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How to Host a Virtual Thanksgiving or Holiday Celebration

November 16th, 2022

“What are you doing for Thanksgiving?”

“Who are you seeing for Christmas?”

“Have any plans for Hanukah?”

This time of year, you’ve probably heard these questions more than once already. Thanks to rising travel costs, flu season and the spread of COVID-19, you might consider entertaining friends and family virtually this holiday season. Maybe you’re a company that’s interested in hosting a virtual holiday party that’s inclusive for your remote employees. Or you want to share special moments with the people you love despite a busy schedule.

Wherever you find yourself during the holidays, it’s important to stay connected. At Earthlink, connections are what we’re all about.

However you choose to celebrate the season, if you’re ready to host your first virtual gathering, here are the top tricks and tips you should know to keep things merry and bright.

family and friends hosting virtual thanksgiving and drinking wine

Secure a fast internet connection

You won’t be able to host a virtual event if you’re internet is slow and unreliable. Buffering, lagging or dropped calls are the quickest ways to dampen the holiday spirit. Make sure your connection is reliable and fast beforehand.

First, check to see what kind of internet you have. If you have cable or DSL, it’s probably best to sit out this year as the virtual host. Ask someone with a high-speed internet option to host instead.

If you have fiber, wireless or satellite, you’ll be better equipped to handle the speed and connectivity needed. Keep in mind any data caps or throttling your provider may implement on your service. You don’t want to use up all your data hosting a virtual Thanksgiving and have no data left for Black Friday shopping.

Next, check the speed of your internet. When you signed up for an internet plan with your provider, you likely chose a speed plan based on your needs and how many devices you use at home.

But just because you signed up for a certain speed doesn’t mean you’re getting it. Take our free internet test to see how fast your current speeds are. Ideally, you should be aiming for speeds of at least 10-25 MBPS to host your virtual holiday event. If your speeds are too slow, it might be time for an upgrade to a faster plan or a different provider.

Plan the day

While a virtual get-together doesn’t require as much planning as an in-person event, you should still coordinate a date and time that works for your guests. Make sure the schedule works for as many attendees as possible. The more, the merrier! Consider taking a poll with guests to see what dates and times are best.

Once you’ve settled on when, you still need to pick a “where.” Don’t forget to select a service to host your virtual event. Between Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Discord, Microsoft Teams and many others, there are several video services to pick from.

When you settle on a video chat platform, make a calendar invite and send it to all your prospective guests. Keep in mind how long you want the event to last and consider posting the itinerary to the event invite.

Make sure your guests have all the details, like what app or link to use, if there’s a meeting passcode or a limit on how many guests can join the call. Ironing out the details before your big event will ensure it goes smoothly.

Set the mood with music, activities and games

Just like an in-person party, a virtual party is all about keeping up with holiday tradition. From decorations to music to games, you can still keep the merriment light for a virtual holiday celebration.

Create a holiday playlist and encourage your guests to share their favorites. During the call, play your playlist via YouTube or Spotify.

Show off your brightly decorated Christmas tree or Thanksgiving crafts. Done your ugliest holiday sweater and make a contest out of it. Dress up your pets so they can join in the fun.

Games that offer an interactive virtual substitute are the perfect activities for your event. Many websites offer games such as virtual bingo and Words with Friends. Or stick to the classics like charades, name that holiday tune or holiday trivia.

Are holiday movies part of your holiday traditions? With Teleparty, you can watch shows and movies together through several streaming platforms, including Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and more.

When in doubt, look up virtual holiday party games or crafts for more ideas.

Share your favorite recipes

Of course, half the fun of winter holidays are the delectable dishes. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to share food through the screen at your virtual event. But there’s no reason you can’t all enjoy the same dishes.

Either as prep or a fun activity during your virtual event, share your favorite holiday recipes with guests. Model it like your own Thanksgiving-themed cooking show! Share a secret family recipe for hot chocolate or your favorite cookie recipe for Santa.

Want to get competitive? Encourage your guests to show off their skills making gingerbread houses. Show off each entry, take a vote and award the winner with a special gift or honor.

Host a gift exchange

Though gift-giving isn’t required for your virtual event, it’s called “the season of giving” for a reason.

If you’re planning well in advance, a gift exchange is a great way to spread cheer. Tell your friends and family to ship their holiday gifts and wait to open them for the virtual party.

You can keep it easy by sending everyone the same holiday gift box, full of treats, snacks, beverages, accessories and more. Pack them yourself or order curated ones online.

If shipping presents is too costly or cumbersome, e-gift cards are always an option.

Missing Thanksgiving dinners or holiday celebrations doesn’t need to become a tradition. Virtual holiday parties might be right for you and your family this year. Celebrate the holidays wherever you are.