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Birthday parties are one of the biggest milestones that happen yearly and every one of them should be celebrated, especially for kids and teens. But how do you throw a celebration when everyone is so scattered? The answer- by having a long distance virtual birthday party of course!
As I write this, I’m at home, under quarantine as a “non-essential worker” during a global pandemic. That being said, the more I thought about this specific subject, the more it made sense for other occasions too.
Excuses to throw a virtual birthday party:
- Family members are deployed
- Your stationed or living far away from other members of the family
- Your child is immune compromised and it’s flu season
- There’s a global pandemic and you are under direct orders to stay home
- Someone special in the family (or a close friend) recently underwent chemotherapy and needs to avoid as many germs as possible
The list goes on and on, but as you can see a virtual birthday party means a germ free birthday party! Not to mention it can be much cheaper than a traditional party anyways. (That’s probably my favorite part.)
How to Throw a Long Distance Birthday Party
With my little girl turning 7 in May and there being no signs of school restarting until next year, I knew I had to do something. She’s that kid that’s so wild and crazy sweet that she invites EVERYONE to her birthday party.
She loves school, her classmates, and her teacher too, so being out of school for this long has been hard on her emotionally. So giving her a virtual party has been on my to-do list and I’m sharing the breakdown here.
What you need for a virtual party
First, determine what type of party you want to throw.
In this case, we’re doing a “virtual sleepover.” Of course, this is a total redundancy since it’s only going to “maybe” be a few hours online and during daylight hours. But we’re creative. So it’s totally okay.
To make it more “sleepover-like” we’re making the dress code be pajamas!
Like most parties we still need:
- A party venue
- Birthday invitations
- Fun games to play with friends
- and possibly a party favor for the guests
This is super easy- unlike traditional parties where you need to scout out kids birthday party venues, this one is inside your own home. By using a computer, tablet, iPad, or smartphone you have the venue literally in your hands.
Birthday Party Invitations
Virtual birthday party invitations are a great way to invite everyone without wasting paper, and without cost. Sending an email costs nothing compared to the cost of a stamp, envelope, and card from traditional mailing methods.
You can create a virtual birthday card on Canva.com using their premade templates can make it even easier and more professional looking too. It’s free and there are a ton of options to work with!
Make sure you include:
- Whose party it is
- The date/Time
- A short explanation of how an online birthday party works (it’s a new concept, and might be hard for some to grasp, having a little detail here can really help)
- Mention the platforms you’ll be using as well as any before party steps that they need to take.
- Let them know you’re more than willing to help explain the process too, so that way they can ask questions and be prepared.
Ways to invite people online:
Facebook events. Start a Facebook event and invite people you want to attend this virtual birthday party. This is a great way to grab the close family and friends.
For inviting classmates, send a message to your child’s teacher and ask them to invite the class on your behalf. Make sure you have your contact information on the card to they can RSVP and reach out if interested.
Gifts or no gifts?
Because it’s virtual, you can request no gifts and say that their being present is enough. But if they want to give a gift, they can make a virtual gift card and send it to your email address.
Note some folks may use this as a chance to send e-gift cards as a gift. Long distance birthday party gifts are hard to find, but online gift cards can be great for so many reasons (and with the whole virtual party theme, they don’t seem like a tacky gift idea).
Fun games to play (for gamers)
Now this is where you have to consider the age of the guests and the technology that they might have available. If everyone has an Xbox they could simply join in on Minecraft, Roblox or some other game.
One of our favorite Xbox games for when we have dinner parties over is called JackBox Tv (it’s rated for teens, but there are family controls settings). What’s great about it is that it uses an Xbox, but the games are played using mobile phones. You can play or spectate by joining the virtual room with a 4 digit code.
For the games where you need to see the screen, consider setting a computer up facing the Xbox and live streaming it to your guests. It takes a little ingenuity, but it could be done.
Another great game idea (for non-gamers)
Virtual Bingo. You can have everyone go to a virtual bingo card generator of your choice, like myfreebingocards.com.
If you click the link above, you’ll see it say “generate 30 free bingo cards” click on that and you’ll get a new page to open up with 30 bingo cards and the bingo drawing numbers. (Totally makes this whole party planning easier).
