How to Plan a Virtual Party

Fabulous Parties


This time of year, we can usually start to look forward to our calendars filling up with parties and celebrations. But unfortunately, there are times (like now) when it just isn’t possible to gather your loved ones in person. Does that mean you have to forfeit the festivities? No! While you may not be able to throw the bash you had originally planned, you can re-imagine it as a virtual party. That is, one where you celebrate remotely, with guests attending via video platform. It’s a lot easier and more fun than you might think, and you can invite people who may not have been able to make it. Whether it’s an adult or children’s birthday party, a bridal or baby shower, or just a fun get together, some basic party planning will make it a success.

Here are some pointers to make you the virtual party host(ess) with the most(ess)!

Choose your platform. There are lots of great software options for hosting a virtual party. For example, Zoom, Skype, Houseparty, Google Hangouts and Facetime. You can even have a Netflix party, using the Chrome extension. The platform you choose will sometimes dictate the number of guests you can have, and the sort of vibe you create. Try out a few, and see which one best fits your needs.

Make it festive. It may be a virtual party, but it shouldn’t feel like a work conference call. Add traditional party elements like dressing up in your finest (or to a theme), adding some fun décor in your home space, and even suggesting a shared menu (or drink). And there should always be cake!

Send an invitation. Yes, of course you can just text people a link, but an official invitation starts things out on the right note and builds excitement. An easy way to go is with an e-invitation service like GreenEnvelope, Evite or Paperless Post. Include information on which video conferencing app you’ve chosen, time (and time zone), and theme or dress code (if you have one).

Stage your party planning area. You want your guests to be able to see you (and vice versa), so give some thought to where you place your phone or laptop. A tripod can make the world of difference. If possible, link your device to a projector or large flat-screen TV. Make sure you have good lighting, and add a banner or a few balloons behind you for extra party atmosphere. Experiment a bit ahead of time to make sure you have the best setup for you.

Give plenty of technical assistance in advance. Depending on your group, some people will be more or less comfortable with using video conferencing software. Make sure you give them plenty of information beforehand, and schedule a test call with anyone you think may struggle. You should also allow people to sign on early if they want to, so that any issues can be straightened out and the actual party can start with a bang.

Keep things moving. It’s a good idea to set a specific time period for your party (an hour is about right). Even if some of you carry on a little longer, it allows guests to bow out when they need to. Make sure things don’t drag by introducing everyone, and leading the conversation where necessary. You could also consider a group activity, from crafting to wine tasting. Party games are another option (Houseparty has them built in). However, these should be kept to two to three at most, and have easy-to-follow rules. If you’re opening presents, rather arrange to do this one-on-one with the giver at an earlier or later date.

The best part about a virtual party? Not having to clean up when it’s over!