Hosting A Virtual Party

Keep up with loved ones near and far by learning how to host a virtual party – be it a birthday, anniversary, prom, or graduation, physical distance makes space for digital closeness. Time spent together virtually can be just as special and fun with these virtual party ideas and tips.

Woman celebrating birthday with video conference

If you are having social withdrawals and getting antsy from staying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s some good news! We compiled a bunch of virtual party ideas, from the best birthday invitations to unique online games and activities, so you and your loved ones can socialize during social distancing. Gather all your friends and family on a video chat and fight the cabin fever with some online quality time. You’ll find that hosting a successful party through video chat is easier and more fun than you might expect if you follow these simple guidelines.

How To Host A Virtual Party

While there’s nothing like gathering to celebrate life’s moments, there are times when it just isn’t possible. If you’re away from family and friends and looking for new ways to connect during the coronavirus outbreak, hosting a virtual party could be the solution to your problems. Online parties emphasize celebrating in thoughtful, creative ways so you can stay connected, even if it’s from a distance. Read ahead for our tips on how to host a virtual party.

1. Find A Virtual Location

First, you’ll need a place to meet up virtually. While there are dozens of online platforms out there to choose from, we’ve narrowed it down to these five so that you can make the best decision for your party:

  • Google Hangouts: This app is easy to use if you already have a Gmail account, you don’t need to set-up anything new to participate. Google Hangouts is free to use straight from your Google account.
  • FaceTime: If your whole group owns iPhones or Macs, try using FaceTime. It’s as simple as scrolling to your FaceTime app, clicking the + symbol button, and selecting your friends and family. You’ll be on a video chat in no time.
  • Zoom: If you want to host a virtual party for a larger group (up to 100 people), Zoom shows everyone’s camera simultaneously. There’s no need to wait for the cameras to rotate while speaking.
  • Skype: This app is a classic video platform that can be used on multiple devices from phones to Xboxes. You can even call and text cell phone numbers from Skype.
  • Houseparty: This app is perfect for small group game nights. Houseparty has a built-in feature where you can play games from Pictionary to Heads Up. Let the games begin!

2. Excite Guests With Invitations

shutterfly birthday invitations

Invitations can be as formal or as simple as you’d like. You can send a quick text to a group chat with friends or design digital invitations for casual one-on-one occasions and virtual happy hours with coworkers. Alternatively, for larger events such as 30th birthdays and bridal showers, you can make your virtual party feel more official by printing customized paper invitations and mailing them to guests who can also save them as physical keepsakes. Whether online or physical, get guests excited with invitations by setting the scene and nailing the logistics.

3. Decorate To Your Heart’s Content

Go overboard with decorations. If you are hosting a grad party, set up some streamers and balloons in the background to let everyone know the day is going to be very special. Pick a theme (the Roaring 20’s, masks and mimosas, ugly sweaters) and run with it. Hang up some bold wall art in the background that can serve as conversation starters. Decorations will help any virtual party feel more festive.

4. Plan For Virtual Games And Activities

Believe it or not, you can still play games even if you aren’t all in the same room. Pictionary, charades, and even Taboo are all games you can easily play through video chat. You can also find fun online games with sites that make it easy for friends and family to play together virtually. Read on to see the list of virtual party games below.

5. Add a Dress Code

father looking at cute daughter in beautiful dress

 Birthdays banner ad

Give everyone an excuse to change out of their matching pajama sets and work from home outfits and get glammed up! Either in fancy clothes or costumes, incorporating a dress code adds a fun element to your virtual party. If you’re having a themed party, have everyone dress up as a character, or, if there’s no theme, just ask everyone to dress up in their finest clothes.

6. Present A Gift Opening Session

If you are hosting a virtual birthday party for kids or a virtual baby shower, have guests mail or drop off (at a safe distance) the presents ahead of time so that the guest of honor can open their gifts on video chat. Watch the surprise on everyone’s face when the person you’re celebrating unwraps a personalized blanket with their face on it or shares a precious memory from a gifted photo book.

Virtual Party Games And Activities

Whether you’re looking to get the girls together for wine and Netflix after a long day of working from home or you want to keep things normal as possible by celebrating a big birthday, our list of virtual party games and activities are perfect for kids, adults, or the whole family.

Girl celebrating birthday online in quarantine time.

