How to Host an Epic Virtual Celebration or Birthday Party

If you can’t be with the ones you love to mark those special milestones and holidays, here are 17+ ways you can get together virtually to celebrate and make it fun and memorable.

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Start With Party Decorations

You may not be able to wow guests in person with streamers, balloons, party hats and confetti, but that doesn't mean you should pass on decorations. With Zoom, you can upload a custom background, like three festive dogs wearing party hats (pictured above). Explore Canva for dozens, if not hundreds, of colorful virtual background templates. You can even make your own using free images found on royalty-free photo sites like Pixabay.

Kick It Off With a Video Card

It's never been easier to create a fun video montage, thanks in large part to TikTok's mobile video platform (and the many editing tutorials on YouTube). Reach out to friends and family for short video messages that can be strung together into a montage. Add in background music, filters and special effects to create the best-ever celebration card. Alternatively, leave the heavy lifting to someone else with Tribute, which collects and compiles the videos for you.

Let the Games Begin

You can't have a party without games. Go old school with Bingo, a classic game that everyone can play on a video chat. Simply ask all guests to print out Bingo cards, then share your screen and open up Let's Play Bingo, which automatically calls out numbers. For trivia lovers, look to Crowdpurr. Guests use their cell phones or tablets to answer trivia questions, earning points for correct responses and time to answer each question. A leaderboard keeps the game exciting and competitive.

Share a Slideshow of Memories

Relive the memories by creating an engaging slideshow using photos and videos taken through the years. On the video call, share your screen with guests and play the celebration slideshow so everyone can watch at the same time. It's a fun and easy way to make everyone smile as you celebrate. Online services, like Smilebox and Biteable, make it a snap to create simple and beautiful slideshows with music, transitions and special effects.

Hold a Virtual Wine Tasting

You may not be in one room, but you can still sample wines as a group. Enter BottlesNation, which hosts one-hour virtual wine tastings led by a certified sommelier. Choose your date and time, as well as your tasting type (reds, whites, rosés). Each participant will receive four bottles by mail for the wine tasting. Alternatively, some individual wineries, like Stony Hill Vineyard in Rutherford, California, are hosting virtual tastings of their wines on pre-set dates and times. Simply buy the wines and register for the tasting session.

Learn More: Virtual Wine Tastings to Try at Home

Host a Murder Mystery Party

Add an element of surprise and intrigue to your celebration with a murder mystery theme party. Who knew you could solve a murder from the comfort of your own home, using Zoom, no less?! Simply book an online event with The Murder Mystery Co. and a professional actor will take the reins, hosting the two-hour party as you play detective in a stirring mystery starring party guests on video chat. It's a fun and unique way to come together as a group when you can't actually be together in person.

Take a Class Together

When you're eager for more than conversation and reminiscing on a Zoom video call, try a virtual group class that you can all do at the same time. For exercise enthusiasts, book a live private fitness or yoga class with The Sweat Lab. For those with a creative side, Clay Art Center in Port Chester, New York, is hosting virtual birthday parties and celebrations. Over Zoom, participants make artworks from clay, like a rocket ship or a leaf dish. Virtual paint-and-sip parties are possible too with Key to My Art.

Learn More: 17 Resources for Virtual Experiences & Online Classes You Can Do at Home

Host a Movie Night

You may not be able to sit next to each other in a theater, or even on the same couch, but you have (nearly) the same experience of watching a movie together with online browser extensions, like Netflix Party. This free add-on lets everyone watch a movie together and even discuss it in real-time with a built-in chat feature. Another to try is BBC Together, which works in the same fashion, only with BBC content. One more to check out is Scener, which syncs with Netflix and HBO, and allows guests to chat about the movie as it plays.

Raise the Bar with a Princess, Clown or Celebrity

Video shout-outs and warm wishes from friends and family members are fabulous, but how about inviting a clown, princess, superhero or celeb to your party. Project Princess arranges virtual parties hosted by princesses, including Snow White and Elsa, as well as superheroes like Batman and Wonder Woman. Up the fun with a live, virtual birthday party and magic show with Lilac the Clown. Personalized video messages can be arranged with Cameo, which has a roster of musicians, athletes and actors, like Sean Astin, Lisa Loeb and Brett Favre.

Let Them Eat Cake

In the words of Marie-Antoinette, "let them eat cake." As in, no celebration is complete without cake. Of course, you can't all eat slices from the same cake, but we've got workarounds for you. One idea is to share a simple birthday cake recipe everyone can make in their own kitchens and dig into on the video call, like this Fluffy Confetti Birthday Cake. Yum-o. Alternatively, Bake Me a Wish specializes in gourmet birthday cake delivery to all 50 states.

Get the Recipe: How to Make a Magical Unicorn Birthday Cake

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