How to Host a Virtual Party to Boost Your Mood

Don't put your social time on pause. Here's how to host a virtual party (and make it incredibly fun).

Since graduating from college, many of my closest friends moved away to begin their new careers. In a way, I think that experience helped prepare me for quarantine. We’ve spent countless nights catching up over FaceTime and sending each other messages, texts and letters. I’ve learned that no matter the distance, you can still keep your loved ones close.

Staying Together While Apart

During quarantine, I’ve kept up with loved ones near and far by attending virtual birthday parties, double dates, friend group hangouts and themed happy hours with my co-workers. It’s made a world of a difference. And I’m not alone.

Our CEO and president, Bonnie Kintzer, has kept up with her loved ones virtually, too. Bonnie and her family recently hosted a virtual Seder with 25 people from eight states. She described it as a very special experience since they usually don’t have the whole family together for the holiday. Now she’s looking forward to attending more virtual events like cocktail hours, and catching up with her mother and daughter. She points out that just because their times spent together are virtual, it doesn’t mean they are any less special, or that they should be put on hold.

Hosting a virtual party may seem daunting at first, but there’s a way to make it incredibly fun for all people involved. Whether you’re hosting a birthday party or a happy hour with your co-workers, here are the best virtual party tips so you can sit back and have some fun.

Which Platform Should I Use?

  • FaceTime: If your whole group owns iPhones or Macs, try using FaceTime. It’s as simple as video chatting gets. Scroll to your FaceTime app, click the + symbol button, select your friends and there you have it! You’re on a video call in no time.
  • Zoom is on the rise across the country. I recommend using Zoom for larger groups. The best feature? It shows everyone’s camera simultaneously. No need to wait for the cameras to rotate while speaking.
  • Skype: Perfect for large groups, this classic video platform can be used on multiple devices from phones to Xboxes. You can even call and text cell phone numbers from Skype.
  • Facebook Messenger: For smaller groups, I recommend Facebook Messenger. This app is easy to use, and if you have a Facebook account you don’t need to set up anything new to participate.
  • Google HangoutsJust like Facebook Messenger, with Google Hangouts you don’t need to create another account to video chat. That’s a big perk. Google Hangouts is free to use straight from your Google account.
  • Houseparty is perfect for small group game nights. This app has a built-in feature where you can play games from Pictionary to Heads Up. Let the games begin!

How to Host a Virtual Party

Send a Virtual Invite

Virtual invites can be as formal or as simple as you’d like. It’s truly up to you. You can send out a quick group text, or if you’re feeling fancy whip up a virtual party invite and send it out over e-mail.

Plan Together Beforehand

No one wants to show up to a party unprepared. Discuss the party theme with your group beforehand (I’ve listed several ideas below) and what each party-goer should bring, cook or dress up like.

Designate Responsibilities

With a virtual holiday or themed party, designate tasks and responsibilities to your friends and family. For example, if you’re hosting a virtual game night, be sure to have a designated “game leader” who will establish the rules and lead the game.

Let’s Party!

Dress up, set up your camera and get your party snacks and drinks ready. It’s time to have some fun!

Virtual Party Ideas

  • Happy hours: Whip up an easy cocktail recipe and get ready for a night of laughs and chats. Virtual happy hours are perfect for girls’ nights and co-worker get-togethers alike.
  • Dinner party: Cook a dinner recipe and share a meal together with a friend (or five!). If you’re feeling up for it, make it a three-course meal with appetizers, main dishes and dessert. You can jazz things up by making it a friendly cooking competition, Great British Bake-Off style.
  • Virtual watch parties: Binge-watch your favorite shows and movies with company.
  • Show and tell: Has quarantine turned you into a stellar baker? Or maybe you want to show off your impressive antique collection? Pull a group together to play a round of show and tell.
  • Talent show: Show off your hidden talents with your friends and family. Be sure to create a lineup of the night’s performances beforehand so everyone knows when they’re ready to show their skills.
  • Band concert: Are you in a band? Or maybe you want to graduate from singing in the shower? Gather up some musicians and play a few songs together. It can be as silly or as serious as you’d like it to be. If you’re more of a music listener, attend a virtual concert together instead.
  • Book club: Reading is the perfect quarantine activity. So what better way to do it than sharing your experience with friends? Choose a book for the month and assign chapters to read each week. Then meet on video chat to discuss your thoughts together.
  • Date night: Plan a romantic dinner together and maybe even queue up a fun movie to watch at the end of the night.
  • Game night: Don’t miss out on a family game night. Play a game of charades or Pictionary without leaving the house. You can even find virtual games you can play online or on the Houseparty app.
  • Holidays and celebrations: Celebrate the birthdays and holidays you anticipate most while staying safe in the comforts of your home. Keep up family traditions like grilling on Memorial Day or whipping up a birthday treat to celebrate together online.

Virtual Party Tips

Mute Your Microphone When Others Are Speaking

This is especially important on a large group call. Even if you’re not speaking, your microphone will pick up the background noises going on behind you.

Use Headphones

If you’re hosting a virtual party in a busy room, try using headphones. That way your conversation stays between you and the party goers, and you can easily hear the conversation.

Place Your Camera at Face Level

Whether on a laptop or phone, placing your camera at face level is a must. Your family wants to see your smiling face! I recommend placing your camera on a flat surface, like a table or desk. If you’re tired of holding your phone up, try propping it up against a small object like a book or candle.

Avoid Busy Backgrounds

Avoid backgrounds that are backlit or busy (unless you’re using a fun Zoom backdrop). I recommend sitting in front of a plain wall with light that is directed towards your face.

Be Mindful of Camera Lagging

Camera lagging, meaning a slight delay in transmission, is common when video chatting, but don’t fret! If you have a spotty connection, give your friends and family a heads-up beforehand. So if your camera goes out, they’ll know you’ll be right back as soon as you can. Also keep in mind that some cameras will lag more than others when chatting. I usually wait a couple of seconds after someone speaks to make sure we don’t talk over one another.

Focus On Time Spent Together

I know it may be tempting to focus on current events in the world, but make sure you use this time to take a much-needed break from it all. Be fully and truly in the moment and make some new memories along the way.

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Originally Published on Taste of Home

Christina Herbst
Christina is an Assistant Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in content creation and SEO optimization. She enjoys trying out local foodie restaurants and coffeehouses and adding copious amounts of garlic and cheese to any recipe she can get her hands on.