  • Charades or Pictionary: You can easily play classic party games like charades or Pictionary without being in the same room. Whether you generate your own downloadable cards for games to play on Zoom or try the built-in versions on the Houseparty app, these timeless favorites are great for any group of family or friends.
  • Netflix Party: Binge-watch your favorite shows and movies together. Netflix makes it a breeze to synchronize, and even provides a group chat platform for those peanut gallery comments that heighten the group film-watching experience.
  • Show and Tell: Has quarantine turned you into a stellar baker? Or maybe you want to show off your impressive custom mug collection? Pull a group together to play a round of show and tell with the new quarantine hobbies you’ve learned.
  • Virtual Board Games: If you need your fix of Scrabble, Risk, or Monopoly, you’re in luck! With a little bit of research, you can find sites with access to a bunch of different multiplayer board games that you can play together virtually.
  • Talent Show: Show off your hidden talents with friends and family. Be sure to create a line-up of the night’s performances beforehand so everyone knows when they’re ready to show off their skills.
  • Icebreakers: Be prepared to get the conversation started by breaking out some icebreakers. If there are people in the video chat who don’t know each other, you can “go around the room” and ask everyone to introduce themselves. Another easy icebreaker these days is to ask guests how they’re coping with the ways the pandemic has affected our daily lives.
  • Drinking Games With a Sitcom: Take a sip every time the laugh-track comes on! Sync up your Netflix accounts, watch your favorite sitcom, and drink every time a quirky phrase or mannerism is repeated. You can decide the rules as you go.
  • Trivia Night: There are several options you can find online, but a creative way to play is to make your own trivia game, including inside jokes and personal facts among your circle. You could also make your own themed trivia, creating questions about a commonly loved series or film.
  • Karaoke: For all karaoke enthusiasts out there, you can sing and perform with friends and family all you’d like thanks to the magic of the internet. Sync up using YouTube, or a website dedicated to online karaoke and host a virtual karaoke party.
  • Write a Short Story Together: Start up a shared Google Doc and take turns writing one sentence at a time, adding to the story as you go. The final results are usually hilarious!
  • Share a Workshop: Get your friends and family together to host a digital workshop and teach one another a few new skills you’ve gained over the years. It’s a great, inexpensive way to learn something new while hanging out with the people you love.
  • Vacation Slideshow: Have everyone share vacation photos from their favorite custom photo albums and reminisce those glorious, carefree days. Gather your favorite photos from the past and take turns sharing stories with one another. It could inspire you to start planning a group trip for the future.
  • Dance Party: Create a communal playlist and get moving! It’s fun, excellent exercise, and can even help release the stress you may be feeling lately. Pick a theme and make it a disco dance-off or a 90’s greatest hits throwback.

Virtual Birthday Party Ideas

Whether you’re planning a virtual birthday party for yourself, your partner, your kids, or friends and family, make it extra special with these birthday party ideas.

little girls drawing together over video chat

  • Sing a Group Happy Birthday: Dress up in party clothes and hang up a “Happy Birthday” banner in the background. Bake a cake and put candles in them. Everyone that’s invited to your virtual party will gladly sing happy birthday to you!
  • Heartwarming Signs: Have everyone make a sign on a piece of paper (that can be decorated with markers and custom stickers) with a word that best describes the birthday person. When you sing happy birthday, have everyone hold up their sign into the camera and make sure to take a screenshot!
  • Surprise Party: Invite your birthday person to what they think is a one-on-one call and have a virtual surprise party waiting with their loved ones.
  • Hire A Virtual Entertainer: Planning a virtual party for kids? Hire someone who can entertain the kids via video chat – a dance teacher for a dance party, a puppeteer, a magician, or even a singer! Find someone to host a cupcake making, cooking, or painting party.
  • Virtual Toasts: As an alternative to casual drinks at the bar, have your group chat drop by a Zoom party and toast to health, happiness, and making it through this year together. Add a cheeky note for guests to “BYO cake”.

Virtual Prom Ideas

This year, high school seniors all over the world are missing out on a springtime tradition: prom. Prom night plays an important role in solidifying friendships, celebrating good times, and commemorating the end of the school year. Don’t let COVID-19 stop your desire to get together and celebrate the past. Get inspired to party with these virtual prom ideas:

high school seniors

  • Make Up a Hashtag: Bring everyone together by posting photos, memories, and Tweets promoting your virtual prom with a hashtag. Make up an online challenge to encourage people attending to share their support.
  • Send Out Virtual Backgrounds: Prom party planners can consider making and sharing a themed Zoom virtual background for people who attend virtual prom. This will give a sense of community and belonging when everyone attending has the same background.
  • Community Playlist: Nominate one person to DJ and play music off a crowd-sourced playlist. Ask people to share their music requests on a community playlist beforehand to prepare for the night of virtual prom.
  • School Spirit: Show your loyalty to your school with a group chant, fight song, or tradition. Be creative about how you can modify long-standing traditions to make them work virtually.
  • Sing-a-long: Pick a popular song and belt out the words! Virtual prom gives everyone a chance to sing the same words in their loudest voice together.
  • Make A Memories Slideshow: Ask community members to share photos of themselves with their favorite memories from the past four years. Compile them into a video montage with music and play the slideshow during your virtual prom.
  • Commemorate With Prom Photos: Leading up to the day of prom, ask everyone to submit collages of themselves in their prom outfits. You can even make date photos by putting two people side by side! You can still take these memorable photos and have them personally framed for your mom and dad.

Virtual Graduation Ideas

Here are our favorite virtual graduation party ideas that can be implemented safely to celebrate a truly momentous achievement in an otherwise unprecedented time.

Graduation party table.

  • Look for Graduation Ceremonies Online: If you’re missing out on graduation speeches, there are a ton of big names out there ready to share their inspirational thoughts. Whether they’re kindergartners or doctoral students, celebrities and iconic figures everywhere are shouting out the entire class of 2020.
  • Decorate to Celebrate: One thing you can do to showcase your grad’s accomplishment is by decking out your house with personalized graduation gifts and sending out graduation announcements for people to attend their virtual grad party. Order graduation lawn signs, balloons, and more to showcase how proud you are of your graduate.
  • Arrange a Video Tribute: Ask loved ones to send a heartfelt video message of how proud they are of your grad and how much they want to celebrate the big milestone. Combine the videos into a beautiful montage to surprise your graduate. Think about graduation songs you can play in the background or ways to decorate the space to honor your grad.

Final Thoughts On Hosting A Virtual Party:

There are plenty of ways to celebrate with family and friends while keeping your distance. We hope to inspire you to stay social during an increasingly isolating time and find ingenious ways to add meaning to previously planned celebrations like birthday parties and baby showers.

Additional Resources: