For most of us, 2020 will probably go down as one of our weirdest birthdays ever. Big gatherings and birthday hugs from your loved ones probably won’t be a part of your special day. But even if you can’t meet up for cocktails at your favorite bar or blow out your birthday candles IRL, you can still celebrate.
Now more than ever, we need to commemorate life’s special moments big and small. Not only does it make the birthday person feel special, but it's also a great way to lift all the attendees' spirits. And even if you get just a little bit creative, an online celebration will definitely break up the monotony of social distancing.
Luckily, in our virtual world, there are more ways to do that than ever. From movie nights to karaoke and costume themes, we’ve got plenty of ways to spice up this year’s birthdays.
So put on a silly party hat, and let’s take a look at how we can all get our virtual fiesta on.
1. Unique Party Invites
If you’re planning on hosting a Zoom birthday event and want to make it feel more special, skip the basic email approach and try sending a virtual party invitation. Not only is it prettier, but you can also customize it with special details about the party (like 50th birthday bash, theme party or game night).
And speaking of Zoom parties, let’s look at some fun ways to mix it up a little virtual style.
2. Zoom Dress Up Party
We’ve all been spending way too much time in our comfy clothes these days. But a birthday party, albeit virtual, is a perfect excuse to bust out your party clothes.
Let your guests know ahead of time so they can prepare for any theme you might choose. Maybe it’s as simple as semi-formal wear and a party hat, but there’s definitely room to go further here. After all, this isn’t an office meeting!
3. Toast ‘Em or Roast ‘Em
Virtual parties, perhaps even more than live parties, can be filled with awkward pauses. To keep things a little livelier tells guests to come prepared with a special toast to celebrate the birthday boy or girl.
Or if you’re looking for more laughs, tell everyone to come with a joke or funny story about the guest of honor. It’s a sure way to keep people talking and laughing!
4. Get Your Game On
Another way to keep your virtual party lively is by hosting a game night. Jackbox Games has a great collection of easy party games that you can play online. Their popular Jack Box Party collection includes favorites like Quiplash, Fibbage and Trivia Murder Party for any avid gamer.
Like a smart Trivia game? Then you may want to check out this online version of Jeopardy.
And, of course, there’s always Minecraft. Addictive as it is fun, it’s sure to keep your party peeps engaged.
5. Talent Show
Your friends may have hidden talents that you never even knew about. Maybe they can sing, tell jokes or burp the alphabet. Whatever it is they bring to the table, a video chat talent show is a great way to get everyone’s creative juices flowing.
Even if you’re not the world’s best performer, you’re sure to get a laugh from everyone’s antics.
Remember that birthday parties, just like the show, must go on!
6. Cocktail Party
Maybe you can’t hang out at your favorite bar with your BFF’s, but having a drink together can still be fun. Plus, you won’t have to use Uber to get back home.
Send out a special cocktail recipe to everyone beforehand so they can round up the ingredients beforehand. Then you can all toss back a Paloma, a California Cosmopolitan or a Jalapeño Margarita together.
Whatever you choose, try to break away from the standards. This is your chance to mix it up. Literally and figuratively for this birthday get together.
7. Karaoke Night
And what pairs better with a cocktail then some buzzed (and most likely out of tune) belting? Come on, we all secretly want to be rock stars. What better excuse than a birthday party to take center stage?
Lucky Voice is an app that can help you get the show on the road. But you can also use Zoom, Watch2Gether and YouTube to create your own karaoke bar. Check out these handy instructions by Vulture Writer, Madison Malone Kircher.
And the best part of it all, you can always hit the mute button on your least talented friends.
8. Hire Some Entertainment
If you’d rather not chance flopping, you can always hire a professional to do the entertaining.
If it’s a kids’ party, you can bring in a magician, superhero or a clown (if they don’t creep you out too much).
For teens and adults, you can try booking a band or even a comedian as many performers are now offering their services online. Services like Bash have a great lineup of talent. Heck, you can even book a Mariachi band!
Want to see what your next birthday will be like? LA based tarot card reader Kira Von Sutra is available to peer into you and your guests’ future.
And if you really want to give the guest of honor a surprise, you can book celebrities to record a special birthday message on Cameo. Imagine how thrilled your friend will be when they get a b-day shout out from their favorite actor, athlete or reality star.
9. Movie Night
You may not be able to share a big tub of popcorn, but you can still catch a flick together using the Netflix Party extension. This nifty feature has synchronized video playback so that everyone’s video will pause and resume at the same time.
Plus, there’s a chat room so that you can comment on what you’re watching. And while a quality film is always nice, sometimes a cheesy rom-com is just the ticket, especially when you can make fun of it in the chat room!
Want to make your movie night even more interactive? Make it a sing-along! Pick your favorite Disney musical and sing along with the characters. Or if you’re a Hamilton Buff, rap along!
Classics like Grease and The Sound of Music are also a lot of fun. Whatever you choose, music is a great way to bring people together even if they’re apart.
11. Dance It Out
You know you’re dying to show off some of those Tik Tok dance moves you’ve been practicing. But even if you don’t have rhythm, getting everyone moving is a great way to keep spirits high.
Let your friends and family contribute to the playlist. And choose a fun zoom background to go with the disco feel. Have any sequin tops or silly wigs? Now would be a good time to break them out for a birthday dance party.
