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How to host a virtual company party

2021 Virtual Company Party: The Ultimate Guide to Throwing One (+ 10 Activity Ideas)

Lawrence Haywood 13 Sep 2021 15 min read

That time of the year again; the time of debauchery, office hijinks and creative/artistic uses for the photocopy machine. Except, no, because COVID has cancelled the end-of-year party, right? Not entirely; not the virtual company party.

At AhaSlides, we’re determined to forge ahead with our traditional year-end shenanigans. We think that taking them online is a great way to reconnect our colleagues and let off some steam at the end of an energy-sapping year.

That’s why we’re sharing our 10 ideas for a virtual company party in 2021, along with tips + tools to make it memorable!

In this Post, We’ll Look at…

Should you Throw a Virtual Company Party in 2021?

Illustration of a virtual company party.
Image courtesy of RSPVify

At the heart of it we think yes; there are a bunch of reasons to throw a virtual office party this year. Maybe your energy and/or budget is lagging after a draining 2021, but rest assured, hosting a memorable year-end bash is not as hard as you think….

Sounds like a lot of effort

Not at all! You can plan a virtual party in under an hour, seriously. You don’t have to put on a full spectacle with singing, dancing and wall-to-wall activities (we actually discourage that), you just need a decent list of things to do together, then just let the party flow.

I’m not a confident host

This one we totally get. It’s not easy to lead the party proceedings when there’s 20 pairs of eyes all looking to you for guidance about what to do next. Don’t worry, there are some simple ways around it…

  1. Hire a professional – You can find plenty of party hosting services online.
  2. Let someone else take the lead – Surely one of the extroverts in your team would love the chance to guide the party.
  3. Use activities as a breather – Once guests understand an activity, they’ll be largely self-sufficient, giving you time to chill.
  4. Don’t be ‘on’ all the time – Relax! Let the conversation flow and take a back seat (this is easier with smaller groups).
  5. Alcohol – Lots of it.

My company is too big

We recommend keeping parties to a maximum of 25 people, but if you’ve got hundreds of employees, you’ll have to be strategic. One way is to split up the parties into different departments and have the head of each department host a party at the same time. Or, you could split groups randomly so that guests have the chance to mingle with co-workers they don’t usually talk to. As long as you have a dedicated host and a setlist of activities per group, you can split them into whatever size you want.

4 Tips for a Great Virtual Company Party

Even if you’ve been hosting online parties throughout lockdown, there’s always ways to make them better:

  1. Make it Themed – Mark this extraordinary occasion with something similarly out of the ordinary. Giving your party a theme creates a communal atmosphere and a lot of talking points for your guests. What’s great about a virtual year-end party is that, in addition to a costume, each guest will be able to decorate their backdrop according to the theme. Check out this great bunch of party theme ideas.
  2. Try to Cater for Everyone – An online party isn’t like a live one; it’s harder for the introverts to hide from the action and harder for extroverts to break out like they’d like. Make sure your activities appeal to the inevitable wide range of personalities in the company and allow anyone to sit out of an activity if it doesn’t chime well with them.
  3. Don’t Dictate – If you’re the one hosting your virtual company party, you’ll be tempted to steer the ship from the get-go. When in fact, for the majority of your party, it’s best to let it drift. Allow plenty of time for idle chat between (and even during some) activities; the goal here is for everyone to feel relaxed in this unfamiliar online setting, not pressured to have fun according to your timetable.
  4. Send them Something – You’d normally have food and drink catered for a live party, right? So why not spend a bit of effort and budget on mailing something to your guests? Food, drink, cocktail making kits, plants, costumes, cinema boxes; the list is pretty endless.

10 Activities for a Virtual Company Party

So without further ado, here’s our list of 10 activities for a virtual company party. Whatever you choose, remember to space your activities out and give your guests a chance to relax.

