As we are all too aware of these days, the novel coronavirus has no regard for milestones, holidays or any other occasion that calls for merrymaking…but does that mean we should wave the white flag and allow a birthday to come and go sans celebration? No, friends, it does not. Your kid deserves more than takeout and a movie with the fam on their birthday (even if that does sound like a pretty sweet celebration to you). Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as it sounds to pull off a successful, socially-distanced bash. To make it even easier, we’ve rounded up some virtual birthday party ideas for teens—all of which guarantee a fete so fun, you might even get a quick, awkward thank you in return. (Maybe.)
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News to no one: A well-thought-out theme can really do wonders when it comes to throwing a successful party—and that’s never been more true than it is now, given that the alternative is a stilted video conference flop. Spare your (already socially-awkward) teen the indignity of a disorganized Zoom party by inviting them to pick a theme that squares with the interests they share with friends. The possibilities are endless (neon party! Super heroes! Emojis!) and costumes are encouraged. To make it extra fun, hand out some decor items and favors to participants ahead of time so that every party-goer can enjoy the full experience on the other side of the screen.
2. Host an Online Escape Room Party
There’s been some buzz surrounding escape rooms for a few years now, and we’re happy to report that this brain-boosting diversion lives up to the hype—regardless of whether you play in person or online. Escape rooms serve up a simulated adventure that requires participants to puzzle their way out of a tight spot as a team, and the overall experience is far more exhilarating than any of the board games you’ve got on standby (sorry, ‘Clue’). Best of all, there is no shortage of age-appropriate experiences on offer—check out these options from Puzzle Break for a teen-friendly (and totally virtual) birthday party that promises loads of interactive entertainment for all.
3. Throw a Virtual Pajama Party
There’s a good chance that the teen in your life has been pining for a late-night hang with her pals. (Hint: Sleepover is code for more talk, less sleep.) Deliver the goods by scheduling a pseudo-slumber party for your kid—just be sure to provide the props and set the right tone to ensure the Zoom event lives up to your teenager’s expectations. In other words, send an expertly curated care package (whether that be sheet masks and nail polish or snacks and video games) to every kid on the guest list ahead of time and then make yourself scarce on the night so some unencumbered chit-chat can take place.
A family game night celebration might provoke eye rolls from your teenager, but a similar plan might boast serious birthday party potential if it’s a friends-only affair. Fortunately, there are virtual gameplay opportunities galore—many of which feature invitation-only chat functions so your teen can prioritize socializing, not just keeping score at his party (but let’s be real, a rousing competition can be a rollicking good time on its own). As far as user-friendly platforms go, we’re fans of Jackbox games. This clever service that boasts a library of irreverent online games for simultaneous, remote play—all of which are rated T (for teen-friendly) and can be further monitored with parental controls.
5. Throw a Pizza and Movie Party
Good news: There’s more than one way to serve up some pizza-and-movie night fun for your teen’s big day without compromising COVID-19 safety protocol. For an in-person, socially-distanced shindig, you can always set up a projection screen for outdoor viewing and arrange the seats accordingly (i.e., six feet apart). And if you’re short on backyard space or the weather throws a wrench in your plans, make it a virtual movie night with one of these clever apps that lets users watch movies together—an upgrade that will allow the whole crew to enjoy the teenage flick du jour at the same time while getting their chat on. (Note: The pizza component is completely optional, but it doesn’t take much to coordinate and we have yet to meet a teen that doesn’t love a slice of ’za.)
6. Have a (Murder) Mystery Party
What better way to keep a group of teens on the edge of their seats during a Zoom date than to inject a little—or a lot—of suspense. This concept predates the current pandemic (remember that slumber party from your youth when Nightmare on Elm Street was the feature presentation?) but the modern makeover is a definite improvement. If you’ve got a kid who’s fond of mystery and horror, check out these interactive, virtual options—courtesy of My Mystery Party—for an immersive (murder-optional) experience suitable for large groups of teens.
Arts and crafts of any kind are a reliable way to engage a group, regardless of age. That said, some crafts are better suited for a teen Zoom party than others. (Most kids will take a hard pass on painting with Bob Ross for their birthday). Enter, jewelry making: The hands-on creative activity that promises to get a gaggle of teens talking about style preferences (and all manner of things) whilst working simultaneously to craft their own work of wearable art. Pro tip: Get this party started by sending each invitee a box of beads and supplies in advance.
8. Live Stream a Magic Show
It might sound a little too hokey for the likes of a disenchanted teen, but a good magician can and will make a believer out of you and the birthday kid’s invite list to boot. There is no shortage of awe-inspiring illusionists offering Zoom-based entertainment these days and the virtual platform actually has its benefits—namely because of its inherent intimacy, which makes the interactive performances all the more, er, magical. Bottom line: This thrilling entertainment might just inspire childlike wonder in your too-cool-for-school teenager…and that’s a spectacle you won’t want to miss.
9. Tune Into a Virtual Comedy Show
Comedy can be unpredictable, and certainly not always clean, so parents might want to vet the stand-up before signing on for this form of birthday entertainment (or just stick to family comedy shows to avoid cringeworthy content). That said, a quality comedy show is a great way to bring friends together at a time when tensions are high and physical closeness is not in the cards. Plus, streaming comedy for a group is a cinch—so as long as you’re comfortable with the act you book, you can rest assured that every party-goer will benefit from the much-needed levity on your teen’s special day.
It only enjoyed a brief run, but the NBC show Minute to Win It did give birth to a seemingly endless category of party activities (commonly known by the same name), and for that we are forever grateful. Indeed, there are oodles of squeaky clean 60-second challenges to choose from, all of which boast broad appeal. (Yep, watching friends wrestle with a pair of tweezers and a plate of tic tacs is a treat no matter how old you are.) Plus, as far as virtual birthday activities are concerned, minute to win it games are basically the ultimate icebreaker…and obviously never a bore.
11. Host a TV Series Binge-Watch Birthday Party
The satisfaction of a good binge-watch is hard to beat and, believe it or not, this indulgence can serve as a full-blown social (yep, even celebratory) affair when synchronized viewing is in the mix. Invite your kid’s closest friends to sign on for a TV series marathon (using one of these apps) for an experience that lends itself to more peer interaction than movie night—intermission between every episode—and just as much entertainment. The end result? A party that’ll be right up a languid (read: every) teen’s alley.
The teenage guests of this birthday party will have to work a little to get their kicks, but a rousing round (or several) of virtual trivia is guaranteed to keep everyone on their toes. (No Zoom snoozefest here.) Fast-paced, exciting and smart—this party plan will score major points among parents and teens alike. Get your trivia questions from a book (like this one, $10) or mine the internet for some interesting factoids about your kid’s favorite TV show or celeb. Just keep in mind that you might want to have some real swag ready for shipping—you know, so the contestants compete like they mean it. Still, it doesn’t matter too much who scores highest ‘cause, with a little planning, every participant will walk away with a prize they can sink their teeth into: A scrumptious piece of cake, delivered in honor of your teen’s big day.
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