How to host a virtual event (and why you should)

While there’s nothing like gathering to celebrate life’s moments, there are times when it just isn’t possible. If you’re far from family and friends or looking for new ways to connect during the Covid-19 outbreak, virtual events are increasingly becoming the answer. 

Why host virtually

We’ve been inspired by how hosts are experimenting with virtual events as they stay social during an increasingly isolating time. They’re finding ingenious ways to add meaning to previously planned celebrations like birthday parties and baby showers as well as carving out time for game nights and dinner parties.

The silver lining? Virtual events allow us to focus less on the color palette or the place settings and emphasize celebrating in thoughtful new ways. So don’t cancel that 30th birthday party or bridal showerreimagine it as a virtual gathering and stay in, while staying connected. Read ahead for our tips on how to host a virtual event.

 

Where to host a virtual event

First, you’ll need a place to meet up virtually, but it’s not as complicated as it may seem. If you send a Flyer invite you can make the location of the event virtual and include the video link—just select “virtual location” under your Event Details. There are many companies offering free options or trials right now to suit your event, such as:

 

Zoom

Download the app and create a free account to invite up to 100 people for 40 minutes of hang out time, or take advantage of unlimited time with chats under five people. Add your Zoom link to any Flyer invite so guests have everything they need to meet up.

Pro Tip: Whether you’re running low on sleep or just want to look your best on camera, use the “Touch Up My Appearance” filter that displays your video with a soft focus.

Google Hangouts

Use your Google account to hang out with up to twenty-five guests. You can video chat on desktop, or using the app (available for iPhone and Android).

 

Group FaceTime

For smaller get-togethers, set up a date to chat with FaceTime on your iPhone. Find it in the messages or FaceTime app.

Pro Tip: If you have an iPhone X or later, or an iPad Pro 11-inch or iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation), you can use Animoji and Memoji in your group call. On devices without Face ID, you can use other camera effects, like filters, text, and shapes.

 

Netflix Party

If you want to Netflix and chill as a group, Netflix party is a Chrome extension that allows you to sync your movie or show with your friends. Plus, it includes a group chat feature to share your commentary without interrupting the movie. Get everyone excited with a movie-themed Flyer invite to save the date and time you’ll hop on together.

Pro Tip: Netflix Party only requires one person to install the extension, so set-up is simple. This makes it a great choice for getting together with grandparents or older relatives who aren’t as tech-savvy.

 

Consider the number of guests

Unlike an in-person get-together, it’s hard for multiple conversations to be going on at one time. A group of six tends to be great for intimate conversation. Larger groups are better when you want a chaotic-in-the-best-way hangout. If some guests don’t know each other, make sure to introduce everyone when they log in to the chat.

Give your event a name and a rule

In our interview of Priya Parker, the author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters, she suggests giving your event a name and a rule, and this advice applies to setting the tone for a virtual event too. It doesn’t need to be complicated — like this example Priya shared with us:

“Writer Jancee Dunn asked me for advice on how to ‘Art of Gather-ify her dinner party. She decided to host a dinner party for other worn-out moms and gave it a name: ‘The Worn-out Moms Hootenanny,’ and she gave it a rule: if you talk about your kids, you have to take a shot. She emailed six friends, and they all RSVP’d within the hour. They ordered take-out and made what could have been stressful or boring and turned it into an exciting opportunity to connect.”

Get guests excited with a virtual event invitation

Sure, you could text or Slack people a link, but an invite lets you set the scene and nail the logistics.  First, set a start and end time for guests to save to their calendars. Then, make your invitation location virtual in your Paperless Post invite so they’ll have the link to the video feed handy. Most importantly, the invitation builds excitement at a time when we need social gatherings to look forward to more than ever.  

 

Ready to kick off your own virtual event? Browse our selection of virtual event invitations for any kind of get-together. Looking for inspiration? Check out our guide to virtual event ideas