Hosting a party by Gather town is very different from doing it in person. But it’s still lots of fun. With virtual gatherings, you get to invite more people to celebrate your birthday, and there’s no clean up afterward.
I decided to host my 23rd birthday party three days before the event. It was planned in a rush, but it turned out to be super fun. I spent one night setting up the venue, inviting 50+ friends, making guidelines in the morning and testing in the afternoon. And voilà! The party started at night.
We had a bartender live streamed how to DIY cocktails, a dancer guided everyone how to pass over a birthday gift over camera together, and wrapped up with an interactive game. You may follow the simple guidelines to prepare one Gather town party for your friends and family during lockdown, hopefully to leave some memories for a lifetime.
1. Give people plenty of advance instruction
You may not need to do this if all your friends are already very familiar with Gather town, but most of ours were not. So before the party, along with the email invitations, I created a tutorial that provided some tips and briefly covered the agenda, and venue design. I’ve also gathered everyone in a group chat to update the latest information and send friendly reminders.
Before the party started, I also planned a section that guided everyone to familiarize Gather town, such as how to locate where you are in the map, how to find the person instantly, how to broadcast, and how to decorate the place.
In the end, the garden was renovated by the guests lol
2. Plan for about 1 to 1.5 hours, but leave extra time to test and for after-party
Sitting in front of a screen doing video chat can get tiresome after a while. Thus, the event planned for about 1 to 1.5 hours would be just right for the guests. The best timing for the event would be around 8 p.m. as everyone can finish their dinner and have time to get a drink.
You may also invite friends to sign on early so could help out troubleshoot any issues. As the venue will last after the party ends, if guests come right at the end of the party, you may let them know they can stick around for a bit and enjoy the after-party.
3. Save the self-introduction to the last
You may want to make the party fun by having all your friends meet with each other. But the truth is there are so many people, and introducing one by one will take up plenty of time, squeezing your time to play games.
Originally I planned a lot of games, but 30 people’s self-introductions took up nearly an hour to finish, which led to a lot of games being cancelled. I realized the best way to have everyone enjoy the party is by hosting games that most people can join, or take turns to join.
After the game, everyone will get to be more familiar with each other. By then, it will have a smoother and less awkward self-introduction period. So it is highly recommended to plan the introduction section after the games.
4. Plan games that people can play together
That draws to the next question, what games can most people take part in? Games such as birthday gift pass over, or find items the host speaks are all suitable for a large number of guests.
For the birthday gift pass over game, as it requires everyone sees the same order of screens, you will need to leverage Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or any other kind of video software other than Gather town. Then livestream the screen on Gather town. This way, participants will see the same order, and will know in which direction to pass the gift. For people who can’t join, they may also watch the live performance in Gather town.
For the find items game, be prepared for a list of items you wish people to find at their home, such as anything purple, charging cable, or body wash. You will also need to divide guests into two groups, and make sure every team has their own unique background. With every team putting their effort into winning the game, a lot of fun and unexpected things will happen. This game is praised as the best game among all the guests in the party, so I highly recommend you to plan one as well.
Another background changing game, also very fun to play!
5. Make it festive
To make the event feel more like a party, other than dressing in party clothes, you may plan some rituals to make the guest feel they are in a party. For example, we had a friend that assisted with cocktail DIY livestream, so before the event, I’ve kindly reminded every guest to prepare ingredients needed for the drinks. A lot of them sent messages telling me they were out to buy drinks and were excited for the party to get started. With some rituals, it will make the party more fun.
6. Leave time for new friends to chat
Finally, as friends are getting close with each other, now it’s time to introduce everyone.
Be prepared to lead the conversation as you are the only one everybody knows. A great way to start is by briefly introducing when and how your friendship starts, then hand over the time to let the friend continue. Thanks to my best friends, now everyone knows what stupid things I did in the past. lol
Another easy icebreaker these days is to ask participants how they’re coping with the ways the pandemic has upended our daily lives.
Finally, the party ended at 10:30 p.m. with participants getting tired because of running ups and downs. xD Although the party didn’t go as planned, it was much more fun than I thought it would be. A friend also mentioned that it was the most crowded Gather town she’s ever attended. It was truly a memorable night that I will not forget. Thank you all for coming, and I couldn’t wait till our next virtual get-together.