By now we all know that Coronavirus has caused many people all over the world to be confined to their homes. According to the CDC, the best way to prevent getting sick is to avoid being exposed to the virus. As the virus continues to spread in communities, many people are choosing to stay in their homes as much as possible and avoid contact with others.
Unfortunately, being quarantined has postponed or cancelled many important events. Celebrations can still be held, however, in the comfort and safety of your home! It just takes a little creativity to find ways to celebrate COVID-style.
If you have a teen or tween with a birthday coming up, I’m sure you’ll want to do something special for them. Don’t let the Coronavirus get in the way of making your teen or tween feel extra loved and celebrated on their birthday.
Trust me, there are still plenty of ways to fill their day with birthday fun. Although it may be unconventional and not what you had in mind, a virtual birthday party is the solution to following health guidelines while still celebrating your loved one’s big day. In this article, we will go over some unique and fun ideas on how to throw a virtual birthday party for your child!
Some Things to Consider
It may feel overwhelming to embark on a virtual birthday party, especially if you don’t feel particularly comfortable with technology or if you’ve never hosted a virtual event before. But don’t worry, we’re here to walk you through it every step of the way! Before you host a virtual birthday party, consider the following three questions.
Which platform do you want to use?
There are several ways to broadcast a birthday party! Think about the technology you currently have that can be used to virtually share a birthday party celebration with others during COVID-19.
For instance, social media outlets, Zoom, and Skype are all great resources for hosting a virtual birthday party. Whichever platform you end up choosing, look up connecting instructions and bandwidth requirements for optimal performance beforehand. Let’s discuss each of these platforms in more depth.
Alright, first let’s look into a few social media platforms, specifically Facebook and Instagram. Facebook recently released Messenger Rooms to host group video chats for up to 50 people. Here you can use cute filters and backgrounds.
Likewise, Instagram offers several ways to engage groups, specifically Instagram TV and stories. Since your teen and their friends are likely already plenty familiar with these platforms, they may serve as a natural venue for a virtual party.
Moving on, Zoom is another popular choice for remote meetings for good reason. With Zoom, you can invite up to 100 people so there is no need to whittle down the guest list. While it is free for 40 minute calls, you’ll need to purchase an upgrade if you want to have a longer event. Most people are becoming familiar with the ins and outs of Zoom these days so your guests should feel comfortable using this platform.
Skype is another viable video group app choice. I love that it’s free and supports up to 50 people. While party guests could use this platform on several types of devices, they would need to download the Skype software and set up accounts in order to join.
Do you have good quality internet?
The speed of your home internet is essential to understand since it will play a big role on the success of a virtual birthday party. After all, you don’t want the video to freeze right in the middle of singing “Happy Birthday,” right?
To prevent such inconveniences from happening, I highly recommend calling your internet service provider to determine if you have a fast-enough bandwidth to support streaming a virtual party. They will be able to walk you through upgrade options or troubleshooting steps.
A few hours before the party, don’t forget to test your connection and make sure the chosen platform is working without any glitches. You’ll want to do this with plenty of time before the party is scheduled to start.
Can your guests access the party?
This is an important question to answer as you make plans for a virtual birthday party. Start answering it by taking a look at who your teen or tween wants to invite. After you’ve made a guest list, make sure the friends and family know how to access a digital party.
While the teenagers shouldn’t have any problems navigating the technology, it may be helpful to walk the older generation through how to connect to your chosen video chat platform. Consider sending a step-by-step recorded video or a how-to document explaining how to connect.
You could either make a simple guide yourself or save yourself some time and find one through a Google search. Or you may find it most effective to make yourself available to walk them through the steps over the phone.
Planning the Party
Even though the birthday party is online, it’s still important to put some planning into the event in order to make it successful. After all, they say the devil is in the details. Here are some things you need to plan.
It may be best to make an online invitation. Websites such as Evite allow you to create nice invitations and send them via email or social media. Alternatively, you can also create an event in Facebook and send it out to those you want to attend.
However you decide to invite guests, don’t forget to notate in the invitation that it’s a virtual event! Create a start time for everyone to log in to the chatting platform and join the party. If you are using Zoom or other meeting-based provider to stream the party, include a link in your invitation for guests to access.
You can also mail traditional paper invitations. With most everyone in quarantine, a personalized invitation in the mail would certainly be much appreciated!
One of the best parts of birthday parties is the yummy food! Hence you will not want to forego preparing a favorite meal or cake.
Many restaurants are still offering curbside to-go or delivery services. If your 11-year-old birthday boy has a favorite food and restaurant, call to see if they are able to deliver.
