20 Tips to Host the Best Zoom Birthday (for your kids and for yourself!)
With Tips from Dawn Lopez | Full-time blogger, and CEO of https://cutefetti.com
The Importance of a Celebrating a Birthday During a Pandemic
Even in this uncertainty of a world we live in right now, it’s still important to celebrate the little things – aka, the reason why everyone has turned to throwing zoom birthday parties. As Dawn said: “we all need to find a way to make everything happen, but also celebrate the little moments because when you blink everything just passes by so quickly.” Once everything starts to return to normal, and the pandemic is another distant memory for all of us who was once living through it – you can reminisce how you had a birthday during what once have felt like the longest pause on life, ever.
As Dawn Lopez stated: “how can we still connect and also provide normalcy for our children? When, you know, things are not the same.” For those who have little ones that may not completely comprehend why they have to be distant from their friends and some family members – it can be a very confusing time for them. Celebrating birthdays and special occasions provides them with some form of normalcy by enabling them to celebrate themselves while offering something entertaining and different from this mundane, repetitive state of the pandemic life we are all in.
Tips and Tricks on how to Host the Best Zoom Birthday
1. Select your digital platform – it doesn’t have to be Zoom!
Skype: Skype was first introduced back in 2003, and is probably the most familiar video conferencing platform. For the free consumer version of Skype, you can have up to 50 participants with a FOUR HOUR time limit for each call (or up to 100 hours of call time each month). You nor your participants need to have a Skype account to start a video call, just hit Create a New Meeting for you to start your free video call. Invite friends and family with a link, or hit Share Invite to share your video link to Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Telegram, Outlook Mail or Gmail.
Zoom: Zoom platform has risen to popularity during the early months of the pandemic when businesses and employees transitioned to work from home. In order for you to use Zoom, you would have to create an account, but it’s FREE and you can have up to 100 participants. The downside is the time limit which is 40-minutes. If your meeting goes over, you’ll get a warning asking if you want to update your plan – otherwise, the meeting with cancel automatically.
Google Meet: Google Meet (which was once called Hangouts Meet) is accessible and free for your desktop with a link created by the host, a downloadable app on your computer, or using the Google Meet app. You can have up to 100 participants in your zoom birthday party for a duration of 24 hours (Until March 31st, 2021, and then the maximum time will be 1 hour).
Houseparty: Houseparty has become a popular mobile application that you can download on your iOS or Google devices. You can even download Houseparty on your Mac or PC with a Google Chrome extension. Whether you download the application on your phone, or on your browser, you have to create a free Houseparty account. One thing that differentiates Houseparty from the previous video conferencing applications is the integrated games that you can play. Here is the list of games that are available to play within the application: Heads Up, Trivia, Quick Draw, and Chips & Guac. You can have up to 8 people in a “chat room,” and you can have people coming in and out of your Houseparty unless you lock your chatroom and accept people individually.
Don’t forget to send out RSVP’s so your friends and family will remember to attend your virtual party, and they can add the official date and time to their calendars! Here are some tips and resources to send out virtual invitations for your guests.
Canva: Canva is available on the Apple App Store, Google Play, and on your web browser, and is one of the easiest ways to customize invitations for your party. If you aren’t the best with graphic design, Canva makes it easy for you to choose from thousands of pre-made templates, and all you have to do is input the information. Canva is FREE to use, but you do have to create an account. Here is an example of a virtual invitation that was made:
With a graphic design application like Canva, after you complete your invitation you can download the graphic and personally send it to your friends and family via email or simply just share the link.
Evite: after you create a FREE account with Evite, you will then have access to create premium invitations with their customizable templates for just about any occasion you can think of. Not only can you customize invitation cards on your computer browser, but you can also download the app to create them on your iPhone or Android. To send them off, you can send them by email or even by text message!
