Here Are 10 Clever Tips for Hosting a Digital Holiday Dinner Party

Treat your friends who live out of town to an evening in front of a screen they’ll actually enjoy. 

With the rise of platforms like Zoom, it's easier than ever to stay connected with family and friends who live around the world during the holidays. Sure, getting together around a table for Friendsgiving may be ideal, but it's possible to breathe new life into your digital social life with these virtual hosting ideas. Who doesn't love a good party (even if it's in not face-to-face)?

Virtual Holiday Party Ideas

01 of 10

Plan a time and platform.

Pick a date and time that works for friends across different time zones and send a fun virtual invite to get guests excited. Include which platform you want to host the event on—do you have a Zoom membership or does Zoom make you feel like you're still in an all-hands meeting? Does everyone have Apple devices to do FaceTime or is Google Meet a better platform? Send out the link a few hours before the event starts to make it easy for all guests to access.

02 of 10

Share a playlist.

Have the resident DJ of your group create a holiday playlist you can listen to while you prep, clean up, and virtually gather (consider playing it in another room to avoid sound issues). It'll set the mood and spark some memories—select songs you've danced together to in years past, listened to on trips, or just shared via TikTok.

03 of 10

Coordinate a menu.

Plan a menu of favorite family recipes or trendy Thanksgiving recipes in advance, so everyone can enjoy the same feast. Include links or photos (from family cookbooks or published cookbooks) in a doc that everyone can access and create a group text to share tips as you cook through the dishes. If some guests live close, consider splitting up the work and doing a dish trade before dinner. When you eat, split the meal between appetizers, the main course, and desserts to structure the holiday as you would in person.

04 of 10

Send food to a friend.

Not a group of cooks? No problem. Consider a carry-out Thanksgiving or holiday where each guest sends food to the next guest. Surprise each friend with a takeout meal from their favorite restaurant (delivery services make this easy) or toss in some surprise appetizers and desserts if they dictate their menu preferences.

05 of 10

Build a beverage program.

Calling anything a program sounds fancy, but really it's just a basic plan. Pick a festive cocktail or mocktail everyone in the group can start the night with, and then move on to your selected bottle (or bottles) of wine. One of the joys of a group dinner is passing a bottle around the table, so do the next best thing and uncork something you'll all love and can discuss digitally. Not sure where to start? Use an app like Vivino to determine what will pair well with your Friendsgiving menu.

06 of 10

Pick a holiday pen pal.

Living in another state or country from our family and friends naturally makes us feel distant, but a tangible reminder of why we love each other is especially welcome during the holidays. Encourage friends to send notes or care packages to another guest for Friendsgiving (everyone can draw names) with treats they can enjoy throughout the season—think scented candles, a cookie mix, or a framed photo of a special memory.

07 of 10

Theme your digital background.

Zoom backgrounds can transport us wherever we want to go, so decide on a theme before everyone logs on. Do you want to look at pictures of past get-togethers? Or perhaps play some type of guessing game with everyone's digital background? "If you have a graphic design-savvy guest, get them involved and have them pull together a fun assortment of Zoom backgrounds to commemorate the experience," suggests Jessica Latham, CEO and co-founder of Social Studies. "They can be quirky, or tailored to different households, like a surprise and delight moment for everyone when they log on."

08 of 10

Opt into a tablescape.

Sure, a stylishly set table looks awesome on Instagram, but it's also pleasant to sit at, even if your community is across a screen. Break out the fine china and your favorite tablecloth, or rent a tablescape with Social Studies, which delivers everything you need to set a beautifully designed table (and picks up the decorative rentals afterward). Overachieving hosts can also send Social Studies tablescapes to their guests to curate some virtual unity.

09 of 10

Practice gratitude and reflect.

You may not be going around the table to share what you're thankful for, but spend some time to personally or communally pass the proverbial mic through your chat platform to express gratitude. "Thanksgiving is the perfect moment to pause, reflect, and express what you're thankful for this year," Latham says. Share your Rose (highlights) and Thorn (low points) moments from the year. Be honest, listen, and don't forget to toast at the end.

10 of 10

Stream some holiday content.

End your Friendsgiving or holiday party with a watch party of your favorite holiday movies or episodes of TV shows. You'd be amazed how connected you feel watching the same show at the same time (while on a video chat) in living rooms across the country.

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