Five virtual party ideas for your socially-distanced birthday


Graphic by Addie Wetzel

If you’re a March, April or May baby, then there’s a pretty good chance that the (necessary) social distancing implemented in response to COVID-19 has effectively put an end to your birthday plans. 

Maybe you won’t get the birthday bash with your friends that you had hoped for, but it’s a small and important price to pay to limit the spread of the virus and keep healthcare systems from becoming overwhelmed.

In the meantime, there are still ways to celebrate your big day with your friends, even if the result is something a little weird and unconventional. Thanks to services like Zoom, Skype and Facetime, spending time with the important people in your life is still possible. And in a few years, your Zoom party will certainly become a story to tell.

Here are a few social distancing party ideas for all the spring birthdays out there.

Movie Night

Let’s start this list with a simple one. Hopping on a video call service with your friends and hitting the play button on a movie at the same time from the comfort of your own homes is as easy as it gets. You can spend the night laughing and crying away together at your movie(s) of choice. Choose one movie, or pick a theme to watch: Pixar movies, Star Wars movies, romantic comedies, movies starring Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet (because yes, there is more than one of those).

For an even easier way to watch together, check out the Netflix Party extension offered by Google Chrome that syncs your Netflix movie of choice to play at the same time from everyone’s devices. It even offers a group chat feature that allows you to talk away while the movie rolls.

Bob Ross Painting Party

Bob Ross is the perfect antidote to stressful times. Have your friends grab paper and painting supplies from their homes for this one. 

Everyone jumps on a video service, like Zoom, that allows people to share their screens from their computers. One person can pull up some good, old Bob Ross painting tutorials off of YouTube and share their screen with the rest of the group. From there, paint away! When everyone is done, show off your masterpieces with the group.

If you’re not in the mood to follow a tutorial, then everyone can simply sit back, relax and paint whatever they want while your group hangs out over a video call. 

The Newlywed Game: Friend Edition

There’s nothing like a good “How well do you know your friends?” game to get the party going (and stir up some friendly controversy, too). 

Have everyone grab paper, a whiteboard or something else they can use to write down their answers. Before you all join your video call, everyone from the group can prepare a list of various questions to ask during the game. These can range from questions that would focus on one person (“What is ____’s favorite band?”) to questions for the entire group (“Who is the most likely to become famous?”). 

Ask your questions, and have everyone hold up their written answers to their camera. You can come up with a scoring system for the game and declare a winner (who can receive a generous prize via Venmo) or simply ask the questions for fun! Either way, you’ll probably learn a few things about each other (and yourself) that you didn’t know before.

PowerPoint Party

Yes, I stole the inspiration for this from Tik Tok. Tik Tok is famous for producing annoying trends, but this one is an exception.

This party idea is perfect for those friend groups that love a good debate. The idea is to come up with your argument of choice, and then, create a PowerPoint defending your argument. The range of argument ideas is endless. You could choose anything from attempting to prove a conspiracy theory, to “Why The Last Jedi is a good Star Wars movie,” to “Why Big Time Rush is the best boyband of all time.” The choice is yours. Just be ready to have a solid defense for your position.

Then, using that same screen sharing method, everyone can take turns presenting their PowerPoints to the group and defending their topic. Yes, this party idea seems a little lame on the surface, but if you have the right group of friends, this can be a blast. 

A Good Old Fashioned Roast

At the end of the day, what’s more enjoyable than giving your closest friends permission to formally roast you through a computer screen on your own birthday? 

This one requires no extensive explanation. Give people topics that are off-limits (because that’s only fair), and then, let them go crazy. 

Just know that if you agree to do this, it’s at your own risk. This party idea is only for people with a good sense of humor and a group of friends who know how to tastefully insult each other. 

No, you may not be getting to have the ideal birthday party with your friends this year, but with a little creativity, you can still have a blast together on your big day. At the end of the day, what really matters is that you get to celebrate another year of life. Don’t take that for granted.