There are so many changes in our troubled world right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust us into self-isolation as we navigate a “new normal”. Events have been cancelled, social outings are forbidden, and life exists mostly between our own four walls. For children, that means no playdates, playgrounds, or parties. But though social outings are out, virtual parties are all the rage. You might not be to celebrate birthdays IRL, but you can throw an epic virtual birthday party!
My eldest daughter turned 11 last week and she celebrated with an online party. It was a hit! In fact, she declared it “The BEST party ever!” Now is the time for virtual parties to SHINE. Face-to-face parties are so yesterday! Zoom, Facebook LIVE and House Party are just some of the platforms getting a great workout now. Many of you will have kids who will be celebrating birthdays during this quarantine time. Don’t cancel! They need celebrating MORE now that we’re in lockdown.
Don’t let COVID dampen your birthday spirits. Put on a birthday party, isolation style! Here are some ideas and tips on how to host a fabulous virtual birthday party for your child.
Choose your platform
Google Hangout, Facebook Live, House Party, Zoom – there are so many options for hosting an online party. We chose Zoom purely because I am familiar with how it works as I’ve used it plenty for work. I like the gallery view functionality and the ability to record, screen share and create fun virtual backgrounds. Plus, it’s free! It used to be only free for 45 minutes, but they lifted the time limit in this time of isolation.
Guest list and Invitations
We made the decision to keep my daughter’s party small. My daughter invited five of her closest friends which, combined with her sisters, was plenty! If you’re contemplating an online party, make sure you check on the limit of attendees as it will vary depending on what software you’re using. My daughter created her birthday invitations using Canva and sent them out via iMessage. Technology for the win!
Choose party date and time
Just as you would for an in-person party, make sure you set a time and a date for your virtual birthday party. Specify a duration so that parents know how much time to set aside. We set a duration of an hour, but it ran a little over. If you are planning on watching a movie together then you would naturally need longer.
Create party packs for guests
A little twist on favour bags! We made up “VIP Party Packs” for the guests, which we delivered to their doorsteps a few hours before the party. Not only was it heaps of fun to put together, it also added to the excitement and anticipation. Her friends loved receiving their surprise packs! Our packs included:
- A cupcake (with teal-coloured icing as that’s the birthday girl’s favourite colour!)
- A balloon, paper plate and serviette (in teal, of course)
- A snack-sized pack of popcorn (so we weren’t handling food)
- A teal popcorn box filled with treats
- Fun masks for each of them to wear during the call
Set the scene
Ensure you have a dedicated space for the virtual party. Lighting is EVERYTHING so make sure it is well-lit. Given you don’t have guests coming to your house, you can avoid the mammoth task that is cleaning your house to get it “guest-ready”. The only tidy space you need is the space behind the camera. It’s all in the angle! The most important thing is that the guests can see the host so ensure the lighting is good. We set up the laptop on the kitchen bench, so the backdrop was the living room (which had been cleared of all the toys and mess).
I had wanted to get helium balloons, but all the party supplier shops are closed, so we didn’t really decorate the house as such. In the end the girls all changed their background on Zoom to “virtual backgrounds” so it didn’t really matter. There was a birthday background that worked just as well.
Party theme & activities
Depending on the age your child is turning you may want to set a “theme”. This is a fun idea for younger kids, and you can ask the guests to dress up in theme. We didn’t set a theme as my very-grown-up girl is far too mature for that now she is eleven, lol. Also, when she’s with her friends they talk. A LOT. So I knew that they’d be happy to chat and giggle without a prescribed “activity” as such. I did, however, organise for her younger sisters to create a quiz based on “How well do you know the birthday girl?” This was a hit and resulted in shrieks of gorgeous laughter.
My sister recently had an online party for her 10-year-old son. Knowing that “talking” isn’t a particular strength of boys in that age group, they watched a movie together. Here are some other ideas you might want to consider for your #isobirthday:
- Play an online game (like Pictionary, for example).
- Have a dance party (the guests could choreograph a dance together. Not the easiest thing to do virtually, but could be all the more fun!)
- Set a craft activity (you could send a craft pack in advance to all guests).
- Watch a movie together (with popcorn, of course!)
- Have a Lego challenge
A party isn’t a party without cake! After the girls had done the birthday quiz it was time for cake. Each guest popped a candle in their cupcake and enthusiastically sang Happy Birthday to my daughter. We put sparklers in her cupcake at home and her little sister tried to blow the candles out. It was very sweet. The only time the party fell silent was when they devoured their cupcakes. After cake we put on some tunes and they played charades, chatted and giggled for the rest of the party!
Party clean up
Here is the BEST part about hosting a virtual party. There is NO clean up afterwards! Why has it taken a global virus for me to come to this realisation? When the party was over, we simply shut down, put the computer away and the party was done!
Physical distancing may be our “new normal” but that doesn’t mean we can’t connect socially. I’ve been having Zoom catch ups with my sisters, online work meetings and virtual drinks with my gal pals! Now more than ever we need to stay connected, and thankfully technology can make it possible.
I hope this post gives you some ideas for hosting a virtual kids birthday party. While nothing can replace face-to-face connection, virtual parties bring novelty and fun to the celebration. This one will do down in history! For more party pics head to Girls Thriving on Instagram and check out the “Celebrate” highlights reel.
Have your kids been to any online parties? Have you hosted a virtual event? Let me know in the comments section below.