Virtual birthday parties are a fun way to let your kid celebrate with their favorite people, even from a distance. If your child has a birthday coming up, we’ve pulled together some clever ideas for a virtual birthday party they’re sure to remember, plus some tips to help it go smoothly.

For any of these, you just need an online platform where you can host the virtual birthday party. Popular options include Zoom, Google Hangouts and Facebook.

Party in a Box – Pick a fun activity that guests can do “together” during the party, and deliver the materials to each child in advance. Think about a favorite hobby or activity of the birthday boy and girl, and let that guide you. Keep it simple and age appropriate! It could be cookie or cupcake decorating, or a simple craft like painting a mug or decorating a wooden frame. You could even take a screen shot of the guests during the party and send it out for them to put in their completed frames.

Theme Party – From a pirate party to afternoon tea, there are tons of options for this one! Choose a theme that fits the interests of your birthday kid, just like you would for a traditional birthday party. Decorate the space where you’ll be having your virtual birthday party and invite guests to do the same. You could even deliver goody bags with props that fit the theme. Think leis for a luau or hooks and eye patches for that pirate bash.

Character Chat – Many party companies are offering virtual visits from favorite characters. If you have a birthday kid who’s princess-crazy or superhero-obsessed, consider having Elsa, Captain America or Superman join the celebration.

 Scavenger Hunt – For a fun activity with minimal preparation, create a scavenger hunt for all the guests to do at their own homes. If you’re doing it indoors, have the kids look for funny items around the house (a silly hat, an umbrella). For an outdoor hunt, make a list of things that are easily found in nature – aka the backyard – like a leaf, a worm and a long stick.

 No matter what kind of celebration you have in mind for your kiddo, here are some tips to make a virtual birthday run smoothly:

  Keep the party short. Limit it to 30-45 minutes and allow time for technical difficulties.

  Give the party some structure with a beginning, middle and end.

  Let everyone speak in the beginning and say goodbye at the end.

  Keep the group small and try to limit it to kids who all know each other.

Birthday parties may not look the same these days, but virtual birthday parties are just another creative way that pandemic parents have found to make even a Plan B or Plan C special and fun. Happy planning!