Hosting the Best Virtual Birthday Party
The typical birthday party is changing in the age of social distancing. Usually you spend days (or even months) planning a party, hours preparing with cooking, cleaning and decorating, and then spend time enjoying the fruits of your labors with friends and family.
Now, the only requirement is getting dressed from the waist up and making sure your immediate background is clean.. However, if you are trying to host memorable birthday party right now, there are benefits to a Zoom party and a few things you can do to make sure it’s special. Yes, putting on pants is one of them!
Making the Most of the Virtual Setting
You can take advantage of the new virtual format to include long distance family and friends who might not have been able to join in-person gathering. A socially distant birthday calls for a bit of cheesiness and a dose of creative thinking.
Video conferencing logistics present challenges for business meetings and parties alike. This is the least fun but the most important part: make sure everyone has clear instructions on how to join the party.
If you are using Zoom, you’ll be limited to a 40-minute trial if you do it for free. You can try a Google Hangout, which is free and unlimited, but tends to have more glitches. If you are using Google Hangout and want a grid with attendees faces, you can download an extension from the Chrome website.
On the invitation, put the start time (make sure to include your time zone, if you’re inviting people from different regions), as well as detailed instructions for how to join the call.
If you’re inviting people who are not totally comfortable with the technology, you can set up a call beforehand so they can have a trial run. Review steps like muting and un-muting, display changes, audio and video controls, how to change backgrounds and how to leave the party.
When sending out invitations, make it easy for guests to decline your invitation. Some people may not be in the party mood and you can let them know you will see them next year!
As host, you should feel free to “call on” people. It will feel a little forced, but normal group conversation over video chat is almost impossible, and everyone will be glad to have a chance to speak.
Be sure to take some pictures, even if they are just screen grabs. This may be a party you’ll never forget, but it’s great to capture the memories. And don’t forget to sing ‘Happy Birthday.’
Zoom Party Activities
Here are some virtual birthday party ideas for the adults and kids in your life! Providing an activity let’s your guests focus on something (other than their own face on the screen!) and gives your party structure and helps conversation flow.
Take a virtual trip
We are all missing ‘doing’ something or going somewhere for your birthday. Grab your friends and take a virtual tour of any number of museums, zoos, and even theme parks! Check out the artwork in the Van Gogh Museum or go on a virtual tour in Disney World.
Use birthday-themed virtual video backgrounds
Zoom allows users to put themselves into virtual video backgrounds. Find a fun birthday themed video or even just an image with party decor, and set it as your Zoom background
Set a theme and have everyone dress up
Time to dress up, and not just from the waist up! This is the perfect time to dress up and party indoors. Select a theme (it could be anything!) and tell everyone to dress up. You could also give out prizes to the best dressed person, best use of the theme, or even worst dressed!
Hire a Caricature Artist
Surprise your guests with a virtual caricature. Hire a Zoom caricature artist and they can draw each of your guests and send over the final image digitally. You could even print and send each guest their caricature as a party favor.
This a party classic and easy to set up on Zoom. You Tube is full of karaoke tracks, select a song, go to your Zoom video call and ‘Share screen’. Now everyone can see what is on your screen i.e the lyrics of the song. Don’t forget to share the computer audio, or you’ll be the other one singing and let everyone belt out their favorite hits.
Plan a scavenger hunt
Shake things up and plan an indoor scavenger hunt. Have all your friends running around their houses looking for items and use a timer to add even more competition to the game. For an added twist, all the tasks must be completed while holding a glass of water (or a cocktail!)
Have a trivia competition
Host a trivia competition with your friends and see who is the smartest! You can create your own quiz based on shared interests, sports, favorite films or tv shows, etc. Keeping track of points and put together a prize for the winning participant.