How to Host a Virtual Party That's Just as Fun as an In-Person One

By Mali Anderson in Helping Hands

Thankfully, when life keeps us apart, there are still ways to connect with friends and family. When you learn how to host a virtual party, you can throw birthday parties and casual soirees from the comfort of your own home, even when guests are across the country or globe!

Tips for Hosting an Online Party

While you may not have to worry about accommodating guests in your home, these tips can help you throw the best virtual parties for family and friends!

  • Send a virtual invite. You'll need to let everyone know what app is needed (include a meeting link) and what to expect. If you have a party theme, share it in the invite so your guests know if they should be dressed up, ready to perform, or in a specific location.
  • Position your webcam. Many laptops and smartphones have built-in webcams. Elevating the device (a stack of stable books will do the trick) can help to provide an angle that is more flattering, and it allows you to have your discussion hands-free. Natural lighting is best, if possible, or you can position a lamp nearby to provide a source of light.
  • Be mindful of the tech. If you are meeting with a large group, muting your mic when others are talking can help to reduce the occurrence of background noise. If your house is a busy place and noises are a part of life, using headphones could be the right solution for you. Also, there will likely be a bit of camera lag. Pausing a moment before speaking can help prevent party-goers from talking over each other.
  • Go with what you know. If you have never thrown an online party before, you'll likely be more comfortable if you choose to take advantage of your favorite nook and use a device and app you are familiar with. Then, once you've dipped your toes in the virtual party waters, you can experiment with different apps and themes.

Friends sharing online laughs together and virtually.

Top Video Call Platforms

Whether you are hosting a small online dinner party or a boisterous movie night, you will need to choose a video app. There are many options, depending on the type of party you want to throw.

  • Zoom is ideal for large groups. There is a screen mode where everyone can be seen at once. The free plan has a 40-minute time limit, so plan accordingly.
  • Netflix Party is perfect for movie nights, as participants can chat while a favorite story line unfolds.
  • Houseparty is essentially a video chatroom and is great for game nights. The app is popular for playing trivia and classic drawing games.
  • Google Hangouts is great if you want throw an impromptu party. It can be helpful to use an app most people are already familiar with, too. It's easy to hop on Google Hangouts if everyone has a Google account already.

Virtual Party Ideas to Get You Started

A theme can be an exciting way to jazz up any party, including a virtual one! Here are some fun ideas to consider.

  • Read a play. The other night, a friend of mine sent out an invite for a group of us to read a short play over Zoom. We laughed as friends changed Zoom backgrounds to match their characters and pitched their voice higher or lower as they accessed their inner thespian. If this sounds fun to you, the Play At Home project provides plays designed specifically for reading at home with friends.
  • Gather over dinner and drinks. In-person party guests often congregate in the kitchen. Keeping that in mind, invite friends to have their laptops on their kitchen islands or counters. Together, you can mix beverages or cook a meal. Ramp up the stakes and turn it into a friendly cooking challenge. The winner could be the person with the most picture-ready plating or the individual who made the most creative dish with the ingredients they had on hand.
  • Start a virtual book club. While reading is an activity done alone, sharing your thoughts about a book adds to the enjoyment of taking in a story. Rotate who chooses the next book or do a quick online poll to land on a title.
  • Host a game night. There are plenty of games that are easy to play virtually, such as charades, word association games, karaoke, guessing games, bingo, trivia, and more.
  • Watch movies and shows. If there is a show you and your friends all love to watch, host a movie night together. This can be done episode by episode, or you can schedule a marathon viewing session. If the program is on Netflix, try out Netflix Party.

Woman in kitchen on video call with takeout

While virtual parties are not the same as seeing friends and family in person, they are a valuable way to connect. So, if you are living far away from loved ones, know that you can learn how to host a virtual party in a matter of minutes. Then, you can keep your loved ones close, even from afar.

Check out other ideas for connecting with loved ones on the Natural Inspiration board by @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!

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Why It's Good

When you're apart from friends and family due to geography or schedule limitations, there are still ways to connect. Celebrate life's milestones and enjoy one another's company with a virtual party! It's a fun way to share laughs, exchange ideas, and stay close.