17 Holiday Theme Party Ideas That Work IRL & On Zoom

Marie Lodi
17 Holiday Theme Party Ideas That Work IRL & On Zoom
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By now, you’ve likely traded in your pumpkin spice latte for a peppermint mocha and have the song that truly signals that the holidays are here stuck in your head (Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” duh). With this festive season comes the inevitable holiday get-together, so you’re going to need some fresh holiday theme party ideas at the ready, especially if you’re the one hosting this year.

However, it’s not enough to simply throw a basic holiday party, especially if it’s for the type of crowd that has seen it all when it comes to unique celebrations. Whether it’s a real-life party or a Zoom shindig, you’re going to want to dazzle and impress your guests. No pressure! But seriously, don’t freak out; all you need is a cool and creative theme for your holiday soiree. Easy-peasy.

It may sound intimidating to come up with a party theme, and it can be! But it all depends on what you want to focus on, whether it’s an activity, a dress code or just a way to decorate, so it helps if you know what your guests are into. If your crew loves any excuse to come up with an outfit, you’ll definitely want to throw in dressing up as a factor, whether that may be via a holiday sequin dress or a very ugly sweater.

If they love to cook (or eat, for that matter), you can turn your soirée into a themed potluck or a recipe swap. And if your friends love to sing and dance, then you can make that activity the central point of the festivities with some Christmas Carol-oke (This type of theme can also work on Zoom or any other kind of video conferencing platform, FYI. You can even mute the bag singers!).

We’re making it easier than ever to plan a shindig by having 17 (!) holiday theme party ideas all ready to go. Literally all you’ve got to do is buy the decorations and send out the invites! From ugly sweater parties for pets to a very Mariah Carey Christmas (yes, you read that right), you’ll be sure to find a theme that inspires you. Now, pick your fave, put on some Christmas carols and start planning what to put on your cheeseboard!

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STYLECASTER | Holiday Theme Party Ideas

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Christmas Candyland

Instead of the typical red and green holiday palette, opt for something that will make you and your guests feel like they’ve stepped into Candyland. Simple yet different touches like pastel-colored candy canes, a pink Christmas tree, candy-themed hanging signs and multi-colored peppermint garland can bring some new flavor to your usual celebration.


Junk Food White Elephant

White elephant parties are always a blast because the gifts can vary from items everyone wants to options everyone tries to get rid of. Switch things up and have everyone bring some sort of junk food-themed present to exchange. Think gigantic variety packs of chips or an assortment of chocolate bars. It will be fun seeing what everyone fights over! This is more of an IRL theme, but you can always arrange for snacks to be mailed to virtual guests in advance.


A Very Mariah Carey Christmas

As we mentioned, Mariah Carey is actually the one who lets us know that the holidays are here, so what better way to pay homage than the self-proclaimed Queen of Christmas herself than with a Mariah-themed party? She already has the soundtrack for you ready to go; you can make gluten-free lasagna (her specialty) and even have your guests each dress as Mariah from all different eras. Break out your airbrushed tees, Heartbreaker fans!


Pet Ugly Sweater Party

An ugly sweater party, but for your pets! There is seriously nothing cuter than the idea of a dog in a tiny ugly sweater. We can’t! And if your cat refuses to get in on the fun, you can at least wear a cat ugly Christmas sweater to make up for it!

STYLECASTER | Holiday Theme Party Ideas

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Secret Santa Exchange

A Secret Santa gift exchange ensures that everyone gets a present, which is always nice. But you can put your own twist on the holiday tradition by making it a special theme, similar to the white elephant idea. Ask everyone to exchange handmade gifts, like a handpoured cake-scented candle, cozy wool socks or a personalized present with the giftee’s name on it!


Ornament Decorating Night

Get into the DIY mood by hosting an ornament decorating party. Even guests who consider themselves lacking in the art department will be inspired to make something cute for their tree! As for supplies, you can buy blank ornaments to be painted or adorned with sequins, pom-poms and tassels, or use old magazines to cut out photos and collage them on. Dibs on a sequined Harry Styles ornament, thank you.