Now is a great time to get your teen or tween involved in learning to bake a cake. Look up different recipes and let your child decide what kind of cake or treat they would like for their digital party. Don’t forget the candles!
Decorations for an internet birthday party for kids are important because it helps set the tone for the event. While you can always set up a festive background on platforms like Zoom, we can all agree that it is way more fun to set up the traditional balloons, banners, and streamers!
If you don’t have any birthday party decorations in storage, it’s time to get creative! Connect colorful paper rings together and hang the chains from the ceiling. Find fabric, tablecloths, or even sheets to cover tables and drape over surfaces for added effect.
Find Christmas lights in storage and string them around the house. Light candles and use ambient light to create a fun, inviting atmosphere for your teenager’s big day. Have younger siblings make banners and signs to hang as well!
Additionally, you can even invite the party guests to decorate their individual living spaces. Doing so will fill the screen with party scenes and make your child feel especially loved as they realize how much time everyone put into celebrating their birthday.
Games and Activities
Think outside of the box when incorporating games and activities into your preteen’s virtual party. There are many ways to connect with your online guests remotely and we’re sure you’ll find at least a few that sound appealing to your preteen!
Create a dance off playlist ahead of time and share it with participants. During the party, invite guests to a dance off. Have your teen or tween be the judge to determine who wins! And of course, let them dance too!
Virtual Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt can be a fun virtual party game and can be done in one of several different ways. To do the hunt during the party itself, text or email each guest a list of items that can be found in and around their homes (a hairbrush, a plastic spoon, a screwdriver, a roll of toilet paper, a cleaning supply, a hat, a pair of socks, a non-fiction book, scissors, a notebook, a pair of sunglasses, a phone charger, a water bottle, etc.).
Then give everyone 2 minutes to collect as many of the items as they can. Whoever finds and shows the rest of the party-goers the most items is the winner. You can choose to mail or deliver an actual prize after the party if you want.
Photo Scavenger Hunt
Several days before the party, send each guest a scavenger hunt list. The list can include items found around the house or you could include items the party guests could find in their neighborhoods. Some ideas are: a house with a blue door, a car that needs to be washed, a bird, colorful leaves, someone outside, someone exercising, a library, a picket fence, a plate of food, a cloud, a sunset, a basketball, a jump rope, a cat, a crosswalk, a textbook.
Instruct the guests to take photos of as many items as they can find and text or email them back. At the party, you can share the photos and announce the winner (whoever takes photos of the most items on the list).
If you want to add even more fun, make the list include things the guest has to do (photos of the guest eating something strange, riding a bike, doing yoga, sporting messy hair, etc.).
My kids have had a great time playing “Jackbox” games with their cousins and friends during quarantine. These interactive games are played virtually and include trivia, strategy, spying, and team games. You purchase a party pack with 6 different games.
Then you give your guests the code to the game. They go to the website, enter the code, and play along with everyone else. We like to also have a Zoom or Facebook chat going so we can all see and talk to each other while we are playing. You can get Jackbox for Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and PC.
Pie in the Face
Have each guest fill a pie plate with small pieces of candy and fill the pie plate with whipped cream. During the party, each guest has one minute to pull as many pieces of candy out of the pie plate without using their hands! Whoever has the most candy retrieved at the end wins!
Purchase small jewelry making kits ahead of the party and send them to the guests. Take time during the party to assemble the jewelry pieces together. This will be a great memento for after the party and can serve as a favor too!
If your 12-year-old loves to sing and has digital guests who also love music, combine talents to create a virtual musical number! It can be as easy as turning on a favorite song and having one or more party guests sing along.
Online Codenames Game
If you or your kids have played the “Codenames” series of games, you know they are great for a party. Now you can play Codenames online for free! This guessing game involves team members giving clues to their teammates to guess words before their opponents can. It works well with a group, and we love playing it virtually with friends across the country!
Create a list of questions for your teen and their guests to answer. Allow guests to ask their own questions too! It can be something simple with “would you rather” questions or preference questions (like chocolate or vanilla?), or something more personal like “What will you remember most about this day?”
When it comes to games and activities, be creative and follow your child’s lead on what makes them happy.
Show and Tell
A twist on the questionnaires idea is to invite guests to prepare something to share with the group. There are endless options such as their favorite meme, the best TikTok they’ve seen recently, or an old, embarrassing picture from their childhood. Guests could even take turns sharing one of their talents, whether it’s playing a musical instrument or showcasing a magic trick. Anything will work that you think will get the conversation rolling!
