White elephant and secret Santa parties are both big parts of the holiday season. Whether you traditionally host at work or for your family and friends, you might be concerned about how to bring it all together during a season when more people choose not to attend large gatherings. If that’s the case, hope isn’t lost — you’ll just need to make allowances for the occasion and plan a virtual party instead!
It’s fairly straightforward in the sense that it still involves the same details. You’re still exchanging Christmas ornaments and other gifts, but you’re doing it all virtually instead. Part of the joy of the holiday season is enjoying the expressions on others’ faces as they unwrap their presents, and going the digital route allows you to keep that tradition alive. It’s just a more updated way of going about it, with the added benefit of enhanced safety. Here’s everything you need to know to pull it off.
Treat this just as you would any other virtual gathering. Jot down your guest list, check it twice, and get to work inviting everyone. The beauty of the modern world is that there’s truly a platform for everything, including virtual parties. Select one that allows you to enter each attendee’s name and email address. It then mixes everything up and matches each person with another, indicating who’s responsible for buying for whom. Of course, you can do this the old-fashioned way, too, and choose each person yourself. But if your list is long, you’ll appreciate the assistance from some good old technology.
Remember that at this stage, you’ll need to establish a budget so you don’t have to worry about one person purchasing a lavish cashmere turtleneck and another purchasing something that costs considerably less. To avoid such scenarios, choose a reasonable budget for each gift so that everyone’s playing in the same field.
For a virtual party, it’s likely everyone will just hop online and browse for the perfect gift instead of physically going to a store, wrapping it up, and dropping it off at the post office. Of course, that works well too if it’s the person’s preferred shopping method. No matter what, you need to allow everyone enough time to shop and ship. To ensure the festivity of the moment, set a few ground rules, too.
At the forefront is the concept of presenting something that actually looks festive. And that means reminding everyone the gifts should be wrapped so they can be unboxed live on camera! Sending a gorgeous pair of women’s gloves in its original packaging, without any type of holiday box or package, takes away from the spirit of the occasion. Just include a friendly reminder so that everyone stays within the realms of the rules.
While it’s not essential, it might be fun to create a theme of some kind so that everyone has some sort of starting point for their gifts. A food theme means all attendees can focus on baked goods, savory snacks, and sweet treats galore. Wearable gifts mean people can go all out with anything from a cozy fleece vest that’s perfect for the season to a graphic T-shirt emblazoned with a fun print.
Just make sure that you inform everyone of the theme well in advance of the party. Someone may have something very specific in mind, and this gives attendees a chance to plan, plot, and budget accordingly.
A virtual party isn’t the same as an in-person gathering, of course, but the spirit of the festivities is the same. The key difference is in how it’s organized. You might choose to have everyone open their gifts at a specific time to ensure that each present (and person!) gets its time in the spotlight. What ensues is certain to be plenty of fun, enjoyment, and laughter as you all admire the gifts given.
Another idea, if you’re more inclined to change things up a little bit, is to request that everyone deliver the gifts directly to you. You’ll then open a gift for each attendee on camera. This allows for people to “steal” or trade gifts if they want. Make a note of who ultimately receives which item — you don’t want to accidentally send those Christmas kitchen and dining goodies to the person who doesn’t even eat chocolate! This idea works best when all of the guests live locally to you, so you can request that they drop off the items, and you can easily drop off their gifts. It may also be more practical if your guest list is limited to just a select number of people.
Once you’ve created the guest list and made the plans, you can enjoy the best part of the holiday season: spending time with the people you care about most. What better way to enjoy some laughter and make some memories — just like old times.