One more thing: most of these activities were made for free on AhaSlides, a free piece of polling, quizzing and presenting software. You can see how to start creating pulsating party activities for free at the bottom of this article.

Idea #1 – Awards Ceremony

Throwing a virtual awards ceremony

You don’t have to omit any of the pomp and circumstance when it comes to hosting a virtual company party. An awards ceremony online feels just as regal as a live one, the only difference being that no one has to worry about tripping on the stairs or an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction.

There are 2 ways to hold a virtual awards ceremony for an end of year party:

  1. Start off by listing the categories, determining the winners and getting the trophies/rewards. On the night, simply introduce the category, declare the winner and show them their prize over Zoom, with the promise to send it to them soon.
  2. Create an online poll and get everyone in the company (or relevant departments) to put forward their vote for the winner of each category. Once the results are revealed, congratulate the winner and promise to send them their award. This is a great chance to break from tradition and involve all your staff in the winner decision process. The eventual winner will feel appreciated by their fellow colleagues as well as their bosses.

Here are a few categories for your awards ceremony:

🏆 Employee of the year
🏆 Most improved
🏆 Best growth booster
🏆 Best customer server
🏆 Above and beyond
🏆 Calming presence
🏆 The engager

Here are a few sites where you can have trophies personalised and delivered:

Here’s how to create a quick poll so that your team can vote for their preferred winner:

Setting up a vote on AhaSlides for which colleague should win a trophy at a virtual company party.
  1. Ask the question: ‘who deserves this trophy?’
  2. Give a detailed introduction of the trophy category in the description.
  3. Write the names of all the candidates in the ‘options’ box.
  4. In ‘other settings’, choose to ‘hide results’ to reveal them altogether at the end.
Results of a poll for which colleague should win an award at a virtual company party.
  1. Your staff vote for their preferred winner on their phones by visiting the unique URL at the top of your slide.

👊 Protip – If you’ve got a big company with hundreds of employees, you can use a ‘word cloud slide’ to elicit votes. Word cloud slides display the most popular answers in larger text at the center, with answers that are less popular getting progressively smaller and further from the centre. This way, you’ll be able to widen the scope of the candidates and still see a clear winner at the end.

It’s a bit like choosing your favourite Harry Potter character.

Idea #2 – The Price is Right

ben affleck week GIF

Bringing the format of an internationally renowned game show to a virtual meeting is not particularly new (we’ve actually listed a few in this article). Still, here’s something different, something that gives you the chance to play The Price is Right at your virtual end of year party.

For anyone unfamiliar with The Price is Right, the object of the game is to simply guess the price of an object. The person with the estimate closest to the actual price of the object wins that object.

This is a great actvitity for virtual company parties because it’s a game that can instantaneously enliven an audience. When the prizes on offer are pretty valuable, you can expect some lively competition and wildly varied estimations.

Again, there are a couple of ways to make this one:

  • With Zoom – Simply show the object over the camera and ask for estimations. Your audience can give out their estimations verbally, by holding up a piece of paper, or by writing it in the chat box.
  • With AhaSlides – To ramp up the drama, you can easily create an open-ended slide on AhaSlides. This gives your staff a chance to place their estimation and watch as you dramatically whittle down the guesses to the final result!
  1. Create an open-ended slide on AhaSlides.
  2. Type the question ‘how much is this ______ worth?’
  3. Upload a picture of the object to the slide.
  4. In the additional fields box, add ‘name’ as a required field.
  5. In the ‘other settings’ box, choose to show image (this hides the results).
  6. Choose to present the results in a grid, rather than one-by-one.
  1. Your audience joins via the room code at the top of your slide and inputs their estimate.
  2. Once you see that everyone has voted (shown by the hand icon in the bottom-right corner), you can click ‘hide image’ to reveal the estimates.
  3. One-by-one, remove the estimates that were way off, until you get down to a few that were close.
  4. Leave the closest answer and click on it to reveal the winner!

