The Ultimate Guide to Online Celebrations for Christmas

Family Virtual Celebrations for Christmas

We can confirm Christmas is NOT cancelled! There’s no denying that Christmas 2020 is destined to be a bit different and we are going to be further from loved ones than we’d like. But that doesn’t mean we need miss out on all the fun and festive frolics of old! Jolly Festive readers asked us for help coming up with ways to bring the family together despite the covid challenges, and we don’t like to disappoint. So, just for you, we’re delighted to share our Ultimate Guide to Online Celebrations for Christmas.

Ultimate Guide to Online Celebrations for Christmas

Edit 20/12/20 – Have you seen that Zoom are lifting their 40-min limit on free meetings over the festive period? You will be able to enjoy being online with loved ones as long as you wish during these times:

  1. From Wednesday, December 23, at 3pm until Boxing Day, Saturday, December 26, at 11am.
  2. Unlimited calls will apply from 3pm on Wednesday, December 30, 2020 and last until 11am on Saturday, January 2, 2021.

For all the details, click here.

What’s included in the Ultimate Guide to Online Celebrations for Christmas?

This Guide to Online Celebrations at Christmas is your one-stop shop to a 2020-style festive season, packed full of seasonal cheer and revelry!

Don’t let social distancing restrictions dampen your Christmas spirit this year. We’ve been hard at work gathering and creating a plethora of ways for you to connect and share the festive season with your loved ones, despite the physical limitations currently in place.

So, schedule your video call, download the House Party app, or arrange a time to meet on WhatsApp, and decide which activities you’d like to enjoy together! The problem is going to be fitting them all in!

Note: This post contains some affiliate links. This means that we may earn a small commission when you click on such links, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. We only share links to products we would use ourselves and all opinions are our own. You can read the full disclaimer here.

Online Activities

Family Virtual Celebrations

There’s over 20 activities to choose between, from Christmas jumper fashion shows to building contests, story-time and wreath-making workshops.

Virtual Parlour Games

Playing games over zoom

We’ve got a whole host of virtual party game ideas, including your very own free printable Jolly Festive Christmas Songs Emoji Quiz.

Hosted Online Activities

Family Virtual Celebrations for Christmas

We’ve shared some of our favourite hosted online activities, from escape rooms to murder mysteries and magic shows.

Ideas Off Camera

In case you’re feeling a bit Zoom-ed out, we’ve put together a whole host of ways you can celebrate ‘2020-style’ with family and friends off line too.


Online Activities

1. Christmas Quiz

Quiz

Let’s start with a classic! Whilst we might not be able to enjoy a traditional Christmas Eve pub quiz in its usual venue, quizzes lend themselves really well to an online set-up.

You can of course make your own, or give each household a round or two to prepare, but if you’d like someone else to do the work for you, we’ve found three great resources:

  1. Ken’s Quiz Site has a huge number of both traditional quiz-style questions and paper rounds that will keep you busy well into the New Year! From Christmas adverts to traditions around the world and a chance to test your knowledge of pantos, there’s a round to suit everyone!
  2. Freepubquiz.co.uk have three sets of festive general knowledge questions as well as three rounds specifically about Christmas music. There’s also a couple of printables to get teams working together in each household, and you can finish off with a Christmas cracker joke marathon! Or if you’d prefer, just print out their Big Christmas Quiz – 100 questions and answers listed and ready for use (you’ll just need to finish off the review of the year questions quickly)!
  3. Quiz Coconut have a great ready-made list of 50 questions, which includes a few more unusual challenges.

2. Mince Pie Taste Test

Mince Pie Taste Test

Don’t let the distance stop you from enjoying festive treats together! Our Jolly Festive Mince Pie Taste Test will work just as well virtually as it will in one venue.

Of course the pies will be numbered differently for each household; we think that will just add an extra element of fun when one group proclaim pie five their favourite whilst another has already put them out for the birds!

