By 21st December 2020NEWS

The Debrett’s guide to hosting a stress-free festive Zoom – and how to be the perfect guest

Now that Christmas with family and friends has been further restricted in the UK, many of us find ourselves rearranging plans and bringing the celebrations online.
But while we’ve gone from Zoom newbies to virtuosos in 2020, special celebrations are different. The new Debrett’s Guide to Hosting & Entertaining features advice on hosting stress-free virtual celebrations – as well as guidance for every type of get-together and party as we look forward to being reunited with loved ones in 2021.

While it may not be possible to virtually divvy up the eight kilogram turkey now occupying the fridge, structure and brevity should at least ensure that celebrating together online is still fun. 

Please credit the Debrett’s Guide to Hosting & Entertaining if using this extract. To speak with a Debrett’s expert about Christmas 2020, contact press@debretts.com 


Have a plan
It’s impossible for guests on a Zoom call to chat and mingle as they would in real life, so introducing some structure helps alleviate any awkwardness, and ensures everyone feels involved.

Let guests know what to expect
Give guests an idea of timings and let them know if there’s a dress code. If budget permits, you could arrange to send out party parcels for guests, which might include a game, an item of fancy dress, a small bottle of champagne or some sweet treats.

Keep it brief
While your guests will undoubtedly be delighted to celebrate with you, attention spans are likely to wander if it goes on too long.

Set the scene
Use balloons, flowers or a dedicated backdrop to lend a celebratory feel to the event, and get the lighting right – plenty of daylight is best, but avoid sitting right in front of a window.

Make sure guests can see what’s going on, and ideally have practice run beforehand (this will also allow you to check that your Wifi is up to the task).

Pick up the phone
Remember that not everyone is tech savvy so schedule a phone call to any family members who might not be comfortable with Zoom.


  • Log in on time
  • Make an effort and dress up
  • Smile and get involved
  • Keep your phone out of reach; don’t be tempted to scroll through Instagram or Facebook while the event is going on
  • Mute yourself for any important bits
  • If you need to excuse yourself to go to the loo or get a drink, switch off your camera
  • Warn your host if you need to leave early – otherwise, stay til the end
  • Send your host a thank you note afterwards
The Debrett’s Guide to Hosting & Entertaining
The new Debrett’s Guide to Hosting & Entertaining is a comprehensive guide to hosting every kind of celebration from weddings to beach picnics and everything in between; high days and holidays, rites of passage, dinner parties, days at the races, evenings at the opera, festival food and virtual celebrations.

The Debrett’s Guide to Hosting & Entertaining is available in our Christmas shop along with beautiful, leather-bound notebooks and 2021 diaries.