iny moments of joy, like blowing out birthday candles with family and friends may be critical to holding on to any sense of normalcy right now.
¶ “Social connections are absolutely crucial,” says Marley Majcher, CEO of the Party Goddess, a luxury event planning company in Los Angeles. “That is why now we’re hearing more and more about virtual parties.” ¶ She notes that even virtual events still need a plan. Here’s advice from Majcher and other party planners in Los Angeles for throwing a birthday party amid quarantine for every age group.
Make it simple
> “The key to all of this is not forgetting that communication is simply the most important,” says Kristin Banta, founder of Kristin Banta Events in Los Angeles. Communication begins with choosing and sharing a platform. Google Hangouts and FaceTime are free, while Zoom offer the basics at no cost.
(Times owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is an investor in Zoom.)
Then send invites along with detiled instructions on how to join.
“Send the instructions like you are sending them to a 5-year-old,” Majcher says.
Deliver the party
> If this amount of planning is too much to bear, call in the big guns.
“We decided to make this a more flawless, seamless, standardized experience where we all feel like we’re going to the same party,” Jared Reichert, founder of the Reichert Consult, says about his new venture, KikiKit, a virtual party planning service.
“We take everything from the digital invitation and create a customized invite through Paperless Post, assigning a Zoom ID,” Reichert explains. “Guests have an idea of what they’re getting into because a KikiKit will be delivered the morning of the party,” with such items as glassware, drink kits, table decor and floral arrangements.
Think age appropriately
> Each age has its own wants and needs out of a digital birthday party, starting from the youngest set, who may miss birthday parties the most.
Kids under 13
> Children deserve an epic day no matter what’s happening in the world. The key is to keep it tight.
> Quick virtual party: Invite kids and parents for a Zoom catch-up. “Keep kids parties shorter,” Majcher says, as brief as 30 minutes.
> Rent a character: Hire a prince or princess to MC via companies like Ever After Princess.
> Get crafty: Reichert suggests sending out a task with the invite, such as a Lego building set or Play-Doh.
In real life
> Scavenger hunt: Create a scavenger hunt or mystery map leading to a present.
> Ball pit: All you need is a baby pool and a few bags of balls ordered from a place like Target to create some at-home magic for the birthday VIP.
> Neighborhood “safari”: Ask the neighbors to place various stuffed animals on their porches or lawns so you and your child can walk and spot the animals, checking them off a premade list.
> Leave the teens alone during their virtual hangouts. However Majcher suggests sending virtual invitations with a set start and end time.
> Stream a movie: Apps like Netflix Party allow friends to watch together and chat. (Sorry, no holding hands in the back row.)
> Make something: Bring back a sleepover classic: the friendship bracelet. Prior to a virtual hangout, send your teen’s friends a kit to make friendship bracelets (available on Etsy).
> Get dancing: Record the final attempt and upload it to TikTok.
In real life
> King or queen for the day: Every teen deserves to feel like the boss, even if only for 24 hours. Make them the queen or king of the castle for one day and do everything they say.
> Family game night: Allow the teen to pick the game (and maybe take a head start).
> Campout: Though national parks are closed, the backyard is open. Create a glamping masterpiece by setting up a tent, bringing out blankets and covering everything in twinkling lights.
> For the grown folks, it comes down to: Cocktail time. Plan for after the kids go to bed, bust out the top-shelf goodies and log on with friends. Majcher suggests asking guests to invite a plus-one to “grow your circle of friends in the real world.”
> Learn a cocktail: Rather than have everyone pour their own drink, pick one to make together. Learn something new, like an old-fashioned or a yuzu spritzer.
> Dance: Take a Ryan Heffington dance class. The famed choreographer is hosting near-daily dance parties on his Instagram account, showing how to perform his signature moves.
> Theme party: Think Tiger Kings and Queens, Pajama Jam or Prom Night and log on in your finest duds.
In real life
> Spa day: Order bath salts, scented candles, beauty masks and magazines. Have lemon water on hand.
> Baking challenge: Bake a confection like a fried blood orange cake or a classic chocolate cake worthy of candles.
> Join TikTok: Yes, TikTok was in the teen category, but 30-somethings are the true stars. Learn a dance with your partner, roommate or family and share it.
> If there’s one group that needs to feel the love right now, it’s those over 50. Celebrate by gathering online or delivering them a bit of joy at home.
> Virtual scrapbook: Ask everyone to email a favorite photo along with a brief memory, then upload it to free services like Canva for a virtual keepsake.
> Surprise reunion: Host a virtual “This Is Your Life.” Bring on surprise guests as the night goes on and ask them to share their favorite moments of the person celebrating.
> Wisdom hour with grandchildren: Host a virtual event where the person celebrating can impart their pearls of wisdom with abandon.
In real life
> Favorite things: Order the celebrator’s favorite restaurant meals, wines and desserts for delivery.
> Drive-by caravan: Drive a caravan of cars decorated with streamers and balloons, playing the same song, past the celebrator’s house.
> Declutter with joy: Since we’re spending time at home, we might as well declutter, right? Give the Marie Kondo method a go. Have the birthday VIP speak about the object, where it came from and why it sparks joy. Then get rid of the rest.