With a wave of new restrictions being brought in this Christmas, after a year where many have been prevented from seeing their loved ones, connecting with friends and family in other ways is vitally important.
While video conferences might have become common for workplace meetings, they also open the door to staying in touch with loved ones from a distance. Lockdown Presents virtual concerts typically happen over Zoom, which is one of the most common and easy to use video conference tools that doesn’t require logins or downloads.
If you’re planning a virtual get-together or celebration over the Christmas holiday and New Year, here are some ideas for making the gathering more interactive and fun. With a bit of planning, you’ll be amazed at how connected you can feel even over video!
1. Book a musician
Of course we recommend a musical ‘main event’ with a live performer joining your call. You can choose from a wide range of performers, from opera and jazz to pop, to find something that suits your audience. For a big get together we recommend at least a 30 minute concert so you can mix up some interactive elements, with sitting back and listening to the performance. Here are a few ideas for musical sets to inspire you:
- Quiz: Add a bit of healthy competition with a musical quiz. Ask your artist to play the intro/chorus to some songs and the audience get 2 points: 1 for the song name, 1 for the artist/composer. Or try 'Guess which movie this is from?'
- Musical hits: Does your family usually go to the theatre at Christmas? Recreate the magic by booking a singer for your favourite songs from Les Mis or Phantom of the Opera
- Ballet: Lots of our musicians can play some well-loved pieces from the Nutcracker. Any aspiring ballet dancers in the family? Encourage them to dance-along (+ a tutu = cute photo op!)
- Voting: Make it interactive by asking your performer if the audience can vote between which songs they want to hear. Some artists can also take live requests from the audience (though they might not know them all!)
- Singalong / carols: You might want to stay on mute for this one, but choose a few pieces that everyone can singalong with to get that Christmas spirit going
- Dancing: Encourage everyone to get up and dance - it feels really silly for about 3 seconds and then we promise it becomes liberating and fun! Even in front of a laptop at home.
- Drinks reception: Sometimes you just need a break from the intensity of a mass group call. Tell everyone they can sit back, enjoy their drinks and nibbles and just listen and appreciate the performance for a bit.
- Q&A: Don’t miss the rare opportunity for a front row seat at your own private concert, feel free to ask the performer some questions about the music, the composers, their background and what performances they’ve been doing in 2020. You can use the ‘chat’ box on zoom if getting heard above your great aunt is tricky!
- Gifts: Book a concert as a gift for a loved one and have the performer surprise them during a call. They’ll be thrilled to have a front row seat at their own private concert. You can also book a gift certificate if you can’t decide on dates just yet.
2. Have a theme
Get everyone in the party spirit before they join the call and feel united across your screens. Think ugly Christmas jumpers, black tie formal or outrageous colour schemes.
Even with family and friends it can be nice to start a call with a bit of structure to get over the chaos of everyone joining (“CAN YOU HEAR ME?”) and give everyone a chance to say hello. A few ideas; (1) ask everyone to send a funny image to the host who can introduce and share as the party opens; (2) send everyone a simple opening question that they will be asked eg best thing they have discovered during lockdown; (3) get everyone to join with their ‘first drink’ and explains why they chose it or love it.
4. Physical activities
On a long call it’s a good idea to include some activities that get people out of their seats and re-energised. A few ideas:
- In-house scavenger hunt: The host creates a list of physical items and the first attendee to produce them all wins a prize.
- Dressing up race: start a timer and attendees race to get dressed up. Increase the difficulty level by having a theme or being more specific.
- ‘What’s in the sock?’: This always gets some belly laughs. Get people to put an item in a sock and hang it in front of their video, attendees have to guess what is inside.
5. Secret Santa
If you have organised a secret santa, everyone can open their gift during the party. Use ‘Spotlight’ to highlight the person unwrapping. You could add a scoring element and get them to guess before and after they open it who they think it’s from. Of course, there can also be prizes for best and worst gift!
6. Awards & prizes
Do you have a family joker, want to recognise the person who’s always helping out, or tease the one who’s always late? Create a mini awards ceremony. If you have the paid version of zoom you can add a poll too so everyone can vote.
7. Try breakout rooms
If you have the pro plan with Zoom you can use breakout rooms to break the group into smaller chats. This can work well if you have a large audience and it’s difficult to have a real conversation. We find groups of 4-6 tend to work well. You can use breakout rooms for teams for quizzes, or just to mix up who people chat to.
8. Don't forget the intermission!
Don't forget to give people a break to nip to the loo, grab a drink or some nibbles. We try to give everyone a 5-10 minute break before starting a new game or activity so they come back refreshed and energised.