A lot of life's events have transitioned to being fully digital. Whether it's happy hour with friends or a birthday party, video chats are the tools that are connecting us all right now.
But just as when we had those sweet, sweet IRL hangs, graduation celebrations, baby showers, and holidays like Father's Day are a little more fun when there's a well-prepared host. So we've put together a guide on how to plan and host a virtual event, no matter the occasion.
1. Choose a theme
Let's face it: Themes make everything more fun. You can keep it simple—such as all-white for a bridal shower—or get more creative and create a tropical island scene for a summer soirée. Ask guests to dress accordingly and "bring" an item that represents the theme, whether that's a homemade piña colada or a lei or a virtual beach background.
2. Design a fun invitation
Feeling creative? A great digital invitation builds excitement and makes a virtual event feel more official. It's also the best way to let guests know about your awesome theme—choose a template that corresponds, and have fun with colors, prints, text, and even sound effects.
Include all the need-to-know details, such as timing, video format and link, and anything else guests may need to participate. If your run-of-show includes an activity, list any needed items on the invite.
3. Prep your space
Pick a spot with a clean, bright background with good lighting. Facing a light source is ideal, whether that's a window during the day or a lamp in the evening. If you have a ring light, set it up to provide some warm, flattering, influencer-level illumination.
Depending on the event (and whether or not there's a theme), get creative with your physical space. If it's a baby shower, for example, set up some toys or paper storks. Don't have any good props on hand? Create a virtual background that matches the theme.
4. Wear a stylish outfit
Been looking for an excuse to get dressed up? Here's your chance. Bold color combos or a statement top bring a lively, carefree vibe. And when it comes to prints, bigger motifs usually look better on screens than tiny ones.
Virtual events are also a fun time to get in on the pastel color trend—baby pinks, blues, lilacs, and oranges are flattering on just about everyone, and they add vibrancy to your screen. Bright lip colors really pop on camera; go for red, coral, or bubbly pink.
5. Send a virtual gift
Chances are a present will still be in order. Think about having the guest of honor's favorite food, baked goods, or drink of choice delivered right before the virtual party as a surprise. You can also email a digital gift card during the party so you can catch their full reaction on camera.
6. Plan an easy activity
These gatherings can fall a bit flat if there's no activity planned. After all, it can be hard to catch up and have proper conversations when there's a large group. Karaoke works well for a virtual setting and it often makes everyone laugh (just remember that some people may prefer to sit back and enjoy the show). Try to plan games that people can play without props, such as charades or "Would You Rather?"
7. Prep conversation starters
Let's be real, sometimes video chats can get a little stilted or awkward. If the guests don't all know each other, go around and have everyone introduce themselves and their relation to the host or guest(s) of honor. Ask the group inclusive questions, like what they've been reading, watching, or cooking lately. Particularly in mixed company, lighthearted topics will make everyone feel welcome and comfortable (and might just give you a few new things to do later).
8. Give people an out
Some folks will feel more comfortable attending if they know how long the party's going to last—especially if it's a large group. Without a clear time frame, guests may feel awkward leaving, so put an end time on the invite. If some people choose to stay on the call longer because you've gotten so dang good at this hosting thing, they're welcome to.
9. Think about party favors
People love mementos. Maybe your activity will cover that—digital coloring books, paint-and-sip, or knitting lessons give guests something to walk away with. If you're planning any of these activities, just make sure people have the necessary equipment on hand ahead of time. Sending virtual gift cards to food delivery apps is another nice gesture. Choose a theme like charcuterie and set guests up to order in wine and cheese for the occasion.