Or, if you’d prefer to summon your inner Prue Leith and focus on the details of the bake, then why not spread out the tasting with a different brand of mince pie to analyse every day or two?

3. GBBO-style Technical Challenge

Christmas Cooking

One person selects a festive recipe and sends around a shopping list (but no further recipe details!). Schedule a time to get together and, at the beginning of the call, send around the recipe details and set a timeframe.

Stay online and keep each other company whilst you get busy creating a delicious Christmas treat. Then display your finished product for all to admire before ending the call with a drink and chat whilst you tuck in!

These delicious recipe ideas from our very own professional chef in the Jolly Festive kitchen which would be perfect for this technical challenge.

4. Photo slideshow

Looking at Photos

Christmas is a time for nostalgia and reminiscing. And, especially when we have been apart from loved ones too long, it is wonderful to recall those shared experiences over the years. So why not get together for an online photo viewing session?

You could enjoy putting together recaps of each person or family’s 2020, and recalling some of the happier moments over the last few tricky months.

Alternatively you could allocate each household a decade (or an event or two, depending on the group) from which to gather photos? Take turns sharing screens, and relish the laughter (and tears) as you remember fabulous shared memories.

5. Virtual Hot Chocolate break

Jolly Festive Hot Chocolate Gift Mug

Of course, online celebrations for Christmas need not all be about full-scale activities. You could simply schedule a time for a catch up, hot chocolate in hand, and enjoy a good natter.

If you’d like to make more of an occasion of your hot chocolate break, we would suggest a little advance preparation. You can easily create a letterbox-friendly package of luxury homemade hot chocolate mix and selection of toppings to post out ahead of your planned virtual get-together.

Warmed by both the hot drink and your thoughtfulness, this activity is guaranteed to spread Christmas cheer with your loved ones!

6. Paper Chain Challenge

Paper Chains
Paper Chains. Image Credit: Stephanie Chapman. Flickr. CC BY 2.0. Adapted by Jolly Festive.

Everyone will need some ready-to-make paper chains for this quick and easy bit of festive fun! Make your own if you prefer but be sure to have the glue close at hand as speed is of the essence here!

With a timer set for three minutes, everyone gets busy making the longest paperchain they can. When the buzzer goes, compare how many rings you each managed to include. (You can thank us later for speeding up the Christmas decorating too 😉 .)

7. Cocktail Creator

Christmas Cocktails

Looking to have a very Merry Christmas? Harness your inner Tom Cruise and become your own bartender for the night!

You could either agree to get ingredients in-house in advance for a particular cocktail to enjoy together, or have fun dusting off the spirits in the cupboard to see what weird and wonderful cocktails you can design yourselves. Kudos for any festive flair that can be included!

Jolly Festive’s Christmas Cocktail Round-Up has twenty fabulous seasonal creations to get you started. We have a mocktail round-up too for those who prefer an alcohol-free tipple.

8. Story Time

Create your own Jackanory with the elder members of the family hosting regular story time for the littlies. With so many wonderful Christmas classics to enjoy, you’ll want to start early with this beautiful tradition.

For younger children we’d recommend How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Father Christmas Needs A Wee & One Snowy Night.

For older children, chapter books are a wonderful way to savour a story together over a week or two. The Christmasaurus, A Boy Called Christmas (and its two sequels), and of course Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol are all super choices.

And of course no Christmas Eve is complete without a rendition of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas! Download your free printable version below.

'Twas The Night Before Christmas Printable (1)
'Twas The Night Before Christmas Printable (2)

9. Building contest

Lego and Other Toys

This challenge can be played individually or by household. First, gather your building equipment of choice. From LEGO to playdough, items from the garden or even just a pen and paper, you can choose to all have the same equipment or vary for each participant.

Someone shouts out a festive theme and sets a timer for five minutes. Each group or person then gets busy creating.

When the timer sounds, show off your Tate Modern-worthy creations! This could be a great way to encourage reluctant family members to get involved in the decorating the house as well!

