9 Safe Holiday Party Ideas for 2020 Celebrations

These holiday party ideas are helpful for virtual and in-person events this season.
Brittany Anderson

Brittany Anderson


With the holidays coming quickly and parties underway, we’ve gathered a round up of safe holiday party ideas from event professionals to safely celebrate this year while keeping the COVID-19 pandemic top of mind. Everyone wants to get in the holiday spirit and it’s important to do so safely!

If you are hosting an in-person holiday themed party, we recommend following guidelines provided by the CDC, taking all necessary precautions, and incorporating some of these ideas into your planning process. Everyone wants to get in the holiday spirit this year.

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Here are 9 ideas from real event professionals for safer holiday parties this year.

Photo: Shyntartanya/Shutterstock.com

Go Virtual

The safest of all holiday party options is to host a virtual holiday party. Whether you’re planning a virtual office holiday party or for a virtual holiday party at home with your family, the possibilities are endless. There are 6,000 vendors available on The Bash to help make virtual events just as special as in-person holiday events. 

“The holidays are a time for gathering, a time for family and friends, toasts, good wishes, children's laughter and joyful cheer. This year with all the uncertainties going on in the world those special holidays may look a bit different, but there is no reason why we can’t have a little bit of fun while keeping everyone safe. Zoom parties don't have to be boring,” shared Lilia Shatnaya, Designer and Owner of Plume and Stone

Here are some unique and exciting virtual party ideas: 

Paint and Sip

Lizzy Chan of Lizzy Liz Events shared her tips for hosting a virtual paint and sip! This type of event is perfect for holiday office parties  or just a casual girls night in with friends. 

“We are planning a virtual paint and sip night for our clients. We hired John Garcia, an artist who has prepped and outlined all the canvases, created a kit with paintbrushes and paint that will be mailed to their family and friends.”

“For food, we are DoorDashing dinner from local restaurants to support local businesses. We have also hired Dj Keelez to MC and provide music and entertainment for our evening!” With a paint and sip you can also incorporate wine tastings that the host can prepare in advance and email out to guests.

Magic Shows

“Another idea, we have hired Johnny Wu, who is a magician and mentalist. He has been offering virtual magic shows via Zoom, and our corporate clients are in love with him. We are creating fun customized masks to include their monograms, family crest, fun quotes and bitmojis!” shared Chan.

Pro Tip: You can easily hire a magician offering virtual services and shows on The Bash.

Classic Holiday Fun

“As the holidays approach and we are celebrating differently this year to keep our loved ones safe, there are some ideas to still make the holidays special. If you're hosting a virtual Holiday, come up with some games you can play online with your family and friends or do a virtual Christmas movie viewing,” shared Kari Dirksen, CEO and Lead Planner of Feathered Arrow Events.

“You can all plan to show up with your own treats, hot chocolate or cider and make it feel like you're all together. Another option is to still do Secret Santa and open gifts together on Zoom. Find ways to have fun and enjoy the time even if you're not in the same house this year,” says Dirksen.

Glam Pajama Party

“New Year’s Eve is the perfect opportunity to throw a glam pajama party (because let's be honest - we spent half the year in pajamas anyway). Invite some friends to a zoom party and tell everyone to put on their most luxurious PJ's, satin robes and feather slippers for an old Hollywood glam look. Sparkly earrings and pearls will finish off the outfits. Pop the champagne, toss the confetti at midnight and toast the new year!” shared Shatnaya.

Awards Night Party

Shatnaya also suggested, “Another fun activity for a zoom party with friends is to have a virtual award ceremony. Collect votes beforehand from all the participants and have everyone vote on categories such as "Best cook", "Worst or most embarrassing zoom story", "Funniest person", "Biggest Life change in 2020", etc. Present the winners with virtual certificates on New Year’s Eve”. 

“A year in review is a fantastic way to recap. Have everyone submit something that happened in current events, as well as personal events and compile a list. Read it on New Year’s Eve to reflect on all the things that happened. Sure, no one will ever forget the most unprecedented year 2020, but putting your list in a time capsule will be an amazing and special way to commemorate it,” says Shatnaya.

Pro Tip: If you're hosting or attending a virtual holiday party, don't forget to use a custom Zoom background.

Plan in Advance

Planning in advance seems like a no brainer. These small details of planning will be so important when it comes to hosting a safe in-person holiday party in 2020.

