Coronavirus has caused many people, all over the world, to be confined to their homes. According to the CDC, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. As the virus continues to spread in communities, the best way to avoid being exposed is to stay in your home as much as possible and avoid contact with others.
Being quarantined has postponed or cancelled many important events. Celebrations can still be held, however, in the comfort and safety of your home! If you have a teen or tween with a birthday coming up, a virtual birthday party is the solution to following health guidelines while still celebrating your loved ones. In this article, we will go over some ideas for throwing a virtual birthday party for your child!
Some Things to Consider
Some things to consider before hosting a virtual birthday party are as follows:
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. Facebook Live, Zoom, Instagram TV/Stories, and Messenger are all great resources for hosting a virtual birthday party. A Facebook Portal device or similar technology would be especially handy for sharing events. For whichever platform you choose, look up instructions for connecting and bandwidth requirements for optimal performance.
Do you have good quality internet?
The speed of your internet at home is important when planning a virtual birthday party. Consider calling your internet service provider to determine if you have a fast-enough bandwidth to support streaming a virtual party. A few hours before the party, test your connection and make sure the chosen platform is working without any glitches.
Can your guests access the party?
Make sure friends and family who your child wants to invite can access a digital party. It may be helpful, especially to older generations, to walk them through connecting 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 also 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. Here are some things you need to plan.
Create an online invitation. Websites such as Evite allow you to create nice invitations and send them via email or social media! You can also create an event in Facebook and send it out to those you want to attend. 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 be much appreciated!
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 open and 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. 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!
Games and Activities
Think outside of the box when incorporating games and activities into your preteen’s virtual party. These can be done with your online guests too!
Create a dance off playlist ahead and 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.
To make this social distancing birthday party one your kid will never forget, plan a few surprises! Call some friends, family, and neighbors to plan a birthday party car parade. For those that can leave their house, plan a time for all of them 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 too! Use a white flat sheet and paint a birthday message on it. Attach it to some yard stakes or hang from the front of the house for the whole neighborhood to see!
Since passing out favors in person isn’t a possibility with a 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 for their guests to mail with the thank you card. If they are musically talented, have them record a song and send the mp3 to the guests. You could also order small favors from an online retailer and have them mailed to your guests. 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. Announce the theme in the invitations and ask guests to dress up as the theme. Some fun ideas for themes are retro/hippy, roaring 20’s, or one of your preteen’s favorite movies, television shows, or books!
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 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. Emotions can range from happy to sad and they may not always show how they are feeling. Reassure your teen or tween that this is still a very important day to everyone. 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.
While a traditional birthday party with lots of guests isn’t possible 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.