Virtual Happy Hour Ideas: Your Guide to Planning a Fun Team-Building Event

Thomas Paris
March 30, 2023
Virtual Happy Hour: Everything You Need To Plan a Fun Event | Hoppier

Virtual happy hours are online social events held over video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and like their non-virtual counterparts, usually involve icebreakers, fun activities and games, and of course, drinks.

It’s an ideal opportunity to gather everyone together, celebrate, get to know new people, and enjoy each other’s company.

To help you host fun virtual happy hours, we’ve brought together our favorite tips and advice for planning, themes, and activities. Follow this guide, and you can host a virtual happy hour your coworkers will love.

In this guide, you'll learn:

  • How to plan the perfect virtual happy hour
  • 3 easy ways to make your happy hour fun and engaging
  • Virtual happy hour games
  • Virtual happy hour activities
  • More virtual happy hour ideas

How to plan the perfect virtual happy hour

Sure, you can send out a meeting request and call it a "virtual happy hour," but if you want it to be a success there’s a lot more that goes into it.

Here’s how to plan and organize a virtual happy hour that people actually want to attend:

1. Cover your bases

Before jumping into the fun stuff like theming and party games, make sure you have your event planning bases covered.

Think about how many people you want to attend your virtual happy hour. Between three and 15 is a good number so that everyone gets some screen time. Then consider the date, time, and reason for your virtual get-together. These kinds of events are a great way to celebrate a team member's birthday, acknowledge a target or milestone, host a holiday party, or mark a fun day like National Pizza Day or Halloween.

Don't forget about your invites! Skip the boring email and go for something that stands out. Try adding some fun graphics, bright colors, and a clear call to action. You can also use digital invitations instead for even more convenience and pizzazz.

2. Choose a video conferencing platform

Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype are all good options for your virtual team get-together. But if you already have a favorite software for virtual meetings, schedule your happy hour using that, as long as it lets you all gather, see people’s faces, and add interactive elements like screen sharing or video.

As for your guests, they can join from their computer or phone.

Generally, these simple video call platforms are perfect for hosting a Zoom happy hour or a meetup on Microsoft Teams. But other times, you’ll want something a little more unique — like a virtual environment. Take a look at our guide to the best virtual event platforms to help you find the right tool.

3. Add a virtual happy hour theme

While your virtual happy hour doesn’t have to have a theme, it's a fun way to bring people together. It also helps differentiate between business meetings and social team bonding time.

An easy way to zero in on a great theme is to consider the reason behind the happy hour. If it’s someone’s birthday, honor that with an event themed around their favorite color, hobby, or video game. If you’re celebrating a new client win, you could host a Hollywood-style bash and get dressed up.

Most of your go-to office party themes translate into virtual happy hours too. You could throw an 80s-inspired virtual happy hour with retro accessories and a hit playlist, or ask everyone to join you in character for a Clue-inspired happy hour.

4. Choose your activities

Party games and activities can be hit-and-miss. Not everyone wants to play charades, take part in drinking games, or scrounge around for a virtual scavenger hunt. So, be sure to choose activities based on the people you’re celebrating with.

A good tip here is t send out a quick survey with some of your ideas beforehand. That way, you can adjust your plans before you’ve committed to them. Plus, you can get people excited about being there — and discover amazing ideas you hadn’t thought of.

If you want to keep it simple, that’s fine too. Don’t feel pressured to schedule every moment of your virtual happy hour — if your guests just want to get together to chat over drinks or casual online games, let them.

3 easy ways to make your happy hour fun and engaging

The best way to keep your party guests engaged is to make them feel welcome. Here are a few simple yet effective ways to do just that:

1. Schedule your virtual happy hour at the right time

There’s nothing worse than hearing about a great party that you can’t attend. Reduce FOMO and help your attendees avoid distractions by scheduling your event at the right time.

You know your team best, so consider their schedules, responsibilities, and work style when you plan the date and time of your get-together.

If your remote team is distributed across multiple time zones, be extra thoughtful with your scheduling. What looks like a 4 pm happy hour for some of your guests could be mid-morning for others, so make it both cocktail- and coffee-friendly.

Or, just ask your guests the best time. Send out a quick poll to see everyone’s best availability, and schedule your virtual happy hour for the most popular time. This still might not work for everyone, but that’s okay — just choose a different day and time the next time you host so everyone will have a chance to attend at least one event.   

2. Cover the drinks and snacks

Hoppier virtual credit cards for covering the cost of employee drinks for a virtual happy hour

It’s not a happy hour without drinks, is it?

Usually, you’d be able to pick up a few bottles and lay out some snacks in person, but a virtual happy hour is a little different. Luckily, there’s an easy way to cover the budget for your team's happy hour drinks.