“We feel that the key to successful holiday celebrations is incorporating recommended safety measures into all planning. We have also found that planning for individual experiences and smaller gatherings guarantees a more comfortable environment for all. Individual dining experiences can be customized with personal menu needs and complete with custom packaging experiences,” shared HoneyFitz Events

Small Guest Lists

If you’re hosting in-person, dinner party style events with those in your immediate family and circle is key. Just because it’s a smaller celebration, it doesn’t mean you can’t go all out! AJ Williams, Founder and Creative Director at AJ Events shared, “Keep things close—both for safety and to make it feel special! For example, I’m having an intimate dinner for 8 with people I know and love and hang out with on a regular basis.”

“Even though it’s eight of us, I’m hosting a décor-filled celebration with thank you notes as place cards, a holiday fall inspired table full of flowers and harvest vegetables, and candles. I have card games with poker chips for a bit of challenging fun. My family is celebrating within their households and we will check in with them throughout to share stories!” 

Photo: Wild Whim Design + Photography

Pre-Set + Individually Plated Foods

Preparing food ahead of time in individual servings in one of the safest ways to handle this part of your event. This may be easier (and less work for the host!) if you hire a caterer. “Choosing to serve food that is pre-set and individually plated will lessen close contact as opposed to serving food buffet or family style.” shared Maria Chi, of  Peppermint and Co. Ltd..

“For in person parties, set up hors d'oeuvres stations in various parts of the space with designated areas where guests can eat and social distance. Give out personal party bags that contain small bottles of Champagne, pre-packaged utensils, snacks, individual streamers and horns.” shared Lilia Shatnaya, Designer and Owner of Plume and Stone

Elevated Sanitizing Experiences

“It's 2020, which means it is essential to keeping events safe and sanitary. However, staying safe can still feel elevated! Welcome your guests with a warm sanitizing hand towel upon entry. It serves its purpose but is luxurious at the same time. Leave space between households at your event by creating a soft seating lounge for each, as they enjoy connecting with others.”

“Hand sanitizer and hand washing stations are great, but take them up a notch with yummy smelling soaps maybe branded for your event or matching the scent of your florals. Have a personal cookie or gingerbread decorating station so you can all enjoy with space, “ shared Nora Sheils, Founder of Bridal Bliss.

Photo: Halfpoint/Shutterstock.com

Custom Face Masks

“If you plan on gathering in person, custom masks are a great idea to keep everyone safe and a fun favor to keep. Masks can be personalized with names, sayings, zodiac signs, and other fun things,” shared Shatnaya.

“Kids” Tables - For All

“Now more than ever it's good to be at the kid's table! We recommend instead of a long communal table for everyone, have smaller tables and divide your guests by groups of people that live in the same household and not by family members as not all family members live together.” says Raul Rodriguez of Lavish Event Rentals.

Support Small Businesses

Ashley Lachney, Owner of Alston Mayger Events shared the following tips: 

“Given what we know about COVID and what we know about celebrations, "just doing something small for now" is a recurring theme. With those still in your household, there's nothing wrong with getting together and pulling out all of the stops for a holiday soiree.”

“With most small businesses in need of patronage more than ever, the holidays are a great opportunity to support your favorites. Don't feel like cooking? See what caterers in your area are offering pick-ups for holiday dinners. Tired of the same old taper candles on your tablescape? Reach out to your favorite florist for a centerpiece and a couple of bud vases to elevate the experience.”

“Your place settings can even be taken up a notch by supporting your favorite rental company. Go all out with linens, napkins, chargers, plates, flatware and glassware. Most companies just ask that items be rinsed and free of food/debris, so you get to skip hand washing and relax!”

“Finally, your local hand-letterer or calligrapher can create place cards and menus for you and those in your household. While you may not get to have everyone around the table this year, memorable experiences aren't cancelled.” 

Continue Holiday Traditions

While we all might be used to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s important to carry on our traditions on a smaller scale. “The idea of intimate gatherings this year is definitely a change of pace! Coming from the catering and events world, I’m used to the hustle and bustle that typically comes with the season.” shared Sarah Kuhlberg, Creative Director at Colette’s Catering.

Kuhlberg shares, “Now, the time to reflect on the true meaning of the holidays, with my small family is so special, and a breath of fresh air. I have small kiddos, so I’m sure we will have hot cocoa nights, watching holiday movies, baking, and lots of Christmas crafting.”

Find more holiday party ideas and planning tips here on The Bash.