Categories Virtual events

Virtual Happy Hour Ideas to Bring Remote Teams Together

virtual happy hour: screenshot of a team playing on Gather

Working remotely has plenty of benefits — productivity spikes, better work, and happier employees.

But employees still crave personal connections with peers. Remote work shouldn’t prevent your team from fun social gatherings.

Social events — like virtual happy hours — are the perfect way to bring remote teams together. Here’s how to plan your next virtual happy hour.

What’s a Virtual Happy Hour?

virtual happy hour: screenshot of a dining table on Gather

A traditional happy hour means finishing work early and meeting coworkers for drinks or snacks. The virtual happy hour is nearly the same. Instead of meeting coworkers at a bar or restaurant, you use a video conferencing platform.

Happy hours give employees a reason to set work aside and hang out in a casual setting. They’re also a fun icebreaker, build team camaraderie, and strengthen bonds with coworkers.

They’re the perfect way to celebrate special occasions or holiday parties — for example, birthdays, work milestones, or someone leaving the company.

But you don’t need a specific reason to hold a virtual happy hour. You may just want to get together and have a fun game night with coworkers.

How to Plan a Virtual Happy Hour

Virtual happy hours are meant to be enjoyable and work-free. Keep the conversation light and avoid bringing up work. Make your virtual happy hour a hit with games, drinks, and snacks for your entire team.

Here are the ingredients for a successful virtual happy hour:

1. Schedule the Virtual Event

Happy hours can last as long as you’d like, but keep it around one or two hours.

A Wednesday or Thursday happy hour is a nice break within the workweek. Fridays also work, but don’t schedule too late in the evening. There’s nothing happy about postponing your weekend getaway so you can join a work event.

Ask employees which time works for them. Send a poll and ask about their availability 1-2 weeks ahead of time.

2. Send Invites

Send email invites once you’ve confirmed your remote team’s availability. Do this at least one week in advance. Include the date, time, and event details. For example, let them know if you’ll be playing a game or if there’s a specific theme.

Make sure people know the virtual happy hour is optional.

3. Choose a Virtual Happy Hour Idea

virtual happy hour: screenshot of a team playing drawing on Gather

Your cocktail party can be more than just chatting and snacking with coworkers. Use one of these virtual happy hour games, themes, or topics to liven up your virtual event. 

Show and Tell

The classic game of show and tell allows coworkers to get to know each other on a personal level.

Ask people to prepare something interesting they’d like to share with team members. Here are some ideas:

  • Introduce a pet
  • Show off a hidden talent
  • Teach everyone about their hobby
  • Talk about a prized possession
  • Show embarrassing high school photos

Just set some ground rules if you think people might talk too long. No one needs to hear about Frank’s stamp collection for more than five minutes.

Costume Party

It doesn’t need to be Halloween to wear a costume. Spice up your virtual happy hour by asking guests to follow a costume theme. Some costume themes include the following:

  • Pirate
  • Flashback to the ’80s
  • Favorite movie or TV show character
  • Ugly Christmas sweater
  • Trip to Hawaii

Virtual Scavenger Hunt

Divide employees into separate teams and compete in a virtual scavenger hunt. Teams race to find household items, solve puzzles, and figure out clues. The team that finds the most items or completes all challenges first is the winner.

It’s a fun group activity and also a great team-building activity. Teams must use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to best their rivals.

Here are a few example scavenger hunt items:

  • Blue rubber band
  • VHS tape
  • Movie ticket stub
  • Triangular object
  • Chocolate chip cookie

Team members can take time to talk about the stories behind personal objects, like pictures or memorabilia.

Tip: In the Gather app, you can use a fun template like an island or mansion for your scavenger hunt. Then, you can hide virtual objects like a statue or an anchor for teammates to find.

Virtual Trivia

Test your team’s random knowledge with a trivia game.

Create a list of general trivia questions or focus on a theme — like movies, holidays, or music. Divide people into teams and ask a series of questions in each round.

Teams discuss answers in separate breakout rooms and send responses to the host. The team with the most correct answers is the winner.

Here are a few sample trivia questions to get you started:

  • How many sides does a stop sign have? (Eight)
  • How many meters is an Olympic swimming pool? (50 meters)
  • Which edible food never goes bad? (Honey)
  • What is the world’s biggest island? (Greenland)
  • What is the national food of Spain? (Paella)

Pictionary

Have a few laughs playing Pictionary, the classic drawing game where teammates guess what’s being drawn on screen.

Use these Pictionary examples to start your list:

  • Gum
  • Moonwalk
  • Couch potato
  • Bubble bath
  • Blackhole

In addition, Drawphone integrates directly within Gather. It automatically generates words and lets you play while video chatting with coworkers.

Charades

Create a list of funny words that people act out for teammates. Create two teams and have people guess what word their teammate is showing. Charade words can follow your happy hour theme or be completely random.

Use any of the following charade words, and more:

  • Ghost
  • Trampoline
  • Birthday
  • Flashlight
  • Polar bear

What’s in Your Fridge?

Take turns giving humorous tours of what’s in your fridge. Make it even funnier by assigning themes for each tour. For example, one person can pretend like they’re giving an art museum tour while another can only speak in a pirate accent. (Try this one after everyone’s had a cocktail).

Guess That Song

Compile a playlist before the happy hour. The first person or team to guess each song title gets a point. You can follow a certain genre or era of music. For example, greatest ’90s hits. Just make sure songs aren’t too obscure.

Play Mixologist

Tell attendees to prepare a special cocktail or mocktail to showcase at the virtual happy hour. Have each person walk through the steps to craft their tasty concoction. Bonus points for those who add extra flair or tricks into their mixology demonstration.

Never Have I Ever

“Never have I ever” is an entertaining drinking game where people take turns saying something they have never done in their life. Those who have done the specific action take a drink.

For example, the first person could say “Never have I ever gone snowboarding.” Anybody who has gone snowboarding then takes a sip.

4. Choose a Platform

screenshot of a team playing cards on Gather

Happy hours are typically held at a bar, restaurant, or office. A virtual happy hour requires a video conferencing platform.

Gather is a great option for a virtual happy hour (and all kinds of video calls). Teammates walk around in a virtual 8-bit world and video chat when close to each other. It’s great for video calls of all kinds.

For example, if you’re planning to play trivia, Gather lets users walk into separate breakout rooms to discuss answers. Or you can draw on a group whiteboard for a competitive game of Pictionary.

You can also play any online group game and screen share. For example, play a game of poker during happy hour with Lipoker.

5. Encourage Snacks and Drinks

Happy hour wouldn’t be the same without drinks and snacks. Tell coworkers to come prepared with their favorite classic cocktails, mocktails, and food.

Show your appreciation by sending the virtual team drinks and snacks the week before your happy hour.

You can simplify this process by using a third party like Caroo that curates a happy hour box. This includes a cup, snacks, and a personal cocktail kit.

Start Planning Your Next Virtual Happy Hour

Virtual meetings don’t have to be boring. Reward employees for their hard work with a fun event.

Set a time, send invites, and choose a happy hour activity. Team members can unwind, have a few drinks, and get to know one another.

Gather allows you to schedule all sorts of virtual events for your remote team. Explore even more virtual hangout ideas and experiences.