Amongst all the upheaval and uncertainty we've encountered during 2020, the one thing we can guarantee is that Christmas and New Year celebrations are going to require a little more imagination and creativity than usual this year. Fortunately, at NMP Live we have an abundance of both, and we're bursting at the seams.
So if we can't socialise in person, how can we reward staff and colleagues for pulling together through a tough year, or show our clients just how much we've valued their business and loyalty throughout these enduring times?
And with so many of us confined to working from home this year, it’s more important than ever to bring teams together, provide a bit of escapism, let your hair down and have some fun!
Just because we cannot celebrate in the traditional way with an office Christmas party, it doesn’t mean we can’t still have a fantastic event, with great food and drink, whilst enjoying good company and the absolute best in live virtual entertainment.
The secret to hosting a successful virtual party
Whatever virtual entertainment ideas you have in mind, for any party to be successful, the secret is to ensure there's plenty of engagement and interaction between the guests and the entertainer(s).
Your preferred theme for the celebrations might involve a fully immersive and interactive experience throughout, such as a quiz, or the level of interaction may simply be an audience-led Q&A at the end of a captivating and inspiring talk. Whatever you choose, some level of interaction is fundamental to ensuring your guests feel engaged and involved.
Headline entertainers and celebrity speakers are more accessible now than ever before
As the saying goes, 'every cloud has a silver lining', and putting aside all the adverse effects of the pandemic, when it comes to award-winning headline entertainers and celebrity speakers, they're far more accessible to book right now.
Usually, at this time of year celebrities are busy performing in panto or touring their theatre shows around the country. And whilst many still remain busy filming TV and writing, fitting a Zoom event into their diary is far more manageable than having to write-off half a day, or longer, to attend an in-person event.
We also worked with more international A-list speakers and entertainers during 2020, because diary availability and a lack of extensive travelling requirements brought them closer and made them more affordable. We've booked speakers and entertainers for a number of clients' events that simply wouldn't have been possible in-person.
So without further delay, here are eight original, inspiring, and creative virtual entertainment suggestions to get you in the festive mood or kick off the New Year.
1. The ultimate virtual quiz night
Having gained huge popularity during the lockdown, with families and in the workplace, virtual quizzes are still a great way to bring everyone together with something that's familiar.
So, if you want to create something really special to give your guests a night to remember, why not book one of the UK’s top comedians such as Jimmy Carr, Tom Allen, Katherine Ryan, Rob Beckett, or Iain Stirling as your evening's quizmaster and host?
Typically, the comedian will deliver a short stand-up comedy set at the top of the evening to kick off the event and get the energy going before launching into the quiz. The big advantage of booking a comedian as your host is they're with you for the whole of the event — typically between 60-90 minutes — not just a 20-25 minute stand-up performance.
Booking the comedian for this length of time will really feel like they’re a part of your whole event and allows them plenty of opportunities for comedy, audience interaction and "banter" in-between the questions and rounds.
You can even book Al Murray, the nation’s favourite publican, to host his traditional Pub Quiz and put your team to the test with a special yuletide version. From Christmas films to festive food, brush up on your trivia and let the Pub Landlord host you and your colleagues in the only welcome lock-in of 2020.
2. Virtual magic and mind-reading entertainment
Wow your guests, blow their minds and create lasting memories for years to come with a virtual magic performance from our world-renowned, award-winning magicians.
One of the many benefits with a magic performance is that it can work equally well for a party of just 3 people or 3,000. So no matter the size of the audience or your budget, we’ll have the perfect magician to perform virtually for you.
A virtual magic show is nothing like watching magic on TV or clips from YouTube. Booking one of our first-class and highly in-demand magicians is a fully interactive and immersive experience — everything will happen right in your guests' own homes, under the instruction of the magician, giving them an experience they won’t forget.
Whether you’re looking for a top celebrity name such as Dynamo or Channel 4's Troy; magical innovator and Derren Brown's creative consultant Fergus Flanagan; Britain's Got Talent winner Richard Jones or prankster and star of Dancing on Ice, Ben Hanlin, we'll have someone that's perfect for your audience and your wallet.
3. A virtual wine tasting experience
The perfect excuse at any time of year, but never-more-so when you're cosy indoors with a roaring fire and the cold winter air is at bay outside. For something to get the taste buds going, why not treat your guests to a virtual wine tasting evening with a leading expert?
Once they’ve signed up to the evening and accepted your invitation, send each guest a selection of wines and, depending on how generous you’re feeling, perhaps a small hamper of cheeses and snacks. From that point on, to be honest you'll be hard-pressed to go wrong!
However, if you want to really give your guests a truly unique and memorable experience, book a top celebrity wine expert, such as Oz Clark or Olly Smith to take your guests on a virtual journey through the wines in their hamper and regale them with anecdotes throughout the evening.
