How to plan a virtual birthday party that feels like a traditional party through cohesive decorations, and activities you can do together despite being far apart to help everyone feel like they’re really there.
Emi has been talking about her 3rd birthday ever since her 2nd. If you ask her what we’re doing she’ll tell you “I get to ride a camel, and feed giraffes, and go on the merry-go-round” which is indeed the plan for her birthday… or at least it was until Coronavirus.
There’s a part of me that wondered if maybe we should just pretend it isn’t her birthday, not until we can actually go to the zoo to do all those fun things we had planned and have a party where we can actually have guests.
But even if the stay-home orders go away, I don’t think social distancing is going anywhere anytime soon. Plus, the fact that she turns three in the middle of a global pandemic is something to embrace and remember.
So I started wracking my brains trying to figure out how to plan and throw a virtual birthday party that isn’t lame and feels like as much like an in-person party as possible. It also has to make Emi feel loved, special, and celebrated on her birthday.
benefits of a virtual birthday party
No one gets left out. I’m actually pretty excited because a virtual birthday party will allow my side of the family (the ones we don’t live close by) to participate.
Less Expensive. Since Matt is still in grad school we were a little iffy on whether or not we could afford to throw Emi a birthday party. Now, since we don’t have to provide food for everyone it’s much more manageable cost-wise.
Less Mess. Because the whole party will be taking place via webcam I only have to decorate one little corner of our house, the part directly behind where Emi will be sitting. Plus, since there wont’ be kids running around everywhere there will be much less mess to clean up afterward.
how to plan a virtual birthday party
For me, a good birthday party is comprised of four things. Celebrating together, decorations, dessert, and some kind of activity. I wanted to figure out how to bring all of these elements together in a virtual setting to give the same feeling.
1. Decide how you will gather
There are a lot of platforms that allow people to gather virtually. Matt has been using Zoom a lot since his school switched to online and they’ve given him unlimited minutes because of COVID19 so that’s what we’ll be using.
We made sure to let everyone know this would be the platform we’d be using so they have time to create an account and get familiar with the program before the day of the party.
2. CHOOSe a theme & decorations
When choosing a theme for your virtual birthday party keep it simple. In fact I would argue that a theme is optional. Blow up some colorful balloons and call it good!
If Emi wasn’t such a big fan of animals that is probably exactly what we would do but since she is, we’re going with a Young, Wild, and Three, theme.
Like I said before, decorating for a virtual birthday party is going to be so easy! Instead of worrying about every nook and cranny of the house I only have to decorate the wall directly behind where Emi will be seated. This means I can go totally crazy and still probably spend less than if we’d had an in-person party.
Right now my plan is to cut out jungle leaves from regular old construction paper to paper the wall with. I’ve also got some eucalyptus vine I’ll probably add for a little texture and diversity.
To help us all feel like we’re at the same party despite being far apart, I wanted to send our guests some kind of decoration to help them get into the theme. I figured out how to make these DIY Party Hats from animal print scrapbook paper to send out to our guests. I’m mailing them un-assembled to my Utah family and will drop them off to our local guests a few days before the party.
3. Plan your Virtual Birthday party, AKA what will you do?
I definitely wanted our virtual party to be more than just everyone singing the happy birthday song to Emi before she blows out the candles. My goal was to make it feel as much like a traditional party as possible and that meant activities, opening presents, and eating cake together.
I came up with this rough outlines for our party. I think each activity will take around 15 minutes for an hour total.
1. Open Presents
My family doesn’t really do birthday presents but Matt’s family is all for it. Rather than force it one way or the other we decided to stress that we don’t expect gifts but there will be an opportunity to watch Emi open gifts for those who wish to send one.
2. Sing Happy Birthday & Eat Cake
After presents we’ll light the candles, sing happy birthday, and all eat a piece of cake together. I’m planning on dropping off cupcakes topped with mini plastic animal figurines to our local guests. I’ll be sending the animal cupcake toppers along with the party hats to our Utah guests and have encouraged them to have cupcakes on hand so they can participate in this portion of the party.
I figure at this point any of our guests who ready to sign off can but hope that any kids will stick around for the next two activities.
3. Animal Scratch Masks Activity
I wanted to have some kind of thematic activity that we could all do together to fulfill the activity portion of the party. I found these adorable animal scratch masks on Amazon and think they’re the perfect activity to do together long distance. I’m mailing these to our Utah guests and dropping them off in our party packets to our local guests.
4. Play with PLAY DOUGH
Just in case the kids aren’t done playing yet I wanted to have one more activity ready. I decided playdough would be another fun long-distance activity and am hoping it’s something most people have on hand. Even if they don’t it’s super cheap to buy or easy to make and always great to have on hand for kid entertainment.
plan ahead and have fun!
In order to plan a virtual birthday party that feels like a traditional party, the key is to plan ahead. There are still several weeks before Emi’s birthday but because I want to send/drop off birthday party packages I wanted to make sure I give myself plenty of time, especially since mail has been slower due to COVID19.
Once you’ve got the basics in place and executed your plan, remember to sit back and enjoy the party! This is new territory for everyone, so don’t stress if something doesn’t work they way you thought it would or the technology goes on the fritz.
Your little one will pick up on how your feeling and it will greatly influence how they perceive and experience their virtual birthday party. Make sure your attitude is great, be excited, and keep a smile on your face!
I’ll write a Virtual Birthday Party Follow Up after her party to let you know how it goes!
Pin it for later!