These days, social distancing concerns have many parents turning to find alternative ways to do birthdays and coming up with zoom birthday party ideas for kids!
If the idea of a drive-through party isn’t quite your style, or most of your loved ones live far away, a virtual or Zoom birthday party may be the right fit for your family.
The best Zoom parties should have all the features of a “regular” party – cute invitations, fun decorations, a theme, games, prizes, gifts, and of course – the people who matter most to the birthday boy or girl.
Zoom Party Themes
Just like any in-person birthday party, having a fun party theme can spruce things up quite a bit.
Whether you choose to decorate your actual background or have everyone throw up a digital one, a theme will make your party instantly more fun.
Have all guests attend in their favorite Halloween or a dress-up costume! This is a fun theme any time of the year, not just in October.
Chances are, the birthday boy or girl probably has a favorite film. Bonus: decorations for these movies (such as Frozen or Cars) are very easy to find.
You can even watch some or all of the movies together virtually!
Favorite Video Game
Your kids probably got very familiar with their favorite video game during the pandemic. Whether they like Mario Party or Roblox, a gaming theme is one all of their friends are sure to enjoy.
Princes & Princesses
Similar to the costume party, you can ask guests to dress up in their royal best for a virtual ball. Most kids have a robe, cape, wand, or crown lying around somewhere, just waiting for an excuse to wear it.
These days, we all need a superhero. Whether you go with the classic Marvel superheroes or everyday superheroes like first responders and healthcare workers, kids will love getting to dress up as their favorite heroes.
Got an animal lover? Don’t fight it – choose cute puppies and kittens as their party theme.
This theme is made even more adorable when you consider that guests can “bring” their pets along to this virtual party.
For a unique party theme, consider organizing all the details and games around the birthday child’s age.
For example, for Sarah’s 5th birthday party, you could begin at 5:05 pm, play five fun games, give away five door prizes, sing five verses of Happy Birthday, and decorate with the number 5.
Zoom Party Games & Activities
There is an abundance of online activities and games to choose from, many of which your school-age kids may already be familiar with.
You should be able to keep the party going much longer than you might think with a selection of games and activities from the list below:
Remember that feeling in school when the teacher rolled in the TV cart? Today’s kids get just as excited about a live trivia game called Kahoot.
Popular in classrooms and boardrooms worldwide, Kahoot can also be played virtually by linking up with other players via a game code.
You can even customize your own game – “All About The Birthday Child,” for example – or select from premade games on everything from Disney movies to animal trivia.
Kids love scavenger hunts, and virtual rounds of this favorite game are no exception.
The host can call out items like “something blue,” “a hat,” or “a bag of chips” and let the guests rush to find them the fastest.
The winner can be the next host or win a small prize.
BINGO is a great game to play with any size group and with kids of all ages. You can send out printable BINGO cards beforehand and have the kids gather up stickers or other small objects to use as counters before you begin.
Just be sure to include virtual prizes! (Amazon gift card, anyone?)
Truth or Dare
Older kids still get a kick out of this fun party game that is perfect for small or large groups.
Parents can moderate or host the game to ensure all questions and dares stay tame.
Have guests demonstrate their favorite outfits or give kids a challenge to create – such as the best beachwear or silliest outfit.
You could even add a fun virtual runway background or play some inspiring music to go along with it.
Show & Tell
Kids love to show off their special treasures, especially when they’ve got a captive online audience.
Give each guest a few minutes of free time to share all about their favorite toys, show off their room, or cuddle on camera with a furry pet.
Nintendo Switch Games
Chances are, your kids have been hosting their own virtual playdates over the past year by video calling each other while playing one of their favorite games on the Switch.
Carry the concept over to a Zoom birthday party and gather up the kids to play their favorite games en masse.
Popular games today include Animal Crossing, Mario Kart, and Minecraft!
Fun With Filters
Like many video chatting software programs, Zoom allows users to play with fun filters.
Show the kids how to change their virtual backgrounds and try on everything from puppy ears to unicorn horns and let them have a blast laughing at each other.
Minute To Win It
Adults and kids will love the entertaining challenges created with common household objects such as Solo cups and coins.