10. Spa Night

Zoom Spa Night anyone? Set up one device playing a spa meditation-style background video such as the one below. Then everyone raid their beauty stores, and see what facemasks and nail polishes are hiding, or treat yourselves to some new products.

Each pour yourself a glass of water and add some cucumber, mint or lemon slices, and prepare a plate of fresh sliced fruit. Then hop on your video call and enjoy relaxing together whilst you mask up, buff & polish away, and catch up on the latest gossip.

11. Gingerbread House competition

Honeywell Biscuit Co Gingerbread House Kit
Honeywell Biscuit Co Gingerbread House Kit. Image Credit: Honeywell Biscuit Co.

Organise your own Gingerbread House Showstopper competition! Either leave everyone to make their gingerbread walls and gather the decorations. Or, you can post out gingerbread house kits in advance, such as this gorgeous set from Honeywell Biscuit Co.

Then agree a time for everyone to go online and enjoy decorating your houses together. Showcase your virtual gingerbread village on social media afterwards to spread Christmas cheer with others too.

12. Gingerbread Selfies

Gingerbread Men

Keeping with the gingerbread theme, why not bake some gingerbread men and women, and then again hop online together to enjoy decorating.

You could do selfies and then try to recreate the whole online group. Make sure you leave lots of time to enjoy comparing biscuit form to the real thing; this activity will surely end in giggles all round!

13. Virtual Christmas Book Club

Reading at Christmas

Why not gather a small group and select a festive read to enjoy? Then arrange a call for drinks and discussion to see what people thought of it. We love this list of twelve Christmas books to read by Prima if you would like some ideas.

14. Have a Wrap-off!

Wrapping

Everyone wraps a Christmas gift to a pre-agreed standard (ribbon? bow? shape of present?) before the buzzer goes. See who has the superior wrapping skills!

Once you’ve done the basic gift wrap, you can take this challenge up a notch by adding additional rounds: one-handed, with your hands tied together, blindfolded, unusual shape gift, etc.

If you’d prefer not to be wasteful with wrapping paper, either use old newspapers or wait until after Christmas morning to play this game and reuse larger pieces of wrapping from gifts received.

15. Wrap Scene

Wrapping Paper Aftermath
The Other Side. Image Credit: Erich Ferdinand, Flickr. (CC BY 2.0). Adapted by Jolly Festive

Speaking of wrapping paper leftovers, why not use them for a game of ‘Guess the Movie’? Each household uses their wrapping paper discards, and any spare boxes, wrapping paper rolls, etc to create a scene from a movie for other groups to guess.

Go to town completely if you want and dress up as the characters in the scene too!

16. DIY Christmas Jumper Fashion Show

Christmas Jumper Ornament

Create your own virtual catwalk! Each person creates their own homemade Christmas jumper from items found around the house. Then hop online to strut your stuff on the living room catwalk and marvel at each other’s handicraft skills (or lack thereof!).

17. Origami Christmas Trees

With one device sharing the video below, create your own craft workshop!

These origami Christmas trees from Crafty Daily are really pretty and a good beginner-level design to follow as well. They’ll make a fabulous forest decoration for your mantlepiece or sideboard!

18. Learn the art of Wreath Making

Christmas Wreath

Why not sign up together for an online wreath workshop? There are a whole host of workshops being offered which can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home.

Of course these can be attended individually. But we love the idea of sharing the experience so you can discuss the details and your ideas with a friend or loved one afterwards. Check out Eventbrite for workshop availability.

Or, if you’d prefer to switch wreath creation for table centrepiece design, our wonderful wreath inspiration expert, Lisa Darban Bespoke Floristry, has an online event on 22 December 2020. Details can be found here.

19. Synchronised Movie Night

Movie Theatre Listing

Get the popcorn in and your PJs on! Then settle down with the TV and your device of choice to share a synchronised cinematic experience.

