It’s hard to remember that there was a time not too long ago when I only logged in to Zoom for work. Because my job has always been remote, this was often our team’s way of communicating. Who could have predicted that this business platform would become one of our chosen ways to create celebrations (then again, who could have predicted much of anything in 2020)? Since this will be the norm for the foreseeable future, I say we embrace the technology. Here are five ways you can make your Zoom party feel like an immersive event, and just as special for your child as a traditional party.
1. Start with the invitations
I like to bring a tangible element into a virtual party by mailing invitations. In my opinion, paper invitations can generate more enthusiasm and anticipation for an event than a digital one because your guests have a physical reminder. Your invitation should clearly introduce the theme of your party so everyone knows what to expect. For a few themed invitation ideas, check these out. Remember to include a cheat sheet on how to log in and use Zoom if there are guests who haven’t signed on before.
2. Make it nice
One of my favorite ways to wow guests at a party is to make decorations that coordinate with the theme of the event. Luckily when you are hosting a Zoom party this doesn’t require a lot of work!
The simplest (and usually free) option is to send a photo to your guest list and encourage everyone to use it as their virtual background. This creates a cohesive look across the mosaic tiles and makes it seem like everyone is in the same place. Plus, and this is a HUGE bonus in my house, using a background image means no cleaning! Simply upload the picture and voila, you’re done!
For truly special events, consider mailing (or dropping off) decorations for people to set up themselves. You can provide them for all guests or just the guest of honor. When I hosted a Zoom baby shower for my cousin, we sent her balloons, banners, and cute baby blocks. These touches helped create a feeling of a “real” party.
3. Dress to impress
No, I don’t mean you need to put on heels (frankly, I don’t even know where mine are anymore). Dress up for the theme! Hosting a zoo theme? Encourage everyone to wear animal prints. Mickey Mouse theme? Dress like one of the Clubhouse crew. After all, a costume always makes you feel like you are a PART of the party!
4. Feed the masses
Admittedly this is one of the most difficult (and potentially costly) ways to upgrade your party. When I hosted my cousin’s Zoom shower, I had the brilliant idea to send everyone a sweet treat so we could all enjoy them during the call.
What I didn’t plan was the fact that because technology meant we could have guests from across the country, I would have to sort out the logistics of getting treats across the country. I made a spreadsheet of each delivery services I could think of, then guest by guest found options that would work. While I was able to get something for everyone, I did not account for the delivery and service charges. All of a sudden a $3 cake pop was $12. Now I will never pretend to be a mathematician or economist, but even I can see that this is not a great option.
If you’re hosting a local crowd, your best bet is to pick up some treats at the store (if anyone is around Kansas City, I’m partial to Emily Kate’s gluten-free cupcakes at Whole Foods) and drop them off on doorsteps the morning of with a sweet note.
Guests scattered all around? Send a gift card in a small increment to a nearby bakery. That way they can pick out their favorite dessert and you don’t have to pay for delivery.
5. Add some structure
If you have a lot of people you will definitely need a way to organize your event. In a normal, in-person party, people will naturally form into small groups to chat and catch up, but online everyone is just there. Together. This could mean one person might dominate the conversation (I may or may not be the talker in my group).
Create a balance between open convesations and an activity or two.
If you have older kids, create a fun trivia game on Survey Monkey. Create questions about the theme of the party or trivia about the birthday kid. You could also host a digital movie night and use Netflix’s Teleparty extension for Chrome (small downside: this is a chatbox rather than a video on Zoom so you might want to keep your Zoom video on during the film).
For a younger crowd, email few coloring pages ahead of time for the kids to decorate during the party. BINGO is another simple choice that translates well online and lets everyone play together.
Maybe you want to get the kids up and moving. Make a scavenger hunt that sends kids on a hunt around their house. Better yet; coordinate the search with your theme!
Remember that your Zoom party can be as elaborate or simple as you want it to be. By incorporating a few of these ideas you can make it even more special! Best part? No cleanup. Now that is a reason to party!