Hosting a Successful Virtual Party

Virtual Celebration

Hosting a virtual party requires creativity. Like any social gathering, celebrating is the underlying theme.  But unlike a typical gathering, you and your guests will not be in the same physical location.

However, there are many parallels between virtual and in-person gatherings and using them to your advantage will create excitement and connections.

Exactly what bringing a group of people together is supposed to do!

The Theme

There is always a reason to celebrate, but you’ll want to center your party around an occasion or theme.  Family birthday parties or baby showers are events that have special settings or decorations.  They also often involve games or activities that, fortunately, can be played virtually.  

Your party might be a corporate virtual happy hour, watching a televised sport, or a girls’ night in.  Whatever occasion you choose to celebrate, as the host, center your virtual background, the invitations, and the conversation around your chosen theme.

The Location

A virtual party requires a virtual location.  Choose a platform that you feel comfortable with. The leadership role of a host is expected in setting an etiquette-ful tone and laying out the agenda for a good time to be had by all.  With digital parties, duties such as seating and preparing food and drink are off your plate.  

But a virtual host should be able to instruct guests on using the chosen platform and may even need to help troubleshoot any issues that arise.  Therefore, proficiency with the service you choose is very important.

The Invitation

When setting up the date and time to schedule your virtual platform, there are parts of the typical invitation template you can eliminate before sending the invite.

You will definitely want to include the occasion or theme, the time, and suggested food or beverages – “We’ll be making a virtual toast to Tom for his birthday, so be sure and have your beverage of choice ready.”

Other items to include on your invitation are:

  • Indicate that this is not a drop-by event and the party will start on time.  Include an RSVP so that you know who you can count on to show up.   If your group isn’t known for following directions, you may want to place the RSVP as an opening line: “You are invited to an RVSP-only virtual party.”
  • If it’s a themed party, and you are asking guests to decorate their background or dress up, be clear with your expectations.  
  • If you plan to engage guests with invited screen sharing, let them know.  “Choose a picture of what you think best represents our organization and be ready to screen share.”

During Your Virtual Party

  • Orchestrate the introductions.  Be sure to say the name of each guest at least twice.
  • If the group includes people who don’t know each other well, you might enjoy a 5-minute break-out session, where groups of two or three guests learn about one another.  
  • Place a Party Agenda on screen share and walk through it, so that everyone knows what’s going to happen.  
  • Plan a game that involves a prize or wins a title of “Best Ever!”  (Searching online for virtual party activities will offer many ideas.)
  • If you plan to include a picture slide show of previous in-person moments, you may want to invite participants to send you pictures prior to the party. 
  • The key to having a good time is to remember that you are the host and lead each change of activity in a timely manner.

After-party Mingling

What’s often the most fun at in-person social gatherings is the mingling!  And virtual doesn’t offer that possibility.  However, as host, you can allow and build in open time.  Your agenda can indicate scheduled free time at the end of the party so that guests can stay afterward to talk among themselves.  Depending on the virtual platform you use, this may include appointing a volunteer co-host before you depart.

Whether you stay for the open time or not, before you leave the event, make it a point to acknowledge your guests by saying each person’s name and that it was a pleasure that “each of you” could attend.  Thank the group for taking precious time to drop by for the virtual party.

Just because it may be difficult to gather in person doesn’t mean celebrations have to go by the wayside.  A virtual party may be second to live gatherings, but at least they can bring people together to create memories!

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