Whether you chose to do your own Opening Night extravaganza or put on an old favourite that you’re happy to chat through, the evening is made extra special when shared with the ones you love.

You can agree to put a movie on in the background and face your devices towards each other to extend your sofa to share virtually with your loved ones. Alternatively, use an app to synchronise the watching. Netflix Party is specifically designed for simultaneously watching of Netflix programmes with a chat feature at the side of the screen to share comments. And there are similar apps available for some of the other streaming products.

Jolly Festive Christmas Movie Bingo Flyer

Be sure to check our free Christmas Movie Bingo game and add an extra layer of fun to your festive movie viewing! There’s a family version and one just for the grown-ups!

20. Drinks Tasting

Christmas Wine Tasting

There’s no need to miss out on your Christmas drinks this year. But, what about taking things up a notch and doing a tasting session instead?

If you live close to one another, you could each drop a bottle of pre-agreed choice (someone sorts the white wine, another group red, rose or bubbles?) around to the other households in advance. Wrap the bottle before you hand it over for a blind tasting!

For those further afield, either agree together on the contestants and each household purchase their own bottles, or find a set of miniature bottles to send to everyone in the post. We love these tasting gift sets from The Whisky Exchange or what about these craft beer mixed crates from Best of British Beer?

21. Christmas Karaoke

Belting out Christmas tunes in a slightly off-key fashion is surely a festive tradition up and down the country?!

We’re not sure that the online factor adds positively to those dodgy notes but who cares?! This is about celebrating the season in all its glory and having fun with loved ones. There are all sorts of backing tracks available on YouTube.

We highly recommend including a rendition of The 12 Days of Christmas, complete with actions of course!

What would you like to explore next?


Virtual Parlour Games

Family Virtual Celebrations for Christmas

Another great option for online celebrations for Christmas are parlour games. These can made online-friendly very easily, and there’s a whole host of websites providing free tools to make light of the set-up of these family-friendly games.

Here are eleven of our favourites:

1. Guess the Parcel (20 Questions)

Someone places a wrapped item in view on their screen. Everyone then takes turns asking questions – which can only be answered with “yes” or “no” – to try and guess what might be inside. If no-one has guessed within twenty questions, the presenter of the gift wins!

2. Bingo

Perfect for all ages and group sizes. You can ask each player to create their own board to an agreed size and with a specified number range, or use an online system like My Free Bingo Cards to produce them. Select your bingo caller and off you go!

Bingo

3. Charades

Get Charades Ideas is a great free website which generates charades for a whole host of categories to be acted out to your loved ones online.

4. Name that Tune

Pick a Christmas song, turn your microphone onto mute and start singing as loudly as you desire. First person to guess the song wins!

We love this great use of the online video technology to give a new spin to this musical game classic.

5. Christmas Songs Emoji Quiz

OK, so it’s probably not a traditional parlour game (!) but emoji quizzes are great fun, and this Christmas Song one is perfect for the whole family. Make up your own, or get a free printable copy of the Jolly Festive Christmas Songs Emoji Quiz when you sign up to our newsletter.

6. Would you rather?

Would you rather chat with a reindeer or fly with one? Eat mince pies for breakfast or yule log for dinner? Be a fairy at the top of the Christmas tree or an Elf on the Shelf?

Such a simple game and perfect for online get-togethers, Would You Rather asks people to decide between two hypothetical scenarios. Make up your own festive question set, or use this mammoth set created by The Best Ideas for Kids.

Playing games over zoom

7. Christmas Mad Libs

A classic American game of ‘fill in the gaps’. You can buy the Christmas Mad Libs book from Amazon here. One person is in charge of requesting the words and reading out the final story, while the rest of the group just need their creative hats for their contributions, and can then sit back and prepared to be wowed (and highly amused). A firm favourite at Jolly Festive HQ!