Hallmark Christmas Movie Marathon

As cheesy as they can be, Hallmark Christmas movies are a tradition for a lot of people, so why not bring all the fans together for a Hallmark movie marathon? You can be extra fancy and show the movies via portable video projector, and if it’s a socially-distanced marathon, you can watch them together online! While a group-watching extension like Teleparty doesn’t work with the Hallmark channel, you can watch similar movies like The Holidate and Princess Switch on Netflix.


Christmas Horror Movie Night

On the other hand, if your friends are not the Hallmark movie type but are horror fiends, make the movie marathon theme Christmas horror! There are some pretty good gems to choose from, such as Black Christmas and Silent Night, Deadly Night. Don’t forget to wear a Krampus sweater to get in the spooky mood.


Christmas Carol-oke

Guests who love to sing their pretty little hearts out will appreciate a holiday party where they can karaoke! You can make it all holiday-themed songs or be freer with the song choices and let your guests entertain you. Again, this is something that can be done on Zoom (perhaps your guests would like their own at-home microphones?) or IRL. All you need is a karaoke machine and some courage.


STYLECASTER | Holiday Theme Party Ideas

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Craftmas Party 

If you love the idea of hosting a craft-making party for the holidays, but want to go even further than ornament decorating, have a Craftmas Party! You can have guests make wreaths and handmade holiday cards, or go the baking route and have them decorate their own cookies as a sweet treat to take home.


Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest

It’s not Christmas without an ugly sweater party! If you don’t own one, no worries. Luckily, they are everywhere, and have a style for every mood, whether you’re into the idea of a festive unicorn sweater or Santa Salt Bae. Online options are clearly great if you can’t get to a thrift store. Make it a contest: the tackiest sweater wins an equally tacky holiday hat (or a gift card, if you don’t want to be that cruel).


Under the Mistletoe

This might sound like a pretty simple theme, but you can celebrate all things mistletoe with themed cocktails. Mistletoe margaritas or mistletoe martinis sound pretty good if you ask us! Don’t forget to hang some mistletoe (real or fake) and blast Justin Bieber’s “Under the Mistletoe” when your crush walks in.


Movie-Inspired Potluck

This ain’t no ordinary potluck! Ask your guests to make something they saw in a movie once to bring. For example, do you remember in The Holiday (aka the best Christmas rom-com) when Iris (Kate Winslet) makes Miles (Jack Black) Christmas fettucine? We’ve always wanted to eat that! Don’t forget to keep to the holiday theme with some cute, festive bakeware.


STYLECASTER | Holiday Theme Party Ideas

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Gingerbread House-Making

Yes, there may be all sorts of gingerbread house kits out there, but those don’t bring the same kind of magic as making your own! All you need are graham crackers and cookies, a bunch of different candy and frosting to pretend you’re an architect from the North Pole. To make things even more fun, try making gingerbread houses inspired by famous movie homes or celebrity abodes. (Though a Kardashian-West gingerbread house would be pretty boring, just saying.)


Old Hollywood

Dressing up as your favorite celebrity from the days of Hollywood past is always a great theme for a holiday party, especially if it’s for New Year’s Eve. You’re getting dressed up anyway, so why not be over-the-top and channel your inner Marilyn or Jayne Mansfield? It’s honestly the best excuse to finally buy yourself a floor-length, tulle gown.


Latke-Making Party

Looking to throw a Hanukkah dinner party? Make it a latke-making party instead! Ask each guest to bring a topping of their choice and set up a latke bar. You might want to have some other appetizers on hand, but then again, who really needs more than a good potato pancake?

Pajama Party

If you don’t want anyone to stress about dressing up all fancy, have them come over (or hang out on Zoom) in their pajamas instead. The holidays are all about being comfy, anyway! Get a cute pair of holiday-themed pjs for yourself (may we suggest matching ones for you and your boo?). They also have Christmas-themed babydoll lingerie if you’d rather show some skin!


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