To make it even sillier, pause the music and make everyone freeze in place at unexpected moments. You probably haven’t done that since you were 8, but it’s still good for a laugh.
12. Boozy Zoom Brunch
Missing those mimosas and dishy gossip sessions with your BFFs? A birthday party is a great excuse to get everyone together over pancakes. Put on your cutest robes and fancy PJs and let the champagne and orange juice start flowing.
Soon the conversation will be just as fluid!
(P.S. Don’t forget to use a pretty tablecloth, some flowers and a birthday cake. It will help set the mood!)
13. Dinner Party
If there’s anything a foodie appreciates on their birthday, it’s food! And there are several ways you can make it a part of your zoom party.
One of the simpler ways is to have everyone order a different dish using Postmates and rate the dishes you ordered. (it’s also a great reference for future takeout orders) And of course, it’s always nice to pick up the tab for the guest of honor.
Like to get busy in the kitchen! Send out a recipe for everyone to make ahead of time. Then sit down to dinner together and compare notes on how it turned out.
Looking for an even bigger event? Hire a virtual chef for the night and learn to cook a new dish together! It never hurts to add some new flavors to your repertoire!
14. Slumber Party
This virtual party can be great for teens, but I say you’re never too old for a sleepover!
You can start the night just like you would at an IRL slumber party - with facial masks and a little gossip. Then watch a movie together using the Netflix Party Extension.
No, you won’t be able to put someone’s hand in warm water to see if they wet the bed. But you can still share a scary story or two at the end of the night. Just don’t make it too scary. You do want to get to sleep at some point!
15. Lunch Date
Maybe the birthday guest of honor is more of a one-on-one person. There’s no reason you still can’t have some great conversation over lunch. You probably have a favorite place you like to catch up.
So why not order in your favorite dishes and dive into a great talk? You can even dress up to make it feel like more of an occasion. Another plus, you won’t have to valet your car.
16. Virtual Shopping
The perfect companion to a virtual lunch? Virtual shopping! With an app like Samesurf, you can cruise fun shops together, and let the birthday person pick out their own gift.
And while it doesn’t replace being together, a little retail therapy never hurts!
17. Virtual Tour
Museums, zoos and theme parks offer free virtual tours these days, so why not take advantage? Are you an art buff? Try the Louvre tour. Animal lover? This is your chance to go to the San Diego Zoo. You can even get a virtual look at the Vatican. OM...Gosh.
Coordinating a large group for this kind of experience might be complicated, but it’s great for a one-on-one birthday date. You can share your thoughts on everything you see and spend some quality time together.
18. Birthday Video
Making a birthday video is another way to make the birthday guest of honor feel special. If it’s a personal piece, you can edit your favorite photos and videos together.
Or if you’re planning a zoom party with more people, have everyone send in a pre-recorded video message for the birthday boy or birthday girl along with a photo or two. You can use a service like VidHug to edit them together or do it yourself if you’ve got the time and skills.
Editing birthday wishes, memories and music together is a sure-fire way to make a birthday both moving and memorable. (PS: You may want to keep some tissue nearby! Virtual tears are still real tears!)
19. Send A Cake
Yes, it’s a classic choice, but no one should go without a great piece of cake on their birthday! It also helps to keep local bakers in business. So pick out the birthday person’s favorite flavor and send it over with your best wishes.
Another option is to send everyone on the guest list some cupcakes. Then you can sing happy birthday and blow the candles out together on Zoom.
A true birthday celebration is not complete without a cake! Hurray!
20. Send Champagne
Sending champagne is always a great way to make any occasion feel more special, and virtual birthday parties are no exception. So send a nice bottle of bubbly over to the birthday guy or gal and start toasting.
21. Birthday Card By Snail Mail
Last but not least on our list is the classic birthday card greeting. No, it’s not a virtual party. And you can’t drink it or wear it.
But there’s something so very personal and touching when you take the time to write a well thought out birthday message by hand. I still have some of my favorites stored in a box and like to read them from time to time.
Quarantine may not last forever. But a great DIY birthday card will. So simple. And yet so meaningful.
Happy Birthday to Everyone!
We hope our list of virtual birthday ideas sparks your imagination and encourages everyone to celebrate. As you can see, there are still many ways to make that special person feel like a queen or king for the day, even during a pandemic.
An important reminder, let the party guests know whether the invite is on Facetime, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts or another video conferencing app, so they have time to download it before the party starts!
To those of you who have already had a birthday in 2020 or expecting one in the next months, we send you our best. Here’s wishing that we can blow all over a cake and then hand it out to our friends and family members next year. And for many years to come!
Happy birthday to all of us!
You might also be interested in: When Was the Last Time You Called Your Grandparents? 5 Ways to Communicate While Social Distancing
21 Virtual Birthday Ideas:
- Unique Party Invites
- Zoom Dress Up Party
- Toast ‘Em or Roast ‘Em
- Get Your Game On
- Talent Show
- Cocktail Party
- Karaoke Night
- Hire Some Entertainment
- Movie Night
- Dance It Out
- Boozy Zoom Brunch
- Dinner Party
- Slumber Party
- Lunch Date
- Virtual Shopping
- Virtual Tour
- Birthday Video
- Send A Cake
- Send Champagne
- Birthday Card By Snail Mail