Paperless Post: After creating a FREE account (whether you prefer online, on your iPhone or Android device), you can create free invitation cards and flyers just by checking the free box right beside the search bar. If you wanted to add more to your invitation cards like envelopes, backgrounds, stamps, and logos, you would have to use “coins.” You can acquire free coins and use it towards the website with small tasks when you first sign up (ex. Signing up for a Paperless Post account gives you 25 coins). For more coins to put towards your more customized invitations, you would have to pay for the coins – see Paperless Post pricing here. After you’re content with your invitations, you can make/import your guest list, send it via email with one click, and manage RSVPs. For the free version, you can start by sending it off to 50 recipients.
3. Video Backgrounds
If you don’t feel like spending money and time yet you still want to feel festive, decorate your space with some virtual backdrops! There are already some fun, existing background presets on Zoom, but if you want a backdrop specifically tailored to your online party, you can simply just download any photo from the web, or on your device, and upload it as a background.
- To enable Zoom backgrounds on your Desktop: My Account > Settings > click the tab In Meeting (Advanced) > toggle on Virtual Background
- Use backdrop during a Zoom meeting on Desktop: Click the upwards arrow ^ (located right beside start video) > Click Choose Virtual Background.
*You may be prompted to download the package for virtual background without a green screen – you only have to download it once.
- Use a backdrop during a Zoom meeting on Mobile: Go into the Zoom app > Start a New meeting > Click More > Virtual Background
How to change your background during a Skype call:
- Move the mouse over to Video (small camera icon) or click More (three dots) > Select Choose Background Effect > Choose an image you already uploaded or add a new image to customize your background
Visit link below to access and download birthday backdrops:
4. Take photos of your Zoom Birthday
Of course, you should have some sort of memory to look back on the times you celebrated a birthday during a global pandemic. Typically, you would have your phones or fancy DSLR camera’s to capture birthday moments, but don’t let being behind a screen stop you from doing that! Take screenshots of the people or the screen of everyone who attended your virtual birthday party.
To do that on a Mac Laptop/Desktop: Click Shift+Command+4 simultaneously, and a + sign should appear. With one finger on the trackpad/mouse, drag what you want to capture and it will automatically save onto your desktop.
To do that on (most) Windows Laptop/Desktop: Windows symbol + PrntScrn
You can upload all these photos online, or send them out to your friends and family. For a more tangible, and fun idea, print out all your photos, and put them into the WishSlate’s Memory Book so you’ll have something to look back on during your quarantine birthday.
Don’t let social distancing stop you from being spoiled! Get exactly what you want by adding any item from any store in the WishSlate app (available for iOS devices currently). Encourage your friends and family to download the app and follow your wish list so they can coordinate and purchase the gifts you want right from the app. If you don’t want the element of surprise, you can always do it the old-fashioned way and just let everyone know what you want for your birthday!
6. Make it a Theme
Give yourself and your guests a reason to dress up at home by making your virtual party a themed one! Here are some fun themes to do at your virtual event:
- The Roaring 20’s/The Great Gatsby
- 90’s Retro
- Jungle Party
- Disney Charachters
- Heroes vs. Villains
- Hawaiian Luau
- Pyjama Party
7. Schedule a Movie Night
Netflix Party is a Chrome extension that allows you to watch shows and movies together. You can chat in the textbox beside the screen, and Netflix Party has a synchronized playback.
BONUS: Before your virtual party, drop off microwave popcorn and candy for all your party-goers!
BONUS FOR ADULTS: Sip with a sitcom. Grab your favourite alcohol beverage, and create rules whenever the show/movie does something on your list.
Here are some examples you can use:
- take a sip whenever you hear the audience laugh
- take a drink if there’s a house party scene in the movie
- Drink if the main character tries to kiss their love interest but something/someone interrupts them
- take a sip if Samuel L. Jackson uses a profanity word
- Take a sip if Ross Geller says: “We were on a break”
Of course, depending on what show or movie you all decide to watch, the rules will differ. You can always go online and search: (movie/tv show name) + drinking game. Or if you all decide on a movie/tv show, create the rules altogether.
8. Movie Night
Create a Kahoot game on kahoot.com and add all sorts of questions for a fun trivia night filled with quizzes! From fun facts to educational trivia, and just about anything that might be interesting to keep your guests guessing.
- Create an account or log into your Kahoot before starting your Virtual party.