4. Virtual gameshow evening
If a general knowledge 'pub quiz' doesn’t excite you and you’re looking for something interactive and inclusive, why not host your own version of a well-known TV gameshow to play across Zoom or your preferred online platform.
Family-favourite Stephen Mulhern is on-hand to host your very own version of the popular Catch Phrase right in your guests' own living rooms. Involving everyone and injecting his unique brand of humour and perhaps even the odd bit of magic throughout.
If that isn't quite your thing, during lock-down one of our clients adapted their own version of the popular BBC1 panel show Would I Lie To You? We booked a celebrity comedian to host their evening — although Rob Brydon who presents the TV version is an option — budget permitting. With volunteers willing to divulge one or two secrets, it was fun and easy format to execute and provided plenty of opportunities for the comedian to have lots of banter and interaction with the audience.
If your team is a more hands-on and creative bunch of individuals, then consider bringing BAFTA-winning Taskmaster to your company’s Christmas party and have Little Alex Horne (with or without Greg Davies) guide you and your colleagues through some very special festive challenges.
Whether you're tasked to find an object from the 12 Days of Christmas song or put the most Christmas cracker hats on in 60 seconds, the brand new Taskmaster event will bring some truly unique to your celebrations.
5. Learn to beatbox – a unique, fun and interactive way to bring the whole team together
Your virtual Christmas party doesn't have to be a passive event. If you’re looking for something fun, unique and contemporary, get the whole team involved and energised with a beatboxing performance and workshop from award-winning beatboxer, producer and live looping artist SK Shlomo.
A Guinness World Record breaker, SK Shlomo has graced the main stages at Glastonbury, won rave reviews for his autobiographical one-man shows and gained global acclaim collaborating with the likes of Bjork, Damon Albarn, Basement Jaxx and The Specials.
Now you can learn the basics of his amazing vocal pyrotechnic skills right in your own homes and annoy your family or house-mates with your new-found musical abilities.
6. Hire a global A-list speaker for 'An evening with...'
One massive advantage with everything moving to a virtual entertainment medium during the pandemic is that speakers can log on to your event from literally anywhere in the world.
So, why limit your choice to domestic UK speakers, entertainers, and celebrities?
Many Hollywood stars who would otherwise be unattainable or financially unrealistic options for an in-person event are now available for virtual online bookings at favourable rates compared to their in-person fees.
So if you really want to be the 'talk of the town' and the best thing to happen during the pandemic, create a huge buzz and the ultimate WOW factor for your colleagues or clients by injecting some genuine Hollywood glamour into your event. Book 'An evening with...' the likes of Nicole Kidman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Colin Firth, Al Pacino, or say "aaaaay" to The Fonz himself, Henry Winker — once of the nicest and most genuine stars in Hollywood.
7. Captivating virtual guest speakers
From world-record-breaking adventures, explorers and endurance athletes to astronauts, Hollywood stuntmen and BAFTA-winning filmmakers; transport your guests to another world for the next 60-minutes by hiring a celebrity guest speaker with a fascinating and unique life story.
Take your audience on a journey across Antarctica and scaling the heights of Mt. Everest, with the World's greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Alternatively, for any petrol-heads in the audience how about a behind-the-scenes tour of Top Gear, Hollywood and LeMans, with Top Gear's former Stig, now movie stuntman (Skyfall, Star Wars, Batman) and racing driver Ben Collins?
Why not turn the tables on BAFTA award-winning documentary filmmaker, Louis Theroux and put him in the hot seat, answering your burning questions.
Or, for jaw-dropping tales from the boardroom, Gerald Ratner tells his first-hand account of ‘that speech’ at the IoD and the immediate demise of his multi-million-pound jewellery business. A charming and witty speaker, Gerald captivating audiences with his incredible infamous story of both success and failure.
8. Host a night of virtual comedy
When the world first went into lockdown back in March 2020, presenting a straightforward stand-up comedy performance across Zoom seemed almost impossible. How could world-class professional comedians deliver their comedy to the same standard with no feedback from the audience and them simply starring down the lens of their webcam?
However, we’ve learnt a lot since then and adapted the medium, refining the way that online comedy is presented. With a few simple changes, comedians have modified the structure of their sets and found ways of really embracing the format.
Fundamentally, as with any type of virtual entertainment, the ultimate key to the success of your event is audience engagement and interaction — a comedian needs laughter and feedback from their audience — whatever the format and setting, both in terms of energy levels and gauging the mood and direction to take the performance.
Involving the audience also means that you get a personalised, unique experience and a bespoke performance that you won’t find anywhere else. So, when you’re bringing that headline celebrity comedian into the homes of your guests, it’s something they will never forget.
You may want to hire a top celebrity comedian to deliver a 'headline' set as part of a bigger event, or you can host your own virtual comedy event. We can arrange a top line-up of talent to include an emcee, support act and headliner, to give you 45-60 minutes of solid gold comedy.