Use Hoppier to set up and send out virtual credit cards for your team members. This not only makes taking part easier but also allows you to give back to your coworkers, where they can treat themselves to their favorite beer and burger — or order coffee and a slice of cake.

Here's how Hoppier works:

1. Create Your Happy Hour Program

virtual happy hour credit cards for buying food and drinks

When you set up your virtual happy hour credit cards, you can add personal touches like your company logo, company colors, or a happy hour icon. Once your program has the look you want, get down to the finer details like setting a spending limit for your guests.

For happy hour, a $20 spending limit is typically enough to allow guests to buy their favorite adult beverage and some snacks. But, really any amount of spending money will help your guests enjoy the event — so, base this decision on your budget.

If you can only afford $10 per person, your guests can still pick up their favorite brews. If you can afford more, set your budget high and encourage guests to treat themselves to a nice bottle of wine or barrel-aged whiskey.

You can also set a time limit on the funds, allowing your team to order drinks and snacks before the event. Any money they don't spend within the time frame will get refunded, so you can add it back to your company budget. What's more, you can leave the time frame open as a gift to your attendees after the event.

2. Choose Your Vendors

Setting vendors for virtual happy hour spending

You can limit the vendors your team members can buy from based on broad categories like alcohol stores, restaurants, or grocery stores — or you can choose specific vendors like Minibar and DoorDash. You can also leave it open so guests can decide where to spend their happy hour money.

When setting up vendors, keep in mind that not everyone drinks alcohol. Consider adding coffee shops, bakeries, and dessert options alongside your adult beverage options.

3. Invite Your Guests

You've already sent invites to the event — now, surprise your guests with an invite to their virtual credit card. Hoppier makes this step easy. You can upload a CSV file with all your guests' email addresses. Then, write your own email or use an invitation template to get your cards sent out quickly.

Virtual happy hour invitation template for food and drink perks

Once each guest joins the program, they'll get their own Hoppier card to spend at local stores. With vendors all over the world, even distributed team members can find food and drinks in their area. So, everyone will be able to enjoy the perks of virtual happy hour.

Alternatively, you can send out any supplies or gifts to your guests ahead of time so that they may receive them before the event. You can send out company swag, cocktail kits, or Happy Hour gift boxes so your coworkers don’t have to keep getting up to fill up or grab a snack. The happy hour experts at Caroo even have a curated Happy Hour box that can be sent out to your guests with just a few clicks.

Keep the Conversation Light

You might be celebrating a work-related milestone, but keep the chat at your virtual happy hour light and as work-free as possible.

Kick off the event with a short intro about the project or what a successful week it’s been, but then keep work talk strictly off the table. As a starting point, stick to simple talking points like current events, movies and TV, and hobbies, and let the conversation flow naturally.

Depending on your guests, you might need to confirm that this doesn’t mean being unprofessional — it’s all about finding the right balance.

11 virtual happy hour ideas to take your event to the next level

A man plays guitar as part of a virtual happy hour activity

Playing games is a wonderful way to liven up your virtual happy hour. It gives everyone something to focus on, which is perfect if they feel nervous or don’t know what to talk about.

Here are some of our favorite games to play at a virtual happy hour. Some of these are quick and easy icebreakers, while others give you lots of space to get creative and have fun.

1. Happy hour bingo

If you’re looking for a simple yet rewarding party game for your virtual happy hour, bingo is always a great choice.

Create a bingo card based on your party theme, or choose one of these easy prompts to design a fun game:

  • Things the <insert team name> says
  • Remote work or conference call woes
  • Quarantine buzz words
  • Have you ever ____?
  • Getting to know you
  • Holiday
  • Monday blues

Add in a few different ways to win — like straight lines, inside or outside boxes, and of course the full house. Don’t forget to send a prize to the winners — an easy way to do this is to load prize money onto their Hoppier card.

2. Virtual trivia game

Virtual pub trivia sessions give you the perfect combination of entertaining and unusual facts. For instance, did you know that Jerry Seinfeld decided to pull the plug on Seinfeld after nine seasons because the Beatles broke up after nine years?

Stick to a short, general trivia game, or play your game in multiple rounds and make it the star of your happy hour. Here are some trivia theme ideas:

  • Movies and TV
  • Music
  • Decades
  • Geography
  • Animals
  • Technology

You could also get your coworkers involved in setting up the quiz. Ask everyone to contribute a round of quiz questions based on their personal interests.

3. Scavenger hunt

Give an office party classic a virtual makeover by staging an at-home scavenger hunt. Instead of scouting around outside the office or behind people’s desks, your home is your playground.

Your party guests will be hunting for items around their home, so keep this in mind as you build your scavenger hunt list. Stick to easy to find items or ask them to find things based on a descriptor like a color, texture, size, or shape.