Idea #3 – Talent Show

Napoleon Dynamite Dancing GIF by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

They saw true talent doesn’t need a stage to make itself known, which is just as well in a virtual company party, as there’s not going to be any stage.

Instead, your team get the chance to show whatever homegrown talents they’ve accrued since the start of lockdown. Whether it’s something incredibly stupid or something jaw-droppingly cool, all of your team should have the chance to share their talent if they want to.

Holding a talent show across camera in a confined space may sound like a setback, but it can result in some hilarious and truly creative performances.

This one’s easy:

  1. Just ask who’s up for demonstrating their talent and list all the names in the Zoom chat.
  2. Proceed down the list, with each willing person demonstrating what they’ve got.
Using a scales slide to vote on certain aspects of a talent show at a virtual company party.
  1. At the end of each performance, you could use a scale slide to ask for ratings out of 10. You can ask your staff to rate different aspects of the performance, then select the option for ‘show average line of all statements’ to reveal the performer’s score.

👊 Protip – Naturally, being challenged to present a ‘talent’ in front of a bunch of co-workers isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Don’t force anyone to take part if they don’t want to. It’s also a good idea to wait until later in the virtual company party until everyone’s got a suitable amount of Dutch courage after their 4th martini.

Idea #4 – Team Sculpting

Sculpd pack including tools and materials to create pottery.

Nope, that’s not the new bohemian name for team building. Team sculpting is literal sculpting, using clay, shaping tools, and brushes etc.

It’s a virtual service from Sculpd, in which each of your team will receive a Sculpd pottery pack in the post. Then, at the time of your virtual end of year party, a professional sculptor will join your video call and guide your team through the steps of creating beautiful clay trinkets.

The class runs from about 1 to 1.5 hours and there’ll be plenty of leftover clay and paint for your team to carry on creating. Once again, you can inspire a bit of friendly, banter-rich competition by getting your team to vote for their favourite clay creations.

Voting on the best clay creation at a virtual company party.

Please note that we have no affiliation with Sculpd, we just think their service would be a super neat and unique activity for a virtual company party!

Idea #5 – Scavenger Hunt

Homely scavenger hunt
Image courtesy of Insider.In

If the first thing that comes to your mind here is children scouring the soil for Easter eggs, let’s recalibrate. Virtual company party scavenger hunts are something altogether more conceptual, inventive and captivating.

This one basically involves providing your team with a list of scavenger hunt items that are open to interpretation. We’re talking things like….

  • Something that rotates.
  • Something that rhymes with ‘sage’.
  • Something innocent.
  • Something that often causes jealousy.
  • Something you should really clean more often.
  • Something a king of the 1700s would have been proud to own.
  • Something you’d get fired for if you brought it into the office.

Once you’ve got your list, simply distribute it to your audience on party day. From there, everyone can dash off around their house to club together whatever they think best fits the conceptual prompts of the list.

Count 1 point for each item on the list that you think suitably fits the description. If the link between prompt and object is pretty tenuous, you can ask the team for a vote as to whether or not it should be accepted.

Idea #6 – Virtual Beer/Wine Tasting

Man taking part in a virtual beer tasting over Zoom
Image courtesy of The Manual

Looking to add a touch of sophistication to your virtual company party? Looking to get everyone as drunk as possible so you can have an early night? If either or both, you’d definitely benefit from featuring a virtual beer or wine tasting session in your roster of activities.

There are countless services for this now, considering that many breweries and wineries had to go virtual at the start of lock down. Still, if you don’t want to blow the party budget on a beer/wine sommelier talking you through the rosy aromas of some instantly forgettable beverage, you can arrange this activity yourself.

All you have to do is….