8. Scattergories

Each player is provided with a list of categories and a letter from the alphabet. Once the timer is set, try to come up with the most unusual item you can think of from each category. There’s a point available for every unique answer.

We love this simple free online version from Swellgarfo which would be perfect to display on a shared screen.

Online Get-together

9. Santa Says

Sometimes the old ones are the best! Give Simon a festive make-over by putting Santa in charge of the ‘Simon Says’ instructions this time. Your Santa could even dress up for the occasion if they fancied.

10. Hangman

This game works particularly well with the shared screen whiteboard facility on Zoom (and equivalents). Try to chose festive words to keep the mood Christmassy.

This is a perfect low-key game when digesting a Christmas meal!

Family Virtual Celebrations for Christmas

11. Pictionary

Again, another brilliant one for the shared screen whiteboard facility, or there’s an in-built pictionary game that comes free with House Party.

Choose a theme such as Christmas movies or songs, or if playing with children what about ‘Things you’d find at the North Pole’ and then let people come up with their own ideas. It’ll get harder to draw as the game progresses and the ‘easy’ items have been done!

What would you like to explore next?


Hosted Online Christmas Games

As well as creating your own online versions of games, there is a fast-growing world of tailor-made and hosted online entertainment available. We can scarcely keep pace with what’s on offer but here are a few of our favourites.

Zoom Call Christmas Cartoon

Parlour Games with Jackbox.tv

If you like the idea of someone else sorting the games for you, then Jackbox.tv have a whole host of fun parlour-style games available to enjoy for groups of up to eight.

One purchase of the software is sufficient for the group (which is good as it is a little pricey but we think it’s worth it).

Everyone can participate directly from the Jackbox.tv website (no need to download apps) with your unique game code. Use other devices to stream a video call whilst you play. And, with adult and child-friendly versions of hilarious games like Quiplash and Fibbage, we can guarantee you’ll be complaining of jaw ache from all the laughing.

Macmillan’s Whodunnit? Mystery

An evening of fun and scandalous shindigs whilst supporting Macmillan Cancer Support – what a great combination!

This murder mystery is designed for eight people to join. With outfit and food suggestions as well as a clever plot, it’ll be sure to provide a wonderful evening of virtual festive frolics.

Twinwood Adventures’ Virtual Escape Room

There are numerous online escape rooms on the market but we particularly recommend Morse Code by Twinwood Adventures.

Guide your avatar to infiltrate the enemy’s watchtower in war-striken Britain, and share the package and morse code plan with HQ within 60 minutes to solve the game.

Hosted parties

If you’d like someone to do all the hard work for you then a hosted virtual party could be the perfect answer. These also work really well for larger groups, or if you have a particular occasion such as a birthday that you’d like to incorporate into your virtual get-together.

MGN Events Virtual Christmas Party
MGN Events Virtual Christmas Party. Image Credit: MGN Events

Non Stop Kids have a Virtual Christmas Party package suitable for all ages and up to 100 participants. Parties last 30, 60 or 90 minutes and can include puppets, magic, slapstick and party games. There’s an option to have the party recorded so you can enjoy watching back again later on as well.

Luxury London children’s party entertainers Sharky & George have created a selection of virtual party options which we’re sure could be designed with a festive feel. From adventure races and music video making to science parties and quizzes, there is something for everyone. Parties can be hosted for up to 40 participants.

If you’re looking for a really special virtual celebration for your friends or an online Christmas party for your office team, then MGN Events have put together a great variety of different online Christmas activities. They even include a wellbeing workshop if you want to get a kick-start on the January detox!

What would you like to explore next?


Ideas Off Camera

If you’re feeling a bit over virtual celebrations, or your loved ones will struggle with the technology, then the activities below will still bring heaps of Christmas cheer without the need to schedule online catch-ups.