Watch a Movie
Even the family movie night has gone virtual! You can share your screen within Zoom to live stream a movie to the whole group or use a third-party app or plug-in like Netflix Party.
Older kids and teens will especially love this group brainstorming game that is perfect for parties. Host a quick and easy online game for free here!
From Baby Shark to the popular Go Noodle songs, mom and dad can pick the music for kids to dance and sing to. You’re never too old for a dance party!
For extra fun, try a game of long-distance musical chairs with the host starting and stopping the music and paying attention to who sits back down first.
Find a printable coloring sheet that fits the theme of your child’s party and send it out beforehand or via the chat feature in the Zoom meeting.
Everyone can work on coloring their pictures together and even hold a contest for the best one.
Hire a Zoom Entertainer
Many party entertainment providers are willing to do Zoom birthday parties as well as in-person events. Magic acts, princess tea parties, comedians, and other entertainers all translate well into the virtual realm.
Perfect for small groups of kids, each guest can have the chance to present something they have been working on to the group.
Kids can tell jokes, sing a song, show off a magic trick, or perform their best dance moves. Guests can even vote on their favorites!
Play Card Games
Have a virtual painting party with at-home kits from brands like Painting With A Twist or Paint The Town. Just like the popular in-person events, all guests get to create their own painting by following the teacher’s simple instructions.
Use the whiteboard feature in Zoom to play classic kid’s games like Pictionary, Hangman, and TicTacToe.
Once the host activates it, everyone in the party can take turns drawing on the board with their own color.
Best Virtual Birthday Gifts
You may not feel quite comfortable with the thought of guests shelling out money on a gift for a virtual party that likely costs you next to nothing.
But inevitably, a parent or two will ask what your child might like.
Sometimes party hosts even include wording in the invitation pointing guests in the right direction.
Here are a few great ideas that make virtual gift-giving a piece of cake:
Online game codes (such as for the Nintendo Switch) can be purchased and delivered 100% virtually without waiting for physical games in the mail. This makes them a perfect gift for birthday kids of all ages.
Like video games, most gift cards these days can be delivered virtually. You could even request gift cards to a certain location to pool your child’s money together for a large gift such as a bicycle or Nintendo Switch.
Memberships & Classes
Grandparents and other family members will especially enjoy sending the birthday boy or girl an experience gift such as a pass to the local zoo or membership for Netflix.
Magazine subscriptions or monthly box subscriptions are a great idea as well!
Amazon Prime Books
One great alternative to traditional birthday gifts is to ask guests for books to add to your child’s library. With Amazon Prime, they can arrive in just a day or two.
You can even make a wish list of your child’s most-desired titles before the party.
Zoom Party Tips
Virtual parties are different than in-person parties and have important considerations you might not have thought of. There are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your Zoom birthday party is a great one:
Pay to party
If you host via Zoom, don’t forget to upgrade from the free version so your guests don’t get kicked off after 40 minutes!
The full Zoom version starts at just $14.99 monthly for the Pro plan and can host up to 100 guests for 30 hours.
Keep it small
Keep the guest list small or be prepared to moderate a bunch of screaming kids all trying to talk over one another. Consider muting everyone when it isn’t their turn to talk or present during the games and activities
Try breakout rooms
Consider using breakout rooms if the party is very large. You can group by classmates, boys vs. girls, extended family groups, or purposely mix it up to allow everyone to mingle.
Try different time slots
Another great idea is to host different time slots for your party. For example, grandparents and extended family get on at 3:00, and all your kid’s friends from school log on at 3:30.
This allows everyone a chance to celebrate with the birthday boy or girl.
Consider sending virtual invitations with a website like Evite, which allows guests to easily RSVP, view party information, and even send gifts.
As the host, you can quickly see who is coming and update all the party guests at once.
Be ready to troubleshoot
Although most of the working world has had exposure to Zoom, you will probably still run into the occasional grandparent or child that needs a little bit of extra help signing on or learning how to unmute themselves.
Not to mention, you will need to be prepared for the technical issues that inevitably seem to come up whenever you’re trying to accomplish something important with a group online.
Even though a virtual birthday party may not be what your child had hoped for, you can still ensure their special day is full of everything they expected with a fun and engaging Zoom party.
One thing is for sure – they will never forget the year they had a Zoom virtual birthday!