  1. Order a bunch of different wines or beers, either from your local shop or from one of the online retailers on this list. You can either be generous and send the full set to each employee, or give them the checkout share code so that they can purchase the same set for themselves.
  2. Click the button below for a free virtual beer tasting template. You can change the slides to fit the beers or wines in your set.
A discussion slide for a virtual beer tasting using AhaSlides
  1. Share the room code with all your guests on party day, then progress through the slides together as you taste each beer or wine and dicsuss its alcoholic beauty!

Want more? We’ve got more ideas for a virtual beer tasting in this article.

Idea #7 – Company Quiz

Where would we be without the humble quiz? It’s been the backbone of year-end shennanigans for time immemorial, but in 2020 it became an entity all of its own.

Given how effective a quiz is in creating an engaging atmosphere and fostering healthy competition, there are plenty of ways to include one in your virtual year-end company party.

Here’s an easy one…

Start by checking out one of our free-to-use templates. Click the banner below to check out our 40-question general knowledge quiz!

banner heading to the general knowledge quiz on AhaSlides
banner heading to the general knowledge quiz on AhaSlides

⭐ Alternatively, you can check out any of the templates in our ever-growing template library. All available to download and use for free!

In the AhaSlides editor, you have free range to change whatever you want about the quiz. Here are a few ideas specifically for virtual year-end parties in 2021:

  • Add questions or entire rounds about your staff.
  • Have a non-covid news round to see who was paying attention to stories outside of the major one.
  • Change backgrounds, fonts, GIFs and images to fit your style.

Once you’ve got the quiz you want, the rest is a breeze:

  1. On the day of your virtual company party, invite everyone to your quiz, either via the unique URL room code or by sharing the QR code on your screen.
  1. Host the quiz via screen sharing on Zoom. As your team answer on their phones, the results will be updated live over screen share.
Playing a quiz on AhaSlides with a phone during a virtual company party.
Each player’s phone view.
The quiz master's view of a virtual company party quiz on AhaSlides.
The master view over screen share.

Idea #8 – Escape Room

Screengrab of a virtual escape room played over video conferencing software.
Image courtesy of Escape Experience

If you’re not finding it enough of a challenge being locked indoors this year, you can opt to go one level deeper and have you and your team locked in a virtual room!

Much like a quiz, an escape room is uber engaging and fosters some stellar teamwork, all in the name of hearty competition. In terms of virtual team building, it’s up there with the best.

With loads of escape rooms going digital due to COVID, there is no shortage of options for a virtual year-end company party.

Here’s a few we found:

  • Hogwarts Digital Escape Room (free!) – This free escape room takes place entirely on Google Forms. It follows your exploits as a new first-year student at Harry Potter’s school and your attempts to progress through ‘the new muggle trend’ of a no-magic escape room.
  • Minecraft Escape Room (free!) – Another free escape room based on a classic part of child culture – this time the open sandbox game Minecraft. Participants of this one work together to solve Minecraft clues, which are surprisingly suitable for both children and adults.
  • Mystery Escape Room ($75 per room) – This USA-based escape room brought all of its classics online in 2020. They’ve got themes involving pirates, ghosts of Christmas, classic investigators and superheroes, accommodating between 4 and 8 people per room.
  • Paruzal Games ($15 per person) – 6 games with some unique concepts and hidden easter eggs. It’s possible to have parties of between 1 and 12 people.

👊 Protip – Want to know more about playing an escape room from home? Check out this awesome guide from Puzzling Pursuits!

Idea #9 – Family Feud (+ Other Trivia Game Shows)

Family Feud title sequence.
Image courtesy of Onward State

Classic game shows will always have a place in our hearts. They’re the friends that have stuck with us during lockdown, and are now there for us during the virtual year-end party.

Family Feud is one of our favourites, so naturally we jumped at the chance to play it virtually when we heard that we could. If you want to do the same, there are heaps of places online with Family Feud questions and answers that you can use for free:

To take part in this one, split your guests into two teams while you take on the role of host. You can follow the official game rules at this point, or you can simply call up one player from each team to try and guess the most popular answer to a question.

