How to Throw the Best Virtual Birthday Party

Necessity is the mother of invention — which means that even if you can't get together in person, you can still throw a really creative birthday bash.

October 21, 2020
By: Caylin Harris
Candles burning on slice of cake with sprinkles near champagne


Candles burning on slice of cake with sprinkles near champagne

Photo by: Getty


If the pandemic teaches us anything, it’s going to be a renewed appreciation for the people we love and celebrating them in big and small ways. Pretty much anything feels like a party these days — even your morning run for to-go coffee. Since birthdays don’t stop coming, here are some smart and easy ways to celebrate with the people you love:

Send invites.

Our social calendars might not be jam packed right now, but it’s still a good idea to send invitations to a virtual birthday party just like you would a real one. A digital invite can easily communicate party info to guests, keeps track of the RSVPs in real time, and allows you to follow up with additional intel as the party gets closer. Using a digital invite platform like Paperless Post lets you design a custom version on one of their free templates too. If you’re feeling a little old school, paper invites could be a fun alternative — everyone loves to get mail.

Coordinate cake and food.

It feels more like a group gathering when everyone is chowing down on the same thing. If you’re all local, why not support your favorite nearby takeout spot? For friends who haven’t tried it, you can introduce them to a new place, and for existing fans it’s nice to have to order one of your favorite meals. For sweets it’s the same; while people can go rogue and make whatever they want, it’s kind of fun to know what someone’s favorite cake and frosting combination is. Communicate the guest of honor’s tastes ahead of time so people can recreate it on their own.

Young woman watching movies in home theater


Young woman watching movies in home theater

Photo by: Getty


Have a movie night.

A super low maintenance way to keep people entertained without having people talk over one another — picking a movie to watch. Keep your crowd in mind; make sure if there are kids on the Zoom party that the movie still works for everyone. It’s fun to dust off an old favorite, but with all of the new movies being release on-demand, why not take advantage and order something new?

Have a dress code.

We all need an excuse to abandon athleisure. Pick a theme — the more extra the better. Some playful ones we’ve seen making the rounds? Full-on formalwear, an 80’s workout theme, famous couples, or even costumes. It’s fun to have an excuse to get creative with your outfit or makeup, and then give everyone a chance to show off their look on your call.

Add festive decorations.

It’s hard to get excited about decorating if no one is going to see it. Focus on making a cool backdrop behind you and don’t worry about the rest. There are a few low-cost ways to make a big impact. Use crepe paper streamers, but layer them. Start by taping the streamers at the top and then gently twist then tape at the bottom. Or add a fringe to your streamers. Using a pair of multi-blade herb scissors snip the streamers on each side leaving the middle alone. Or create a balloon garland; balloons are much cheaper when they’re not filled with helium and a garland only needs your own hot air and some string to come together.

Play a game.

This involves a little creativity, but with the right type of game it can go really well. Traditional board games like Scattergories or Trivial Pursuit can be played with smaller groups if you have a person willing to moderate. Pictionary or charades can be fun too if you’re willing to get a little creative.

Upgrade a basic box cake.

OK, so maybe you’re not a pro, but you can make a simple box cake feel more fun. Here are a few easy ways to decorate one:

  • Place a cookie cutter or a piece of paper on top of your cake then dust with sprinkles around it to leave that shape in the icing.
  • Not feeling fondant? Use a hard candy instead. Warm candy chews (like Starburst) between your hands, then roll them out until flat with a rolling pin. Use a small cookie cutter to punch shapes into them and place them on top of the cake.
  • Add a cute cake topper, ike clean a cute plastic animal toy — and make a little birthday hat for them.
Watermelon fruity cocktail mocktail drink decorated with cubes of fresh watermelon and rosemary


Watermelon fruity cocktail mocktail drink decorated with cubes of fresh watermelon and rosemary

Photo by: Getty


Create a custom cocktail (or mocktail!).

Mix, shake, and muddle — it's fun when everyone's drinking the same fun beverage. Try to keep the ingredient list adaptable and accessible, so everyone will be able to recreate the drink.

Make it instructive.

Invite a pro to teach people something cool during the party — someone could do a live cooking demo, teach people how to arrange flowers or make a flower crown, do a tarot card reading; the possibilities are endless. It’s always fun to learn some fun new skills to take back to your own house.

Raise a glass.

It’s nice for everyone to go around and say something nice about the guest of honor. If you want people to do this live on the call, give them a heads up ahead of time. Or make it interesting; have people share how they met the person or a favorite memory instead. If the birthday boy or girl is shy, have guests write their toasts down instead, so they can read them privately.

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