4. Guess the song challenge

Challenge your music-loving coworkers to see who's the best at recognizing a tune with a "guess the song" game.

Set up a collaborative playlist on Spotify, and ask everyone to add songs to it. When happy hour rolls around, hit play, and see who can guess the song the fastest. If your coworkers have a really varied taste in music, stick to a general theme to make it easier — like a certain decade or genre of music.

5. Never have I ever

Bring an old classic back to life at your next virtual happy hour by playing “Never have I ever”. Take turns posing a question and see who has or hasn’t done it. Those that have, take a drink.

This can be a lot of fun at a virtual party — but remember to keep things light and avoid anything too troublesome. Use this as an opportunity to get to know everyone and find out what their passions and interests are, instead of focusing too much on the drinking game side.

6. I spy

Remember playing I spy back in school or college? This traditional game can make a great icebreaker at any virtual event — including a virtual happy hour.

Gather everyone together and take turns to say “I spy…” and have others try and guess what it is you’re looking for. People’s remote office backgrounds can be a little ordinary, so encourage people to hide fun mementos or brightly colored objects ahead of the party.

7. Charades

What’s great about charades is that you don’t all need to be in the same room for it to be an enjoyable game. It works perfectly remotely, as long as you can all see each other.

Split everyone into two teams and use a random word generator to find a word or phrase to act out. The rest of the team then has to try and guess what’s being acted out to score points. For extra fun, create themed rounds — like movies and TV, places, food, or well-known characters.

8. Guess the location

Working remotely has its perks, and with a really diverse workforce, you can get to know some exciting parts of the world. Even if you can’t travel much at the moment, a game like Geoguessr can help you explore from the comfort of your home.

What makes this game ideal for a virtual happy hour is that it’s really quick and easy to play. You’ll land in a spot and navigate around a “street view” map, looking for clues that might explain where you are. Once you have an idea, pin a spot on the world map, and see how close you are to being right.

9. Would you rather?

This is another super easy way to get to know the people around you. An ever-popular icebreaker question, “would you rather?” gives you plenty of ways to uncover fun truths, hidden passions, and curious interests simply by asking whether someone prefers option A or option B.

Ask your questions live, or use your video software’s built-in poll feature so people can answer while they drink and chat. Keep this as a lighthearted party game, or keep the answers on a digital whiteboard so people can connect over their similarities.

7 engaging virtual happy hour activities

Two craft cocktails for a virtual happy hour

While your virtual happy hour isn’t a work-focused event, that doesn’t mean that you have to wave goodbye to all the great virtual team-building activities out there.

Take a look through the following fun, engaging virtual happy hour activities to see which would fit perfectly into your plans.

1. Show and tell

Get to know your coworkers with a virtual show and tell. Bring this typical classroom exercise online for a fun way to learn about someone’s interests, passions, and life.

To kick off the session, ask team members to show an item and talk about it. Here are a few prompts you can use as a topic for your next virtual show and tell:

  • The beverage they’re drinking
  • Movie, album, or book recommendations
  • Their pet
  • Their most prized possession
  • Their best purchase under $100 that helped them work better
  • Their hobbies
  • Their favorite photo or painting

Some people struggle to come up with ideas on the spot, so you might want to pre-warn your party guests that you’re planning a show-and-tell icebreaker. That way, they can prepare something fun to share.

2. Party trick or talent show

Most of us have that weird, fun skill that doesn't have any practical application but is nonetheless pretty impressive — like being able to raise your brow like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or to write backward super fast.

Let your team members share these unique talents with the group. This is a great little icebreaker, and your confident coworkers will love the chance to demonstrate their skills. If your group is less confident, swap this for a mini-challenge where you all attempt a weird skill together instead.

3. Board game night

Invite your coworkers to join you on an adventure through a fantasy world or help you solve a murder mystery with a board game night.

Choose something simple like Codenames or Pictionary to start things off, or opt for a more intense game like Lords of Waterdeep or Pandemic if your group is more experienced.

Some of your guests might find it challenging to play a physical board game remotely. Most board games have online versions you can play together instead. For example, Colonist is a free online alternative to the popular Catan.

If you find this virtual happy hour really popular, you could transition it into a regular weekly virtual game night after work.

4. Mixology session

Take the drinking part of happy hour one step further and invite your guests along to a live virtual mixology class.

Invite an expert mixologist to teach your team how to make different cocktails and mocktails. Stick to classics like margaritas and mojitos, or ask them to come up with a signature drink for your brand.

Share an ingredients list with your party guests the week before, and give them a virtual Hoppier card so they can order what they need.

5. Tour around your home

We love the idea of taking everyone on a tour around your place, MTV Cribs-style.

