One way to interact with friends from a distance is to have a virtual party using apps like Google Hangout, Zoom, or Skype. My daughter has been using Google Hangout to practice her musical theatre play with the kids in her class. This technology allows people to see and speak to everyone, so it is the next best thing to being in a room together.
If someone isn’t able to connect due to a lack of technology access, then go old school and put them on your speaker phone so they can hear and participate in the conversations.
Virtual party theme ideas
You are probably wondering how do you simulate a kid’s birthday party when guests can’t physically interact? It is important to remember that the main goal of a party is for your child to have fun with their friends. This is still possible but may require some out-of-the-box thinking.
One way to do this is to have a theme that all the partygoers will be excited about. Most games like pin the tail on the donkey are not an option, but there are several ideas for themes that will include everyone and create a festive mood:
Movie theatre-themed party - On the invite, ask the partygoers to dress up in their favorite movie character outfit or T-shirt. Create a movie trivia game or a “would you rather?” game using movie-themed questions. After playing the games, the group can then watch a movie selected ahead of time. Before the party, you will need to figure out which movies everyone owns, have permission to watch, or can stream together.
Cook-off themed party - For the future chef tweens and teens, have a cook-off party! Everyone must find five items in their house and create a dessert or any meal the birthday tw/een selects. Then the parents judge their tw/een’s creation on creativity and taste. Then play trivia cooking games or swap favorite recipes.
Lego-themed party - Have everyone prepare their own bucket of Legos. Play games like who can build the tallest tower in five minutes and then have the parents measure each tower to determine the winner. Other suggestions? Everyone makes whatever they want and then the parents determine who has the most creative structure or everyone makes an animal and then the partygoers must guess what animals the Legos are supposed to be.
After you are done building, go on virtual Legoland rides by searching the ride on YouTube. Before the party, create a list of rides you want to visit to keep things moving along.
Green-themed party - For the birthday kid who is passionate about the environment, have a green-themed party. Everyone comes to the party dressed in their favorite environmental-themed outfit like a flower T-shirt or picture of the Earth or perhaps have everyone dress up as their favorite environmental activist, like David Suzuki, Greta Thunberg, Jane Goodall, or Al Gore, for example.
Play an upcycle game by having each child find five items in the recycle bin and have them create their favorite environmental setting, such as a beach or rain forest.
Create a scavenger hunt where the kids find items outside (practicing social distancing, of course), like a white stone or a wild flower assigning each item points. Each child could take their device with them as they hunt so that they all can see each other and interact during their travels.
Drawing or painting-themed party - Before the party, ask the parents what type of art supplies they own. Most kids have a set of markers, crayons, and paints at home.
One suggestion is for all the kids to draw or paint the same picture. Mo Willems, author of children’s books like Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! and Knuffle Bunny has a drawing channel on YouTube where you can learn how to draw characters from his books, like Piggie and Elephant. Have everyone watch the video at the same time and then share the drawings as a group.
Create homemade cards for people in nursing homes, hospitals, fire stations, grocery stores, postal workers, etc., to let them know you are thinking of them and grateful for all that they do during this time of need.
Virtual Disney World - If your kid is a Disney fan, have them dress up as their favorite Disney character and ask their friends to do the same. Play Disney-related games and then go on virtual Disney rides by searching the ride on YouTube. Before the party, create a list of rides that you want to visit to keep things moving along.
Fun and festive
Try to decorate the room that your child will be streaming the party from with the theme in mind to set the mood for all the partygoers. Plan the games and festivities before the party starts so that it will keep the fun levels high throughout.
By the time the party’s over, your child will hopefully have so much fun that they will forget about the fact they didn’t get to see their friends in person. And the best part for you is that you won’t have to clean up a mess created by a room full of kids!
Cheryl Maguire holds a Master of Counseling Psychology degree. She is married and the mother of twins and a daughter. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, Parents Magazine, AARP, Upworthy, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings, Your Teen Magazine, and many other publications. Find her on Twitter @CherylMaguire05.
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