Art by Alexandra Folino via Delish.com

Staying at home in the time of coronavirus doesn’t have to be boring. For people with birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebrations, it can feel as if coronavirus has upended your party plans. On the contrary, social distancing ushers in the opportunity to celebrate in a new, creative way: virtually. 

Virtual video chats have become the new social economy, with family and friends connecting on chat platforms around the world. Rather than cancel your celebration, put the “social” in “social distancing” by creating your own at-home celebration. We’re sharing the top tips you need to celebrate your special occasion during COVID-19. 

Ways to Celebrate Safely At Home

Make your party virtual 

Art by Alexandra Folino via Delish.com

Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, House Party, Facetime—there is no shortage of options when it comes to choosing your virtual party platform. Your platform of choice can depend on the size of your group and the length of your party. Here’s a breakdown of a few of our favorite apps: 

Zoom:

Zoom is a reliable platform that’s perfect for a quick round of drinks or a happy birthday serenade. The platform is free for up to 40 minutes. 

Skype:

Skype is a free platform and can host up to 50 people at a time. 

FaceTime:

For those who love Apple products, FaceTime can fit up to 36 devices in one chat. 

Houseparty:

For small gatherings of six or less, Houseparty is a free app that allows for group video chats. Bonus: there are even in-app games you can play with your guests!

Set the mood with at-home decorations 

What’s a party without the decor? We’ve all been seeing a lot more of our homes these days. Shake things up and add a refresh to your environment. Get your home ready for a party just as you would if you were expecting guests. Light some candles, create your own confetti using the family paper shredder, and go into your craft closet to create the perfect banner—the options are endless if you use your imagination. Companies like Big Ass Balloons can even deliver balloons to your home. We also love this DIY paper flower project for at-home bouquets! 

Dress for the occasion 

While many of us have retired to daytime pajamas and yoga pants, use your celebration as an opportunity to get dressed up. In a time where nothing seems normal, a wardrobe refresh and chance to get dolled up can brighten everyone’s spirits. Research shows that dressing up can actually boost your mood! Set a theme and challenge your guests to run wild with their wardrobes, or specify the attire in your invitation. 

Utilize your outdoor space to get fresh air

Have a balcony or backyard? Set up some string lights, bust out a bottle of wine, and bring your laptop outdoors with you to get some fresh air during your party. Did you know the level of serotonin in our brains is affected by oxygen? Low serotonin levels are often linked to anxiety and depression, so getting outside can help boost your happiness and emotional wellbeing. 

If you don’t have an outdoor space, venture to a room of your house that’s meant for entertaining like a living room or dining room. Avoid setting up your video chat in the space you use for your at-home office because you’re off the clock! Let your mind relax and enjoy the festivities for a change.

Create DIY appetizers or desserts for your celebration

Photo by Cody Guilfoyle

Practicing social distancing is a great time to learn a new skill. Watch a YouTube tutorial or try that cake recipe you have marked in your cookbook. You can even host your own cake baking competition with your virtual guests while binge-watching “The Great British Bake Off.” It’s time to explore all of the skills you never had the time to before, and that includes cooking!

Order food and wine from your favorite local restaurants who need support

While Houston might be sheltering in place, amazing restaurants throughout the city remain open for curbside pick-up and delivery. Restaurants like Squabble, Le Colonial, Theodore Rex, and more will be taking orders for pick-up. Common Bond’s delicious cakes make a great addition to any birthday celebration. Last but not least, you can’t forget the libations. Get your wine delivered from local Houston retailers like 13 Celsius, Dandelion Cafe, and Houston Wine Merchant. Houston’s restaurants are feeling the impacts of the coronavirus, so one order goes a long way when supporting your favorite local business! 

Get the popcorn ready and make it a movie night

Want to screen a movie with all of your friends? The Netflix Party Google Chrome plug-in allows you to watch a film together as a group and features an interactive chat section. You won’t be able to see your friends’ faces on this platform, but you can read all their live reactions to your favorite party film. If your at-home quarantine buddies include your family or friends, consider screening one of Universal’s on-demand releases like “The Hunt,” “Emma,” or “The Invisible Man.” 

Host a virtual dance party and build a social distancing party playlist

What’s a party without a playlist? Use Spotify to create a unique playlist for your fête, and share the link with all of your guests. Why not make things more interesting with a virtual dance party? Take a page out of DJ D-Nice’s book and learn from his viral Instagram Live dance party that 100,000 people participated in from home! 

Take photos to commemorate your celebration

This may be a birthday, anniversary, baby shower, or engagement party like any other. Don’t miss the opportunity to document your special celebration, even if things look a little different than what you planned. Set up a photo booth to take fun pictures with your quarantine buddies. If you’re hosting a video chat, be sure to commemorate the celebration with a screenshot of the whole gang. 

Missed your celebration? Don’t worry

Send an online gift card to a local small business like a brewery, restaurant, boutique or florist. You’ll be supporting your friend and supporting a small business owner in one fell swoop. 

Another fun way to show your love is with a Cameo request. Find your loved ones’ favorite celebrities on the site, and they’ll record a video message for the special occasion. Nothing says I wish I could have been there than a personalized greeting from their favorite star. 

Don’t let coronavirus put a damper on your entertaining skills. Entertain safely and responsibly with these party hosting tips. If you’re feeling inspired, tag @plannedwith in your virtual parties so we can see how you’re celebrating!