- Once your meeting has started on your designated platform (Zoom, Skype, Google Teams ect.), share your screen, and head to your Kahoot quiz.
- As participants join your virtual party, they will see the Kahoot screen you’ve shared with a game PIN. Users can join the trivia game by entering the game pin on a second device or through a link that you can share in the chatbox.
Tip: Click on Share Computer Sound if you’re on Zoom, so you get fun background music from Kahoot!
BONUS: make it fun and competitive by having a prize for the 1st place, 2nd place, or 3rd place person and drop it off at their place afterwards! Or during the week – whatever works best with your schedule of course.
BONUS #2: create a short trivia game or incorporate trivia facts in your existing Kahoot about the Birthday celebrant! Whoever wins first place, gets bragging rights about who knows the birthday boy/girl best!
9. Play Pictionary
There are multiple ways for you to set up a fun Pictionary game. You can get everyone to download Houseparty on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store or download the extension here https://houseparty.com/ on your Google Chrome browser. There is an in-app feature of Pictionary on Houseparty, which makes setting up and facilitating the game much easier.
Tip: Click the padlock button on the bottom of the screen to lock your group chat so you won’t have any unwanted guests, and you can accept the people you know!
If you are using Zoom, log into your account > settings > enable whiteboard – make sure all the participants have this enabled. Whenever it’s your turn for Pictionary, click share screen > whiteboard. Give each person a 45-second timer to draw out everything. With this option, participants can either come up with their own drawings or go online to word generators like http://randomwordgenerator.com or http://thegamegal.com for random words if they can’t think of anything on the spot.
Tip: You can either play individually and have everyone guessing each other’s drawings, or divide the group by teams and keep score for a more friendly competition.
Head over to Youtube and search for the title of a song + lyrics if you want to sing along with the actual song, or look up the “karaoke version” so you just have the
instrumental with the lyrics. We suggest the second option, for some real karaoke. Share your screen, and get everyone to sing along or have your own solo in the spotlight!
Tip: To make it more fun and festive, select a karaoke theme and get everyone to dress up in that specific theme. For example: make the karaoke theme pop music, and get everyone dressed up as their favourite popstars!
Here are some other Karaoke themes for your next Karaoke night:
- Hip-hop in the ’90-’00s (Dress up as: Nelly, Aaliyah, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg)
- Country music (Dress up as: Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw – or just put on a nice plaid flannel, cowboy hat, and pull up a guitar)
- Popular groups (Dress up as: TLC, the Jonas Brothers, the Beatles, Fifth Harmony) ● Popstars (Dress up as: Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Rihanna, Brittany Spears)
- Punk Rock (Dress up as: Avril Lavigne, Hayley Williams, Greenday – or just put a lot of black eyeliner under your eye, and cut out the tips of old gloves for a punk rock look!)
11. Host a talent show
This would work best if you got a few people to participate – or everyone! Performances can range from singing, showing a choreograph, playing an instrument, or showcase new art they’ve created. All they have to do is turn on their front cameras and they’re live!
Tip: Create a setlist of who is going to do what, and try not to disclose who is performing or what they are planning to do. Before the day of your virtual party, send out the performance agenda so everyone can keep track of who is going up next. Just like an actual performance show!
12. Scavenger hunt
Create a scavenger hunt list for everyone to find common, interesting, and whacky items in their household. You can either find some online or create your own scavenger hunt list! Here are some fun, interesting ones:
- A photograph of you as a kid
- A picture of the entire family in it
- A cooking strainer
- Uncooked pasta (yes Kraft Dinner also counts)
- A photograph of someone who isn’t in your family
- A phone charger
- A rewards card
- Keys to something other than your car/house
- Candle or air freshener
- A microwave cover
13. Murder mystery
There are a ton of websites that offer hosted virtual parties. Make it more enticing by encouraging your guests to dress-up, and have a prize for the best costume! Here are some free resources if you’re looking to host your own murder mystery for your next zoom birthday:
- Sour Grapes of Wrath – this is a free murder mystery that you can facilitate on your own. There is a 70 page PDF that you can read through and comes with instructions, name tags, accusations cards and clues. You can print everything beforehand, or get one person to share their screen when it comes to finding the “clues” so everyone can have a look and read through
- The Little Engine That Could Kill – another murder mystery that includes a 133-page document of each of the character’s backstories. Keep in mind, this one is a little bit of a read. Save separate PDF’s based on each character and send them to your participants to have a read on their character.