Christmas Card Swap or Builder

Christmas cards have taken a bit of a back seat in recent years as more of us communicate regularly online. However, we predict a resurgence for 2020 as people want to share the love by taking the time to write personally. As well as sending handwritten festive messages to your family and friends, why not see if there are others in your community that would enjoy receiving a Christmas card?

Writing Christmas Cards

We also love the idea of a Christmas card builder with one person starting a card for a loved one. They send it onto the next member of the group to add to and so it continues around until everyone has contributed. Then your special someone will receive one really thoughtful card stuffed full of festive cheer.

Kudoboard Creations

Kudoboard Poster
Kudoboard Poster. Image Credit: Kudoboard

If you like the idea of a Christmas card builder but fancy a 21st century twist, why not create a Kudoboard instead? For a fixed fee, an online ‘board’ is created and the link shared for everyone to upload their photos, videos and messages. When complete, the board can be sent to the recipient online as a slideshow, or even printed as a poster to be delivered.

Homemade Advent Calendars

As you may already know, we LOVE homemade advent calendars here at Jolly Festive. They are the perfect way to let someone know just how much they mean to you, and spread Christmas cheer throughout the whole of December.

Creating your Calendar Vision Board

Homemade advent calendars needn’t be onerous or expensive – they come in all shapes and sizes. Their beauty is in the personalisation and thought. Check out Jolly Festive’s guide to creating a Homemade Advent Calendar. It takes you step-by-step through every decision and is packed full of ideas for design as well as what to put inside.

Why not agree with a group of friends to make calendars for each other instead of doing a Secret Santa, or make a calendar for your special someone to give them a December to remember.

Sentimental Advent Calendars

Speaking of homemade advent calendars, two of our favourite calendar ideas are really simple concepts which are guaranteed to bring oodles of heart-warming love to their lucky recipients.

Meaningful Message Envelopes

A beautiful calendar, filled with twenty-four messages from friends and family to enjoy each December day. Read more here.

This gorgeous calendar is so simple to make but fabulously effective. As well as giving pleasure throughout advent, it will result in a lovely piece of wall art to enjoy into the New Year too. Read more here.

Gifts On The Doorstep

If you live near enough and are able to travel, why not drop a gift on your loved one’s doorstep? From a bunch of flowers to an edible gift, there are so many gorgeous items that can be dropped by.

Or, instead of gifting a whole advent calendar in one go, you could pop a daily treat, message or even Christmas joke through someone’s letter box. It’s sure to brighten their December days!

Kindness Calendar Challenge

A fabulous way to embrace the spirit of Christmas in your local community. Why not challenge a friend or family member to complete a kindness calendar with you this December? Have fun sharing stories of the people you meet along the way, and enjoy getting to know your neighbours a little better.

Freezer-ready Christmas Dinner

Christmas Turkey

Do you have loved ones within reach who are self-isolating and will likely spend Christmas Day on their own? Why not prepare the Christmas meal components and deliver them in advance to be popped in the freezer? The Full Freezer has a complete guide on how to prep Christmas Dinner ready to be frozen – get the guide when you sign up to the Jolly Festive newsletter here.

Or, you could even share your meals with those you don’t even know yet via the international Free My Meal campaign.

Shared playlists

Treble Clef Christmas Ornament

Create a kitchen disco for your friends and family! With Spotify‘s free service, you can build as many festive playlists as you wish and share them with loved ones near and far. Combine festive tunes with songs that have special meaning to make for a wonderfully thoughtful burst of Christmas cheer!

Or if you’d like to simply join in the dancing without the work beforehand, we have a whole host of festive playlists for you to enjoy right here.

What would you like to explore next?


We do hope you’ve enjoyed our ideas for Online Celebrations for Christmas. We’d love to hear which activities you decide to share with your family and friends.

For plenty more festive fun at home, click here. And be sure to check back later too as we’re adding new guides and inspiration all the time!

And, be sure to check out our other articles if you’re looking for ideas for homemade advent calendars or handmade gifts.

Ultimate Guide to Online Celebrations for Christmas

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