Today, TN joined many other states with a mandatory “Safe at Home” order or quarantine. Thankfully, I went to the store Friday and got enough food for a week. So I will be good at home for the next few days. Like many now, I’m also working from home likely until the end of April. And let me be clear when I say working from home is great for me. I don’t have children and don’t have pets. I’m very productive and efficient when I’m home. I know everyone isn’t like this and it can be a struggle. But we’re not here to talk about work. We’re talking about hosting virtual parties with your family and friends.
If you never heard of Zoom or used it before, you probably have now. You’ve either used it for work the past few days or been invited to a virtual happy hour. I’m an extroverted introvert. Usually after work, I go straight home and don’t really do too much interacting virtually or IRL. But last week, I did multiple happy hours and parties all from the comfort of my own comfy couch. It started with my friend Kendra’s 32nd bday which is on Saint Patrick’s Day. We have been going out to celebrate her birthday since 2007 freshman year. This year hit differently with everything going on, but we had a great time thanks to Zoom. Here are a few tips for you to host a virtual party everyone will enjoy.
1. Choose the Best Platform For Your Group
Depending on the size of your group, Zoom might not be the best platform. If all of your friends have Apple products and is less than 10, FaceTime might be easiest. That way no one has to download anything additional onto their devices. Skype is another option too. But Zoom currently seems to be the most popular. If you do a free account on Zoom your meeting is only good for 45 minutes and someone else will have to start one or schedule 2 back to back. I suggest using the desktop version for big groups, then you can see everyone at once in gallery view. Here is the full list of apps and website hosting suggestions:
- Facebook Watch Party
- House Party
Also, Netflix just released Netflix Party so you can watch Netflix shows and movies together with friends while chatting. It takes less than 5 minutes to download Netflix Party and it’s very easy to use. This is a similar feature to Facebook Watch Party. The platform you choose also depends on the speed of your party. If you want to keep it mellow, Netflix Party is likely a good one.
2. Send an Invite with Platform Information
Everyone in your party might not have used Zoom, Skype, Facebook Watch Party or Netflix Party before. So make sure they know what they’re doing and are all set-up prior to the start time. Send a note via text message or email with download and use instructions on the platform of your choice. You don’t want to be 15 minutes into your free Zoom still trying to get people in.
Make sure your guests know when the party actually starts. Everyone is at home and all they have to do is logon. Let them know timeframe so they’re not too late and miss all of the fun.
3. Layout the Theme & Party Rules
Every party needs a good theme. There are going to be a lot of these popping up over the next few weeks. If you want your virtual party to stand out, make sure it has a theme. Easy ones are crazy pajamas, adult onesies, spring, beach or favorite graphic t-shirt. If you want to do your party over dinner, make it a potluck. Have people share what they cooked. People can swap recipe ideas. For the easy dress up ones, people have to show off their outfits and you can even have a best dressed contest. If you’re watching a movie or show, encourage people to dress up like their favorite character.
But think about themes that are truly relevant for the next few week and really get creative. We’re going to miss a lot of events of the next few weeks, so make up a virtual one. There may be people that want a do-over Saint Patrick’s Day. Are you a Millennial that got lumped into the Gen Zers that went on Spring Break a few weeks ago? Well have a Spring Break in your house. We will likely miss Easter hunts too. What are things people have in their homes they can make costumes out of? Here are a few suggestions for virtual party themes:
Every house party needs house rules. This is very important for virtual parties. All it takes is one guest with their mic not on mute to ruin the party. This goes back to the previous rule. Ensure your guests know to be in a relatively quiet place so they’re not disturbing everyone else at the call.
4. Have Activities and a Schedule Planned
The never-changing keys to a good party include good people, good music, good drinks, good food, a good theme and fun activities. You’ve got everyone covering their own drinks and food which allows you to focus on the theme (check fro previous step) and what you all will do during your party. Activities can be very important if you’re mixing groups of friends. Ice breakers might fall flat in person, but can be easier when done virtually.
Due to the circumstances of hosting your virtual party, I would start with a check in to see how everyone is doing o a scale of 1-10. See how they’re holding up. Then get into the more fun and lighthearted party stuff. Some fun games include
- Truth or Dare (players ask questions and make dares)
- Charades (virtual)
- Two Truths and a Lie (players make statements)
- Never Have I Ever (players ask questions)
- Cards Against Humanity (virtual)
- Heads Up (app)
- Show n Tell (have a preset list of items to go and find in your home and show off)
- Questions (write out questions and place in a bowl. Go through the guest list and they have you draw for them)
Are you planning your own virtual party or attending any this week? If you’re looking for ways to stay positive while inside, be sure to check out my other post “Social Distancing and Staying Positive.” Being in the house especially if you live alone can be tough. Hopefully, there are a few tips that will help you on that list in addition to these tips. What other ways are you getting through this quarantine? Let me know in the comments below. As always, stay safe and keep your head up.