The halls are decked, the punch is poured, the festive scent of wintry pine hangs in the air. You may have just moved into a new house, but you’re a pro—and you’re already ready to host your first holiday party. Your first virtual holiday party, that is.
If you’re disappointed that you can’t physically welcome friends and family into your new home to show off the space and spread some cheer, don’t be. You can host a pretty fantastic fête online. And when you stop to think about it, you’re actually lucky, because, really, who can move all of their physical belongings to a new place, set them up, and be party-ready within a few weeks? No mere mortal, we say.
Plus, if there’s anything 2020 has shown us, it’s that your internet connection is highly important. If you don’t have speed and reliability, your ability to do everything from joining a work meeting to birthday toasting a friend to visiting grandma is compromised. When you move to a new house, you have a chance to make your internet work better for you from Day 1 and stay connected more easily. Switching to the Verizon Fios 100% fiber-optic network or transferring your current Fios service before you move will mean your life is smooth sailing from here on out—at least when it comes to anything digital. (We’ll leave quandaries like space-saving interior design and actually keeping your succulents alive to the pros.)
But for now, let’s get back to your soiree: Gather ‘round (the screen) and listen up. We’re about to share a formula for the coziest virtual party you can imagine, one that comes together easily and will let you show off your new home—and your hosting skills—in style.
4 Weeks Before: Write out your shopping list
Welcoming people into your home requires all sorts of supplies; welcoming people onto your screen requires fewer—but they’re arguably more important. First things first, you’ll need a super-fast, super-stable internet connection. Typically, that’s a fiber-optic network. (If your new house is already wired for Fios, you can even set up your network without a technician.) Planning to take everyone on a full tour of your new abode and yard? Consider ordering a network extender. Next on the list is a smartphone, tablet, or laptop with a video camera, which we’re sure you already have, so let’s think bigger. If you buy a streaming devicecompatible with your equipment, you can stream your guests right to your TV, which is much better than staring at a tiny screen all night. Once the party’s over, it won’t go to waste; cast Fios TV or any other service from your phone to your flat screen—which looks quite nice on that wall above the fireplace, if we do say so ourselves.
3 Weeks Before: Get your guests on the same (musical) page
You’ve set the date and found just the right snowy GIF for your email invite. Before you hit send, consider the biggest mood-setter for any gathering: the tunes. Are you going with a classical vibe? A holly-jolly, jingle-jangle mood? Something more dinner-party chic? Start putting together a playlist and streaming it on your Bluetooth speakers as you’re arranging and rearranging your new furniture to make sure it’s The One. Send out a link with your digital invite. If you’re too busy settling into your house to play DJ, ask your guests to share a few songs when they RSVP, then simply put the songs together and send a link before go-time.
2 Weeks Before: Plan your happy ending
No seasonal celebration is complete without sweets. Before your bash, we suggest binge watching plenty of baking shows for inspiration. (You can start watching TV with the Fios TV app as soon as you sign up for service, even if you haven’t moved yet.) Mail a recipe for a simple dessert like sugar cookies along with sprinkles or icing so you can all share the same treat the night of the party.
1 Week Before: Announce your 1st Annual Cheeseboard Contest
If they were coming to your house, they’d be bringing hors d'oeuvres anyway! Challenge your revelers in advance to create their version of the best cheese or charcuterie board ever. (There are plenty of social media accounts you can scroll for inspo.) During appetizer hour, each household’s fromage enthusiast can reveal their creation—before eating it, of course. Who will be crowned the Big Cheese? Send an online poll through your video platform for anonymous voting. Trust us: This one’s likely to get spirited, even if there’s no, well, cheddar on the line.
5 Days Before: Create a custom scent
As you may remember from your recent adventures in real estate, there’s a reason open houses smell like freshly baked cookies and clean laundry. Real estate agents understand there’s truly no smell like home. Put the same principle to work for your affair. To make everyone feel like they could be in the same space, send a suggested fragrance combination to simmer on the stove: A few sprigs of rosemary along with lemon slices, orange zest, and a splash of vanilla extract smells about as close to an enchanted forest as you can get this side of Narnia. Another place you can find that scent? Online. Consider ordering premade scent packets to fill the simmering needs of a less-than-crafty crew.
3 Days Before: Arrange your table
Your cooking prowess won’t be on display, but your hosting skills will be. If you’re planning to parody a sit-down feast, share a digital template for place cards that your guests can print out so your tablescapes all look similarly tantalizing. A seasonal decoration or ornament also would be lovely. If kids are involved, send one they can print out and color in.
1 Day Before: Download your games
Just like an in-person event, no virtual function is complete without an amusement or two. Luckily, online games abound. All you need to decide is which ones you’d like to play: Is your group the printable scavenger-hunt sort? Or would they rather race to figure out what carol is represented by a group of emojis? Maybe you’d like to go head-to-head in a battle of holiday movie trivia, team up for Christmas charades, or play Hanukkah-themed bingo. Whatever your group’s energy level, there’s a game for that.
Day-of: Put your equipment in place … and relax
Sure, you may want to arrange your speakers or webcam before logging on, but that’s pretty much your only day-of task. The best part of a virtual party? By the time it rolls around, there’s no need for last-minute errands or panicked shenanigans (those fancy guest towels for the powder room never seem to find themselves, do they?). So sit back, relax, and stay away from the cheeseboard; you’ve got a chance to bring this thing home.