology, many are looking to virtual reality to add an extra ingredient to their festivities.

Below we discuss virtual party ideas and virtual games to play, as well as suggesting Christmas themed experiences to try.

Virtual Christmas Party Types

Whether it be the annual Christmas drinks with 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 festive parts of the world together.

1. WORK DOs: Many companies are looking to virtual parties to excite their teams. They’re bringing in specialists like us, Circus, to deliver something fun, interactive and memorable.

Take a VR team game that we created for Spotify’s x500 EMEA-based staff. Using artistic 360 imagery from around the world we designed a team treasure hunt which participants could play using the VR headsets they were sent in advance. Each group had its own private virtual meeting room so they could 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 also 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

2. 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!

3. WORKSHOPS: 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. 

4. ENTERTAINMENT: 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.

Christmas Spots to Visit

Take a look at these examples of Christmas places ‘to visit’.

  1. Carnaby Christmas Light Installation Virtual Tour, London. The Street’s iconic Christmas installations come to life this year through a virtual tour. And it’s one you can do with anyone in the world through a ‘shared view’ option. They’ve partnered with charity Choose Love. Get immersed in pink neon light from lightboxes running the length of the street, each with a positive word to give a message of hope, love and unity – and to bring a Carnaby “full of smiles” at the end of this crazy year.
  2. There’s also Visit Britain’s short 2019 video tour of London’s Christmas lights which allows viewers to admire other famous spots in the city. Including Oxford Circus and the giant mistletoe at Covent Garden. A fit for VR glasses, it also comes with Christmas music to get you in that festive spirit.
  3. Berlin’s Christmas market at Charlottenburg Palace has a 360-degree tour, including a version formatted specifically for VR technology. This means you can immerse yourself in the middle of the festive cheer. 250 vendors selling Christmas crafts, traditional German sweets, and Gluwhein – the works!
  4. As for Lapland, there’s a fun livestream of Santa Claus Village (aka Rovaniemi – the official hometown of Santa Claus, in Lapland, Finland). You  simply view the village’s main square in real time, which, interestingly, is crossed by the Arctic Circle. This same village produces Santa Television with a whole host of video messages from Santa himself. Some delightful, some totally mad.
  5. Online shopping? You can do that any time of the year! But if you’re looking for that Christmas inspiration you normally get from wandering around beautiful, festive displays, take a gander at John Lewis’ Virtual Christmas Shop on Oxford Street. You can move around the shop floor, see this year’s Christmas themes come to life and choose tagged products to learn more.
  6. And finally for stunning shopping inspiration, take a look at Circus’ 3D virtual tour of the Christmas “Snow Fairy Floor” of Lush’s Liverpool anchor store. It is quite simply the most beautifully-curated shop floor our crew have ever come across. From the wondrous Christmas decorations to the awe-inspiring Christmas products (think Snow Fairy Bath Bombs, Gingerbread Houses stuffed with sweet Lush treats, Christmas Candy Boxes…) It’s a recent project by the award-winning team at Circus. You can almost smell those gorgeous aromas as you make your way through the experience.

Family Fun Ideas

Below is a list of a few fun Christmas virtual experiences to enjoy with the family. 

  1. Ride with Santa in his magic sleigh on the biggest night of his year. A 360 video experience by Samsung VR. Great fun.
  2. Special Delivery: 360 Google Spotlight Stories (2015). A charming collaboration between Google and Aardman Studios (creators of Wallace and Gromit). It’s a 4-minute long 360 video on YouTube following Santa Claus trying to make deliveries without being caught by a rather nosy caretaker. But the most genius thing about it: users on Android devices get to move around and even unlock characters or trigger events.  Your phone is a window to a story happening all around you. And that story becomes interactive through the sensors on your phone. When you move your phone to various scenes, you unlock mini-stories within the story. You can also watch with Google Cardboard. Tip: you’ll want to watch “Special Delivery” a few times to find all the surprises within the story. Each viewing is unique. You can encounter 10 subplots, 3 potential ways to view the ending, and 60+ moments where you can decide to follow the story in different ways. Superb!
  3. Balloon ride with Santa. A gentle 360 video experience by Brazil’s Black Studios
  4. Santa – The Ride and Fireworks. A 360 video featuring a Christmas rollercoaster and fireworks. Also includes a 360 split screen VR mode.

And finally, not 360 experiences but intriguing personalised experiences for the family, provided by the virtual world…

  1. Santa Claus visit the elf house video”, by Florida Theme Parks. A firm family favourite to bring Christmas magic into your home!
  2. Santa the experience. A paid-for interactive journey to the North Pole with an elf-guided tour. Families get to see Santa’s Mailroom, the Elf’s Bedroom, the Reindeer Stables and Santa’s Toy Factory, and, of course, to meet Santa and Mrs Claus. The team hasn’t done this one yet but looks fun in the absence of our regular Santa’s grottos..

We hope these may bring some festive cheer to your home this Christmas. 

Have a great one. And don’t forget: if you’d like to explore what Circus can do to make a truly special VR experience for you, please contact our award-winning team today.

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