Just because you aren’t physically in the same room as your guests doesn’t mean you can’t do an activity together. As a group you could still watch a movie on Netflix, do a fitness class together, take a virtual tour of a museum, or do a paint night. You’ll find plenty of virtual experiences which would be a fun source of entertainment for the party.
To make this social distancing birthday party one your kid will never forget, plan a few surprises! Call some friends, family, and neighbors to participate in a birthday party car parade. For those that can leave their house, organize a time for everyone to drive by your home in a special birthday party parade!
You can make it even more fun by having them decorate their cars or hang pictures and signs out of the car windows for the birthday boy or girl to see as they drive by. Make a giant banner for your front yard with a white flat sheet and painted birthday message on it.
Another fun way to surprise the birthday boy/girl is to prepare a video tribute for them ahead of time. Ask friends and family to film a brief video in which they talk about their favorite memory with the guest of honor, why they love them, share well-wishes, or even just sing “Happy Birthday.”
Then edit all the videos together to make an unforgettable memento for your child. If you’re not sure how to do that, check out Tribute, an affordable video editor, which will take care of it for you!
Although passing out favors in -person isn’t a possibility with a social distancing birthday party, there are a few ways to tell those who attend that you appreciate their support.
Have your kiddo mail a thank you card with something homemade by them. If they are artistic, have them draw or paint a small picture to include with the thank you card. If they are musically talented, have them record a song and send the mp3 file to the guests.
You could also order small favors from an online retailer and have them mailed to your guests or drop them off on guests’ door steps. Alternately, you could place favors on the sidewalk for guests to get if they drive by for a surprise birthday parade.
Have your teenager pick a fun theme for their online birthday party. Be sure to announce the theme on the invitations and ask guests to dress up. Everyone will be excited to change out of their lounge clothes and get dressed up in a fun, festive outfit! Some awesome ideas for themes include retro/hippy, roaring 20’s, or even one of your preteen’s favorite movies, television shows, or books. Regardless of what you end up going with, it never hurts to endow the birthday boy or girl with a crown!
Other Party Notes
When the big day arrives, it’s time to party! After the decorations are complete and the food has been delivered, start the party. In addition to filming the event, start your feed using Facebook Live, Instagram Live, or Zoom at the time designated in the invitation.
Have your guest of honor welcome their guests to the party with a short introduction. You could even coordinate a “grand entrance” of the birthday boy or girl at the beginning! Play some fun music in the background and enjoy your son or daughter being the center of attention.
Your kid can take the camera and give internet guests a “tour” of the party. Have them show their special decorations and any signs you made in the front of the house!
Food can be eaten before, during, or after the party, but I would recommend not eating the meal during the streaming event. Internet platforms can get glitchy if they are prolonged, so try and keep everything on a schedule.
Most important, however, is singing happy birthday and blowing out candles. This is a great way to have your guests interact! Turn down the lights, light the candles, and have everyone on the video call sing happy birthday. Then serve the cake as usual!
If you planned any surprises, be sure to capture those during the party as well! You will have one device filming the digital telecast but use other devices to film video and take pictures of your birthday girl’s reaction. The footage of this day will be something they will treasure forever and be able to show their children and grandchildren.
After the Party
After the online party has ended, spend some time with your son or daughter to reminisce. Edit videos and pictures from the party and watch it together. It’s important to remember that while everyone is adapting to this way of living, it can be especially hard for young people experiencing a birthday. Remind them that they are not alone, as evidenced by the guests who showed up to celebrate with them.
On that topic, your teen’s emotions may range from happy to sad but they may not always show how they are feeling. Reassure your teen or tween that this is still a very important day and that they are worth celebrating. Remind them that these restrictions are temporary and their willingness to throw a virtual birthday party is helping keep others safe.
If possible, spend some time planning a special outing to do in the future once Coronavirus quarantine restrictions are lifted. It is important to look to the future during hard times.
While it may be off the table to meet in-person for a traditional birthday party during a COVID-19 quarantine, an internet birthday party for teenagers can create just as many great memories!
What is a teen looking for in a virtually birthday party?
Generally a teen wants to have as normal a birthday as possible. This includes playing games, eating favorite foods, and opening gifts with family and friends. With some creativity, your teen can still have a memorable birthday celebration virtually.
What platforms can be used for a virtual birthday party?
Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Gotomeeting, Facetime, Slack, and Skype all offer good options to host a virtual birthday party.
What are some good games to play at a virtual birthday party?
With a few twists, you can do some of the same party games virtually as you could in person. Try a photo scavenger hunt, dance off, karaoke, Jackbox games., or Codenames online. Everyone just uses their device to join in the fun.