While it’s tricky to walk around with a laptop, you can encourage people to join with their phone when it’s time to give their tour. It’s way easier to move around then, and show people a real look at how they live, what they spend their time doing, and how they love to decorate.

6. Virtual gratitude wall

If you’re hosting a virtual happy hour to celebrate something, a virtual gratitude wall is a lovely way to honor that. It gives you a simple way for people to say thanks to someone or express gratitude visually.

Keep a digital whiteboard up during the party and encourage people to type a message, or look for a virtual event platform that gives you a virtual collaboration tool where you can leave digital sticky notes, photos, and video clips.

At the end of the event, share the messages and save a copy so you can look back at it at any time.

7. Cake decorating challenge

This is a virtual happy hour activity that the creative people on your team will love. We’ve all seen those shows where people are under pressure to cook or bake — this is like that, except you don’t have to do the hard part and it’s way more fun.

Send your team members a care package in the mail that contains cookies, cakes, donuts, or another baked good that’s easy to decorate. Include icing, toppings, and other decorations that they can use to jazz up their cakes. See who can create the best designs — and give the winner a Hoppier virtual card loaded with a sweet gift balance.

7 more virtual happy hour ideas to try

happy girl on pink background wearing hat

If those party game and activity ideas weren’t enough, we’ve got even more ideas for you to try.

Here are some of our most loved themes and virtual happy hour ideas to take your event to the next level:

1. Themed virtual happy hour

Your virtual party doesn’t have to have a theme, but if there’s a holiday coming up or you feel like planning something extraordinary then it can be one of the best ways to make it feel special.

There are endless themes you could choose, but here are some of our favorite virtual holiday party ideas:

  • Halloween happy hour
  • Christmas happy hour
  • 70s / 80s / 90s happy hour
  • Roaring 20s happy hour
  • Neon futuristic happy hour
  • Monochrome happy hour

Make your theme and use it throughout your whole party — including party decor, your playlist, and food and drink ideas. You could even set a challenge for the best costume or best-decorated space, and hand out a prize to the winners.

2. Virtual dance party

Want to really take things to the next level? Transform your virtual happy hour from a “drink and chat” event to a “drink and dance” event with a virtual dance party.

What’s great about this idea is you can tailor it to your own interests or those of your team members. Host a hip-hop-inspired get-together, or a dance and singalong featuring only the best Disney or musical hits.

3. Virtual cosplay party

Cosplay isn’t just for conventions and real-life parties — it works well for virtual get-togethers too.

Choose a party theme where everyone dresses as their favorite character, or plan a theme based on a movie, TV show, anime, or trend. Here are some fun costume party theme ideas:

  • The Simpsons
  • Pokémon
  • James Bond
  • Horror movie characters
  • Hollywood actors
  • 90s fashion

Not everyone has a costume in their closet, so give your guests plenty of notice — and offer some ideas in the form of a lookbook.

4. Movie marathon party

While this extends your happy hour a little beyond an hour, it’s a great way to get people together and unite over an amazing (or terrible!) film or TV show.

It’s easy to set up a viewing party on Netflix, Hulu, Disney, or HBO with Teleparty. This free Chrome extension lets you sync up video and watch together like in a breakout room — with a chat feature so you can talk plot points or react to bad jokes in real time. Add in a drinking game, and you have a chill, non-traditional happy hour.

5. Book club

If you have an active book club at your company, transform your usual meetings into a virtual happy hour.

You can have a lot of fun with this and choose your books based on the main themes, locations, or times covered. Add in a trivia game to test everyone’s knowledge, mix up some themed drinks, and have a virtual happy hour that’s fun, engaging, and refreshing.

6. Virtual escape room debrief

We love the idea of hosting a virtual escape room party, followed by a happy hour afterward so everyone can chill out and talk about their super fun experience later. This also works great for any kind of immersive virtual experience, like a virtual murder mystery or horror event.

Instead of saying goodbye and heading back to reality, gather for some drinks and snacks of your choice from the comfort of home. Talk over what just happened, share your strategies, and laugh at any funny moments.

7. Fundraising virtual happy hour

Switch the alcoholic drinks to mocktails and ramp up the party games and challenges, and encourage people to seek sponsors to rally behind them in the hopes they win different activities. Use your social night as an opportunity to raise money and awareness, have fun, and create a feel-good moment for everyone involved.

Make your next virtual happy hour a roaring success

Virtual happy hours are one of the best ways to bring people together, build friendships, and reward your coworkers with some fun. They’re a great way to help people relax and feel like they’re part of a community.

Perfect your planning basics, choose a theme, and create a schedule using these activity ideas. Help your event run smoothly by using Hoppier to send your coworkers a stipend to buy drinks, and you'll have all the ingredients for an engaging virtual happy hour.

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Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo

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Ready to 2x your global engagement at your next event, with Ox stress?

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo


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