- Jazz Age Jeopardy – you must download this free murder mystery package. You can play with up to 15 players, but if you want to add up to 9 more additional players, it’s going to be $19.99 for the full edition. This downloadable kit comes with instructions, a guide book, voting sheets (which you can print and deliver them to your guests beforehand), and character sheets
Here are a list of some of the paid resources to look into for assistance to facilitate a murder mystery for your virtual birthday:
14. Follow a cooking class
There are so many resources out there for you to follow different cooking or baking recipes. From Tasty videos we see everywhere, to Christina Tosi’s baking IG Live, or easy step-by-step videos from infamous culinary Youtuber Babish, there is a cooking tutorial for everyone’s taste buds and culinary levels.
Select which dish and/or dessert you’re looking to make, and send of the ingredients and recipe list to your participants attending a couple of days before your virtual birthday party, to ensure that everyone has the ingredients and supplies. Select the video you plan on following, and share your screen and pause every now and then to ensure that everyone is following along and on the same page.
Tip: Make one main meal and one dessert.
Tip #2: If you select a dish or dessert that may require some time (ex. Anything that has to be baked into the oven), facilitate a game using any of the virtual game suggestions we have!
15. Play board games
You can play board games with your friends online for free! There are a ton of different sites that host different games that you can choose from. Emily from My Kind of Meeple talks about all things tabletop games, and even reviews the top 6 best sites to play board games, and even talks about each site’s interface.
The link to read the blog: https://mykindofmeeple.com/play-modern-board-games-online/
16. Play (all bad) cards
Very similar to the infamous card game “cards against humanity,” the card game “All Bad Cards” follows the same concept – but it’s free, and you can play online on your web browser. All you have to do is start a new game > invite-only > and copy the link and share it with all your participants. You can add up to 49 participants!
Tip: There is also a family-friendly version of the game if you’re hosting a zoom birthday party for the kids!
You can play the infamous UNO game with your friends! Except, it’s not actually uno, it’s the free, *boot-legged version of uno called DUO. You can add make a private game room with a set password, and add up to 8 players. Copy the link and the game passcode, and send it to anyone who wants to join.
*Make sure you take your ad-blockers off if you have them enabled
18. Never Have I Ever
You can put on a clean version or an explicit version of the game on Youtube. If you’re the host, share your screen, and play the video. Pause the video and read out the never have I ever statement for everyone to hear and/or read for themselves.
For those who can legally drink, don’t forget to have your drink on hand and take a sip/shot for anything that you HAVE done.
This game is always known to be fun at parties, so why not bring it over to a Zoom party as well? This will work if everyone has the Heads-up app. Keep in mind, the original heads-up app can be purchased for $1.39, but you can even download a similar, and free version of it called Charades. Make sure all participants have either app, and divide your attendees in two teams. It can be a little difficult because everyone will be sharing their screens, but for whoever is going to be the person guessing, make sure they either have a blindfold, keep their eyes shut, or put their phone right over their eyes to keep them from reading their word.
20. Among Us
The mobile game Among Us became one of the most popular games in 2020, and it makes sense why. Stemming from the game Mafia, there are 1-2 “Imposters” in the group, getting rid of everybody, while the rest of the group has to finish tasks while figuring out who the imposters are. The game is free and available for Android and Apple users, and it is also accessible on desktop. You can play with up to 10 users, and make it a private game with a generated, unique code only accessible for your virtual birthday attendees. Hop onto a zoom call to get everyone’s reactions, and decide who are the “Imposters” are in real-time.
Other Links & Resources
Top Gifts for him: https://dopcrq3ycj4uc.cloudfront.net/top-4-for-him/
Happy Birthday Mom: https://dopcrq3ycj4uc.cloudfront.net/happy-birthday-to-mom/