For this year’s celebration, many people are excited to gather in person again as the country stays on Alert Level 2 which means there are lesser restrictions and more fun activities to do. However, the Department of Health (DOH) urges employers to still hold Christmas parties virtually for the second time during the pandemic. This means creative ideas for gathering from a distance will still be key to helping friends, family, and colleagues celebrate together—finding ways to tie in virtual events and hosting in-person activities. This is where a happy medium introduces itself: the hybrid party, in which some people gather in person and others connect virtually to celebrate together.
While people still can’t celebrate Christmas like they used to pre-pandemic, a Twitter report showed that the holiday season remain to be a “joyous occasion” for Filipinos based on their vibrant conversations in the platform. It’s just a matter of recreating traditions in more accessible, safe, and secure ways.
Hybrid events may look and feel different, but they can still be fun, festive, and memorable with a little thoughtful planning.
“At HP, we’ve really harnessed technology and figured out how to continue connecting while miles apart and still keep that fun interactive experience like we’re just chatting and sitting in one table,” says Christian Reyes, Philippines Managing Director of HP Inc.
Whether you’re planning a simple Christmas dinner with friends, family Noche Buena, or an office holiday party, here are fun, creative ways to bring everyone together this year, wherever they are.
Share the ambience
Engage your virtual guests’ senses to create an experience that feels delightfully different from their day-to-day Zoom meetings and mimics what’s happening in the room. For example, if your in-person decor includes Christmas lanterns and fake poinsettia, send virtual guests smaller-scale versions for their home office and have them download Pinoy-themed and other festive Zoom backgrounds. Browse through various designs and print holiday craft activities and decorations for in-person guests on a high-quality home printer like the new HP Smart Tank 700 series available at Lazada and Shopee.
Send links to the same activities to remote guests so everyone can get creative together. Prepare home-style Bibingka, one of the Christmas food staples, as a gift for all attendees. If you want to make it a little more exciting, send virtual guests the ingredients so they can also make their own special versions.
Pre-record holiday-themed videos to watch together
Pre-recording content can help create communal experiences and level the playing field between in-person and online guests. A company might record an uplifting holiday message from the CEO, or prepare special performances from members of the team who are not afraid to showcase their amazing talents. For family get-togethers, ask some to film their greetings or special messages to the one they pick as Secret Santa.
Host a hybrid game or karaoke night
With the onset of virtual gatherings, many platforms have popped up to offer a variety of fun activities and games to choose from. Mentimeter and Kahoot are two of the most used for questions, polls, quizzes, and the like where responses from participants are showcased in real-time. You can create your own trivia quiz or choose from their templates. Zoom even have built-in apps that also deliver the same interactive experience. If the group feels more like singing Christmas carols, you can also host a hybrid karaoke party over Zoom. You can even mail virtual guests their own karaoke mic.
Organize a multi-location gift exchange
Draw names or use the free Secret Santa generator Elfster to match up gift givers and recipients. Ask everyone to mail their gifts well in advance — no peeking! — and then have everyone open their presents during your live event. Play a Spotify holiday playlist with suggestions from all of your guests during gift opening.
Book a hybrid or virtual experience everyone can join
Or, instead of physical gifts, give experiences people can do together. Set up a holiday dessert tutorial or partner with a local business to arrange charcuterie workshops. Guests can post pictures of their creations on social media, and the one with the most likes wins a prize. Other experiences to explore include a virtual tour of your Christmas decorations at home or in the office and inviting a live band to serenade the guests.
Capture everything in fun video playback
Apart from taking virtual group photos and being creative in adding image filters or actual photo booth-like props, what makes an experience extra memorable is if you can capture the whole session and be able to replay it after or in the next year’s celebration as a look-back. You can task the most skilled in editing among the team or family to add some other video and sound effects that would make the recording more fun to watch and share on social media.
Whether you’re imagining something immersive or trying simple touches like festive Zoom backgrounds and a shared holiday playlist, we can all agree that the most important consideration for any celebration this year is staying connected while being mindful of each other’s well-being and safety. It’s being able to spread nothing else but love and care no matter what. This, after all, is the spirit of Christmas.
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