For your kid’s birthday bash last year, you threw a DIY pizza party followed by an epic ice cream sundae buffet. And the year before that you organized a Frozen-themed event that even managed to cater to her vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free classmates. In other words, you’re a party planning pro.
But social distancing poses an entirely new challenge (keeping six feet apart from friends and family doesn’t exactly say festive). So, how do you safely celebrate your child’s special day—and get some relief from the grim—during a global pandemic? Here are 12 creative ideas for how to throw a virtual birthday party that’s guaranteed to bring plenty of joy to the guest of honor and all who attend (from a safe distance, of course).
1. Gather family and friends on a video-call
The first step to hosting a virtual birthday bash is familiarizing yourself with the technology. Using a video conferencing service like Zoom or Google Hangouts, your kid can connect with all his favorite friends and enjoy some shared fun—without sharing any germs. These platforms are easy to navigate and have built-in features like a chatroom function as well as the ability to mute other mics—a handy tool for party games (more on that below).
2. Prepare some games
Before you dial into your Zoom party, plan some activities so that the virtual fete doesn’t take a turn toward chaos (or end up a total snooze-fest). Come up with a few games and let the other parents know beforehand so they can get organized on their end.
Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Pin the tail on the donkey. It’s the classic party game except in this version, there are a dozen different donkeys. Ask parents to get set up on their end by hanging a drawing or print out of a donkey on the wall and giving their kid a paper “tail” with a push pin or thumbtack poked through it. Children can still take turns like in the original game: While one person pins the tail, the rest of the group gets to watch their friend get dizzy and look silly while eagerly awaiting their chance to do the same. Will it be slightly chaotic? Probably. But it’s guaranteed to get the under-10 set giggling.
- Mad Libs. Create and share a long Mad Libs story with parents in advance (ask them to print it out before the party starts) so each kid can be equipped with the same page of potential laughs. Everyone can fill it out separately in real-time and take turns reading their version at the end for multiple rounds of ridiculousness.
- Pictionary. Ask parents to set up a poster board within view of the camera (a big sheet of paper taped up to the wall will suffice). Then kids can take turns creating pictures based on a secret suggestion provided by their parent while the other children try to guess what they’re drawing. (A chicken wearing a hat? A fish reading a book?) Definitely take advantage of the chatroom so the artist’s teammate (i.e., the parent) can read the goofy guesswork aloud without players talking over one another.
3. Make it a dance party
Here’s another way to crank up the fun on your kid’s virtual birthday bash: Make an upbeat playlist and tell everyone to mute their mics. Then when it’s time to boogie down, the party-goers can bust a move to the same music at the same time.