Not confident of your hosting abilities? You can contact the guys at Virtual Survey Says to run the whole thing for you online!

Don’t stop at Family Feud; you could turn your entire virtual company party into one big game show night with some other classic game shows:

  • Jeopardy – Use Jeopardy Labs to create (or download templates of) Jeopardy boards for free. Split your party into a few teams and call on players to answer questions that range in difficulty corresponding to the amount of points they offer.
  • Pointless – Essentially the opposite of Family Feud; Pointless rewards points for the least mentioned answers. Name a category, set up a word cloud slide on AhaSlides, then remove your players’ most popular answers until you’re left with the most obscure.

Idea #10 – Pollapalooza

Pollapalooza sign at a city in America.
Image courtesy of Consequence of Sound

Okay, so we’re using the title here to make this virtual company party idea sound more exciting than it actually is. It might not be the most glamourous, but there’s actually no better time to speak with your team, and collect their opinions through a poll, than an end-of-year party.

Thanks to our good friend alcohol, you’ll likely find your team to be constructively liberal with their opinions. It’s a great time to ask them what they think about the company’s direction, its operation, their personal work, and what improvements can be made.

Here are a few polling ideas and the slides you can use to make them…

  • What did we do really well this year? (open-ended slide)
  • How do you think we can improve for next year? (open-ended slide)
  • Did you reach the targets you set yourself this year? (multiple choice slide)
  • What targets will you set for next year? (open-ended slide)
  • Which of these new designs do you like the best? (image slide)
  • How would you rate your work from the start of the year to the end? (scales slide)
  • Sum up your work this year in 3 words. (word cloud slide)
  • Do you have any questions for me? (Q&A slide)
How to create engaging polls for your workers during a virtual company party.

Remember, polling doesn’t have to be boring. Letting everyone have their say in an open environment can be a perfectly engaging addition to the party, and certainly one of its most constructive.

More Places to Find Virtual Company Party Ideas

Think we’re limiting you to 10 ideas? We’ve got much more where these came from! Check out the other articles on our site and create the ultimate party playlist.

  • 30 Totally Free Virtual Party Ideas – Our mega list of ideas for a virtual party, no matter when you’re throwing it. All games are completely free to set up and use and there’s also a bumper list of free online tools to liven up any no-budget party.
  • 10 Totally Free Virtual Christmas Party Ideas – It’s not too late to plan your online Christmas party. These 10 ideas are completely free and require very little preparation time.
  • 10 Virtual Team Meeting Games – Some great ideas here for the online office. If your team has been working largely remotely this year, the activities you’ll find here will help reconnect them.
  • 10 Virtual Meeting Ice Breakers – When you’re starting a new team, or it’s been a while since the last meeting, these free ice breaker activities will help everyone settle in.
  • The AhaSlides Spinner Wheel – Grab a bunch of ideas from the spinner wheel! The possibilities are endless.

The Ultimate Tool for a Virtual Company Party

AhaSlides lets your present, poll and quiz with ease. It’s a free online tool that focuses on communal actvities; which makes it perfect for a virtual company party.

Most of the ideas you’ve just read were made with AhaSlides. What’s more, you can start making them yourself for free in 3 easy steps:

Step 1 to creating a poll for a virtual company party on AhaSlides - create the question.
Step #1: Create your question on the AhaSlides editor.
Step 2 to creating a poll for a virtual company party on AhaSlides - your audience answer on their phones.
Step #2: Your guests answer your question on their phones.
Step 3 to creating a poll for a virtual company party on AhaSlides - the results are updated in real time on-screen.
Step #3: The results are updated live for everyone to see.

It’s as simple as that! There are so many different ways that you can use AhaSlides; we’re always thrilled to see how our users are coming up with new, creative ways to spice up their own parties and presentations.

Want to get started? Click on the button below to create an account for free!

Feature Image courtesy of The Next Web

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