Save the bingo cards individually to your computer and then divide them all out. Send them to your guests via email so that they can print them out.
For those without printers or ink, they can draw it up on a piece of paper and simply use that.
Have everyone use pennies, cut pieces of paper or other reusable markers to cover the board that way they can reuse the boards for more games.
You can offer prizes too!
Part of the fun of playing games with friends is getting prizes for winning, and don’t think that just because you’re not all in the same room that you can’t give a gift to a winner.
While this is of course totally optional, consider e-gift cards in specified amounts. For instance, my daughter’s 7th birthday party will give gift cards in the value of $7. So each prize is a $7 e-gift card to a retailer, that I can email over after the party. It’s easy, it’s cheap, and it’s fun.
Where can you get gift cards in weird denominations?
Some places won’t let you choose specific amounts and will only give you $5 increments for gift cards, but luckily these places let you choose whichever amount you want:
- Baskin Robins
- Michaels Craft Store
How to Play Virtual Bingo
Alright, I’ve already explained the bingo cards and prizes but there are still a few details that need to be explained. The biggest one- how do you all play together?
The answer- Zoom.
Zoom is a free video communications company that tons of people use every year for important video conferences and more. Dare I say it’s even more popular than Skype?
With Zoom offering free 40 minute time limit video chats with 3 or more people, it’s a perfect way to throw a child’s birthday party online!
Just before the party begins, send out room codes to everyone that RSVP’ed, sit back, and wait for them to join in. Then party it up and play.
Keep in mind that this means you’ll need to draw bingo numbers, so you should create those and have them ready and on hand prior to the party, or else it’s going to get awkward.
Sending party favors sounds a little weird, and it’s completely optional. But if you have everyone’s addresses, you can send them a cheap item from Amazon as a party favor.
Amazon Party Favor Ideas for a Kids Birthday Party (all under $10)
Unicorn Girls Necklace
Ultra Clean Washable Markers
Novelty Chap Stick Lip Smacker
Just Go To Bed (a paperback book)
Eat. Sleep. Game. Novelty Mug
Those were just a few samples of the awesome, unique, and creatively fun items you can find on Amazon for under $10 each and ship as a party favor. What’s even better is that Amazon has the little box to click saying “add gift wrapping”
If you don’t have Amazon Prime yet, Sign up for a FREE 30 day trial HERE or if you’re lower income and have an EBT card you can Sign up right here for a Discounted membership.
Wait, what about cake?
The birthday cake is probably one of the most iconic parts of a birthday party. Having a party without a cake sounds crazy and impossible (although it is something that is regularly done in many houses).
If you find yourself with a child wanting a birthday cake to share with his/her long distance friends consider this- mug cakes.
With a super simple coffee mug cake you can have kids (with the help of their parents/adults) make a cake in a cup, in their microwave. It takes a small amount of flour, baking powder, water, and oil. An example recipe- Vanilla Celebration Mug Cake.
When you send out your invites, or when you respond to the “yes” RSVP’s, you can send them the baking instructions for a mug cake so that everyone can enjoy eating “a piece of cake” during their virtual bingo party.
You can also look up small batch recipes for cupcakes that can make 2-4 cupcakes in the oven, and keep those on hand as a response to anyone who says that they don’t own a microwave. Example recipe- Chocolate Cupcakes for Two.
What to do after the party
I have no doubt that you’ve heard of Netflix by now. With Netflixparty.com you can throw a movie on the screen and have a chatroom on the side of the screen. While it’s all text and no face to face chatting, it can still be great for the older kids or teens looking to watch a movie with their friends.
Send thank you’s to everyone that attended. A short video clip of the birthday girl or boy saying thanks would be a great way to personalize it!
If you’re able to get out of the house and claim some birthday freebies, make a nice day of it and cruise around town with the birthday kid.
I hope these tips and suggestions have been helpful in your online birthday planning endeavors and that your party is a huge success!
Please feel free to tell me how your party went or if you have other online game ideas for the birthday kids to enjoy together. I’d love to hear them!
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