posted on May 27 2020
With today’s social distancing measures, everything has gone virtual - including parties to celebrate life’s special moments—especially birthdays. But hosting a virtual birthday party is very different from hosting an in-person party . . . especially when the birthday star is only four years old!
As a theater company now specializing in virtual entertainment for children, we’ve hosted several successful birthday parties, and in that process, learned a lot about what makes for a truly special, engaging celebration!
At an in-person party, children can occupy themselves by playing together. But in a virtual setting, it’s on you, the host, to guide the guests through the party activities, and entertain from the minute the guests arrive to when they leave. At mainstages, we plan our parties down to the minute, and even include back-up activities in case a particular game doesn’t seem to be going over well or we feel the need to change up the energy.
All children go through phases. One month they’re crazy about dinosaurs, the next they’re really into excavators. Find out what the birthday star is currently crazy about, and use that to inspire an overarching theme that ties together all your activities. If you book a custom party with mainstages, we theme the entire party around a topic of your choosing, from Sesame Street to Stranger Things.
Young children have a short attention span, so plan to spend no more than 5-8 minutes on each activity or game that you play. We like to take it one step further and include two hosts so we can switch up the focus and keep the kids engaged. If you’re hosting alone, you should definitely consider grabbing someone else to co-host with you!
Fun, upbeat music always helps to set the vibe. Make sure you have music playing as the guests arrive, and consider including a welcome song or a round of freeze dance in your party plan. If you play guitar, bust it out. If not, pre-recorded music works too. At mainstages, we use a combination of both!
Children are fascinated by crazy funny characters, so why not bring a few along to entertain them? A puppet is a great idea, if you have one! Alternately, you or your co-host could raid your closet, put together a funny costume, and make a guest cameo as a character of your choosing!
Consider taking the party guests on an imaginary trip! Children love the drama and adventure of going on a pretend magical adventure. Determine your destination based on your party theme—and don’t forget to decide on a magical mode of transportation to get them there! At mainstages, we use everything from the imagination-mobile to special dance routines.
Include activities where each kid gets to share something with everyone else. Every child loves to have their moment in the spotlight, whether that happens in-person or using virtual spotlighting over zoom. At mainstages, we include at least one sharing segment in our plan to make sure that each child feels special and recognized.
Whether you’re planning a virtual birthday celebration for your own preschooler or someone else’s, you have the ability to host a fabulous virtual celebration! But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of time and energy needed to create this special experience, we are happy to do it for you!
Learn More about Virtual Birthdays
posted on May 27 2020
Taylor Ann is a NYC-based theater artist and children's theater director. After graduating from Hope College with a BFA in theater and creative writing, she toured with Missoula Children's Theatre for a year before moving to New York City. Taylor Ann was the Supervisor for mainstages Theater Camp Long Island in it's inaugural summer in 2018.