Virtually Celebrate in Style - OZY | A Modern Media Company

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While we miss getting together in person, we can still party fabulously in 2020.

Juliana Stock

Juliana Stock

The Gifting Whisperer: Today is a gift — that's why it's called the present. This column helps you make the most of all your gift-giving opportunities.

By Juliana Stock

Staying away from people is probably the toughest thing about the COVID-19 era, and that’s especially true when it comes to marking milestone events. From the crestfallen 2020 graduating class to the thousands of postponed weddings and birthday celebrations, it has been a real party-pooper (pun intended) of a pandemic.

On the positive side, whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, shower or bachelor/ette party, our present circumstances are forcing us to get more creative. Here are 10 different ideas for celebrating in style despite the coronavirus.

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Virtual Watch Party

WHAT IT IS: Host a watch party! Thanks to Netflix Party, you and your guests can simultaneously stream videos. For added good measure, pick a theme that nods to the guest(s) of honor. For example:

  • FOR SHOWERS: About Time, Arthur, Life As We Know It and Failure to Launch.
  • FOR BIRTHDAYS: The Edge of Seventeen, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Home Again, Wine Country and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
  • FOR ANNIVERSARIES: The Notebook, Lost in Translation, The English Patient, Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

WHAT IT WORKS FOR: Birthdays, anniversaries, bachelor/ette parties, baby or bridal showers and graduations.

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Video Collaboration

WHAT IT IS: Collaborate on a video montage. Give all your loved ones a heads up and send them an invite using Tribute (starts at $25). Once you have all your content, put your footage together. 

WHAT IT WORKS FOR: Birthdays, anniversaries, bachelor/ette parties, baby or bridal showers and graduations.

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Cyber Tarot and/or Psychic Reading  

WHAT IT IS: Who knew this could be a thing? Celebrate together with a group of five to ten and your very own psychic. Tarot card readings (like this one) and other options abound (like lip readings … fun for a bridal shower or bachelor/ette … and again, who knew this was a thing?).

WHAT IT WORKS FOR: Birthdays, bridal showers or bachelor/ette parties.

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Take the Party Outdoors

WHAT IT IS: Take advantage of personal outdoor space (e.g., backyards and patios) by doing a “camp out.” Get the tent and flashlights out and (if your outdoor set-up allows it) fire up the grill with some hot dogs and celebratory s’mores. Don’t know where you left the tent? This Kazoo Outdoor Camping Tent ($89.90) holds two to three adults, is waterproof and is easy to put up (based on reviews). Feel like investing in a conversation piece for the backyard? This Glamping Bell Tent (starting at $419) lets you create a mini nirvana. 

WHAT IT WORKS FOR: Birthdays or anniversaries. 

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Living Room Campout

WHAT IT IS: In my house, we call these “carpet picnics.” To take that up a notch, get sleeping bags, cue up the season of that show you never got to and settle in for the night. Essential for this one: great snacks and extra pillows. 

Want to really get into the camping vibe? Scrap video entertainment, grab flashlights, lots of board games and load up on app games like Head’s Up

WHAT IT WORKS FOR: Birthdays, anniversaries and graduations. 

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Play Together to Stay Together

WHAT IT IS: I’ll be honest, my 17-year-old celebrated his quarantined birthday playing Fortnite with his buddies and would have rather done that than anything else (quarantine or no, he would have likely been doing the same thing). This got me looking into what gaming options are available, and there are A LOT. It’s almost like the gaming industry knew we would be homebound and socially distant one day. If you are looking to make your Zoom party more than just a chit-chat, there are services to lend a (virtual) hand.

  • Houseparty (in-app purchasing starting at $0.99) has had some controversy, but if you want to play games like Head’s Up remotely with your pals, this is a good way to do it and it works with iOS, Android and PC/Mac desktops. 
  • If your group is already on gaming platform Steam then they probably don’t need any help in this arena, but Steam Remote Play (varies by game) might be the way to go. 
  • JackBox games (around $29.99, depending on operating system) are considered to provide the best experience in this space, with party packs including drawing and trivia that are easy to learn and fun to play. 
  • Planned an escape game bash that had to be postponed or canceled? Well, you and your group of four need look no further than The Escape Game Unlocked ($17 for the bundle, four players and +12 recommended).   
  • Karaoke more your speed? AirConsole (starting at $1.99) works with your mobile device to hook you up with pals so you can sing your hearts out. 

WHAT IT WORKS FOR: Birthdays, anniversaries, bachelor/ette parties, baby or bridal showers and graduations.

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Ante-Up on Caravan Parades and Group Video Calls. 

WHAT THESE ARE: Caravan parades and Zoom parties are becoming de rigueur given the current state … but you don’t have to stop there, from DIY to getting an expert involved (many at a fraction of the cost of analog).

One option: Celebrate like royalty. If you know a caravan is coming, park your guest of honor on their very own throne. Get a fancy tablecloth and wrap up a chair. To make a crown, find a downloadable template (like these) and simply print, cut it out and then decorate. Want to add a scepter? Try wrapping a cardboard paper towel roll with tin foil. Hole punch the top and string some colorful ribbons through for good measure.

If you don’t feel like doing all that work (or DIY isn’t your thing), you can get both for $15.99 here and a throne cover for a chair here ($81.59).

WHAT IT WORKS FOR: Graduations, birthdays, bachelor/ettes, baby or bridal showers.

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Pick-a-Mix Activity

Make something (age-appropriate) together. 

For the younger set, get crafty with clay or something as simple as markers and paper you already have on hand. Agree on a subject, like puppies or your favorite book characters and everyone can begin. Get adults to send photos of their creations and assemble a digital art collage to share with everyone.

For adults, try a mani/pedi party (you can even pick a color scheme) or create a cocktail (just make sure there is a mocktail version for non-drinkers, like these modified recipes that work with and without the hard stuff).

WHAT IT WORKS FOR: Birthdays, bachelor/ettes, baby or bridal showers.

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Box Up Your Theme

Want to have a theme for your call-in? The Kiki Kit (starting at $75) is an all-in-one box set for cheeky grown-ups to share with their counterpart(s). 

WHAT IT WORKS FOR: Birthdays, bachelor/ettes, baby or bridal showers.

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Mostly for the Kiddos

When my kids were growing up, they were invited to some over-the-top parties that I could never replicate (and honestly, didn’t want to … but that’s for another day). One thing that was always present at these extravaganzas was the “character visit.” I never did this for my kids because a live, in-person visit in my area was so astronomically expensive, but these are much more doable.

  • Ever After Princesses’ virtual character visits might just be the perfect MC for your virtual gathering of up to 10 (starting at $15).
  • If princesses won’t work, Pop-Up Play has a whole selection of parties from 60-90 minutes and up to 10 guests (starting at $165). 
  • Hostessey (starting at $49) is a solution for your virtual gathering and comes with a consultation with your very own “party specialist.” You can also pick from a plethora of characters: superheroes, princesses or your favorite characters from TV shows and movies (they also do more than just shindigs for tots … baby showers, graduations, birthdays and so much more are all for the taking).

WHAT IT WORKS FOR: Graduations, birthdays, bachelor/ettes, baby or bridal showers.

Juliana Stock

Juliana Stock

The Gifting Whisperer: Today is a gift — that's why it's called the present. This column helps you make the most of all your gift-giving opportunities.

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