Everything You Need to Know to Host a Virtual Party
Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate! In this post, we give you step-by-step instructions AND free Zoom backgrounds so you can plan and host a virtual party to stay connected with friends and family and enjoy life’s greatest moments.
1. Guest List
Once you’ve picked the date and time for your virtual event, you’ll want to build your guest list. If you’re working from an event you had already planned but had to reschedule, you’re ahead of the game! If not, no worries – just grab a pen and paper and start jotting down guests. (You’ll also want to gather home and/or email addresses if you can for the next step.) If you’re using the increasingly popular Zoom, even the free version allows for 100 attendees per session, so don’t worry about limiting the fun!
Next comes the invitation, and you have lots of options:
- Snail Mail – In this new, all virtual world, a paper delivery can be extra exciting. If your event is at least 2-3 weeks out, consider sending a physical invitation in the mail. You can purchase online templates to print at home, order invitations online or even make your own! And if you’re short on stamps, don’t fret. You can order some online from the U.S. Postal Service to be delivered to your door in 5-7 days.
- Email – An email invite allows you to include the link to the meeting and makes it easier for guests to quickly add the event to their calendars. You can simply send the event details right in the body email, or, you can get fancy by using free tools like Paperless Post or Evite.
- Facebook Event – If you don’t have all your guests’ home or email addresses, the easiest option is a good ol’ fashioned Facebook Event! You can create fun images to include on your event page for free with Canva, an easy design tool that has pre-sized templates for social media posts.
Be sure to provide video dial-in instructions for any attendees who might be new to the virtual party game.
3. Picking a Theme
Just because your guests won’t be in the same room doesn’t mean you can’t have an Instagram-worthy event. Whether you’re hosting a virtual birthday party, a virtual baby shower, a virtual bridal shower or just a virtual happy hour, a theme makes any event feel special!
To pick the perfect theme, think about your guest(s) of honor – even if that’s you! – and ask yourself:
- What are his/her favorite books, movies or TV shows?
- If you had to describe him/her in three words, what would they be?
- What is his/her style? Does he/she like bright colors and funky patterns, or does he/she prefer neutral tones and greenery?
Once you’ve answered those questions, it’s time to get inspired. Our Party Ideas page has tons of themed celebrations to get you started. Your theme can show up throughout your event in many ways:
- Attire – If you’re the special guest (or the one who picks out the clothes for your special guest), have fun! If you’re hosting a kiddo’s super-hero themed birthday party, a cape is critical. If you’re a mommy-to-be, that boho maternity dress that spotlights your bump will still help you light up the digital room. Or, if you’re a bride-to-be, wear your little white dress with confidence! Consider asking your guests to dress on theme, too! They would probably love a reason to step out of their new daily wardrobe of athleisure gear.
- Food & Drinks – Even a virtual party requires a cake – especially one that matches your theme. And even better, if you’re the one being celebrated, you don’t have to share! But, if all this time at home has turned you into America’s next great baker, you could deliver the love with little care packages to attendees – at a safe distance of course – so that your guests can enjoy the sweet treats with you. If a happy hour or bridal brunch is what you’re celebrating, share a themed cocktail recipe that guests can make at home and sip together.
- Invitations and Thank-Yous – Whether you’re just writing a quick email to invite guests or creating a handmade masterpiece, you can work your theme into the wording and design.
And, of course, decorations!
4. Decorations (a.k.a. FREE Zoom Backgrounds!)
There is no better way to make an event feel special than with themed decorations! Virtual parties might not require that you fill an entire room with décor, but you’ll at least want to have a great backdrop. And no décor lifts spirits like balloons!
If you have a Balloon Time Helium Tank at home, even a few balloons behind you will bring a smile to the people on the other side of the screen. Don’t worry – if you are all out of helium, we’ve still got a solution!
Download any of our Free Zoom backgrounds to use during your virtual celebration.
Visit our Virtual Gathering Backgrounds page and pick from one of the fun, balloon-filled designs. We’ve got options for birthdays, bridal showers, baby showers and everyday events!
- Once you’ve identified the image you want to use, simply right click and save the image to your computer. Simply upload this image to your video conferencing platform, and party on!
- To use the background on Zoom, log in to your account and go to “Settings.”
- Scroll down to the “In Meeting (Advanced)” section and turn on the “Virtual background” setting.
- Next, log in to your Zoom app and click the “Settings” icon.
- Select “Virtual Background” and make sure your video is evenly lit so your background shows up properly.
- Add your Balloon Time background by clicking the “+” button next to “Choose Your Background” and selecting the image from wherever you saved it on your computer.
5. Games & Activities
Now that you’ve got an Instagram-worthy background and all your friends and family gathered, it’s time to party! Many of the games or activities you would plan for an in-person party can be adapted for your virtual celebration. For example:
- Bride or Groom/Mom or Dad Guessing Game – Ask guests to grab two sheets of paper and write “Bride” or “Mom” on one and “Groom” or “Dad” on the other. Then, ask questions like, “Who has more shoes?” for a bridal shower or “Who is most likely to change the first diaper?” for a baby shower. Guests can hold up their answers to join the fun!
- Guess The Art Game – Perfect for birthdays or happy hours, this classic guessing game that just requires a large piece of paper and a marker! Select an “artist” to start and have him/her draw a random object on a piece of paper hung on the wall in front of their camera. Guests can yell out their guesses as to what the artist is drawing, and whoever guesses correctly gets to take a turn drawing!
- Opening Gifts – If your celebration includes presents, save them for your virtual event! With everyone gathered, the birthday boy or girl, the mom-to-be or the bride-to-be can open gifts in front of the camera just as they would in-person, giving the gift-givers a chance to watch their loved one’s happy reaction.
Show off your party!
Don’t forget to take photos of your celebration and all the creative elements you’ve included! During this crazy time, a gridlock-style collage of faces on a screen is a beautiful reminder that we’re all in this together, even if together means virtually.
Share your photos and this instructional guide, on social media to help your friends and family find more reasons to celebrate!
Balloon Time is not affiliated with Zoom or any other brands mentioned/linked in this post, nor did any other brand have any part in this post or the Balloon Time virtual backgrounds.