Last minute games and activity ideas for your virtual New Year's Eve party at home

New Year’s Eve events have been cancelled across the country in the wake of coronavirus, with people urged to stay at home to avoid infections increasing further. 

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned that people should take “personal responsibility” and stay inside their own households this year as the NHS is under growing pressure.

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And with large parts of the country under the highest levels of restrictions, parties, pub nights, and meet-ups with friends and family are off the table. 

For the first year ever, a lot of people will be spending New Year’s Eve (or Hogmanay if you’re in Scotland) at home, looking for things to do. 

Perhaps the last activity you want to be doing is hosting a virtual party - but it’s a great way to see in the new year with the ones you love, even if it’s through a screen. 

So if you’re looking for a bit of last-minute fun in 2020, here’s a list of simple ideas that people of all ages will enjoy. 

2020 quiz

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Zoom quizzes may be overdone, but you’ll only get one chance to organise a big, fat end-of-the-year quiz so you may as well go all out.

See how well you and your pals remember 2020 with a look back at all the events and occurrences of this year.

From a “who said it?” round to “new dictionary words”, make sure the quiz is topical and funny - perfect to sum up a year we will never forget. 

Murder mystery 

Murder mysteries never get old, and setting up a virtual detective’s game is seriously easy.

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There are plenty of free murder mystery scripts online to download, which you can send to all the participants.

Choose a character for each person out of a hat, and encourage them to dress up as extravagantly as possible - and accents are definitely encouraged.

The winner is the person who solves the mystery.

This can make for a hilarious, quirky night - but it’s best organised with a smaller group of people. 

Board games

Who said board games shouldn’t be played over Zoom?

As long as you pick the right one, this can make for a hilariously competitive night.

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For example, Pictionary can easily be played virtually - all you need is a whiteboard and pen and to guess what the other team is drawing. 

Similarly, Articulate! could be played via a screen since it requires someone to describe a word for the other team to guess - but make sure to set that timer for added pressure!

Cocktail making 

For adults-only celebrations, virtual cocktail making is a fun activity - and who can say no to a cocktail?

Choose a tasty, but easy, cocktail recipe that participants will be able to mix using ingredients they already have, such as strawberry daiquiris, mojitos, or espresso martinis. 

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Make it a competition to see who can produce the best-looking cocktail - and who makes the worst.

The best bit is, of course, getting to enjoy your drink at the end with the group. 

Recap your year

It’s not exactly a game, but preparing a short recap of your year for the other people on the call is a heart-warming way to remember that 2020 wasn’t all bad. 

You could make a simple presentation using pictures and videos - even if they’re just you working from home during lockdown!

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Or, write down your fondest memories from the year and tell the stories to the rest of the group.

It’s always fun to see what other people have been up to - and it’s a good way to say bye to a very difficult year.

Dance party 

Not for the faint-hearted, a dance party can easily be organised on Zoom - but you have to lose your inhibitions.

Ask everyone on the call to choose one dance song and then add them onto a shared playlist (you can do this on Spotify) which can be accessed through the night.

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Then, play each song and each person has to come up with their own dance to the song - if it’s bad, even better. 

Vote for your favourites each round, and the winner is the person with the most votes.

You may want to have a few drinks at the same time!

Scavenger hunt 

It’s simple, it’s effective, and it means people aren’t sitting down all night. 

Make a list of household objects, such as a spoon, a toothbrush, or even a sock, and ask participants to collect them - the first person to return with the object wins the round.

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The more obscure the objects are, the funnier - or you could even go one step further and write a riddle for people to guess what they need to find.

Movie night

Everyone loves a movie night, and it’s a no-fuss way to spend time with the people you love over Zoom or Skype.

Simply ask everyone to pick up some classic movie snacks, like popcorn, fizzy juice, and chocolate, and collectively vote for a film to watch on Netflix.

If you can’t decide, get all participants to suggest their preferred movie and pick one out of a hat.

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Once everyone’s settled, play your movies at the same time and take breaks every 30 minutes or so to discuss (or chat about it at the end if you’re not keen on interruptions).

Virtual bingo

Bingo nights are a total crowd-pleaser, and it’s really easy to set one up virtually via Zoom or Skype.

The best part is that there is no limit to the number of people who can join in, whether you have three friends or 30. 

And don’t worry about finding bingo cards, as there are plenty of free online resources.

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Then, find a number generator and share your screen with everyone so they can see the numbers as they are selected.

The usual bingo rules apply, and you could even organise prizes for the winner and runners up. 

Talent show 

Okay, this idea isn’t for everyone, but for the more extroverted groups it could make for a hilarious night.

This works just as a normal talent contest would. Simply tell participants to come up with an idea for a performance which they can easily do on Zoom or Skype.

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This could be anything from a dance routine, to singing, to acting, to telling jokes. 

There needs to be judges, of course, who score each entrant before choosing the overall winner of the virtual talent contest.

The prize is eternal glory.