Don't let the party stop. Switch it to Zoom

Updated: Jun 07, 2020, 07:56 IST | Gitanjali Chandrasekharan | Mumbai

We got a fab host, resto bar owner and party planner to share hacks on having a rollicking time without leaving the room

Why don't you throw a Zoom party for your birthday?" "Nah, that'll be too awkward, getting people together, many of whom don't even know each other."

In a world where stepping out for grocery shopping is the maximum fun you'll have for a while, and a restaurant table is likely to allow no more than four people and worse, your neighbours will throw a fit, if you have a party (even if it's in the middle of the day), how do you gather a few friends for bit of a down time?

You throw an online party. We got people who have attended and organised hit virtual parties and are revered for their offline entertainment, to show you the ropes for 2020.

Switch it to Zoom

The guest-list
This could really make or break the party. Online or off it. Pune-based independent writer Suprita Mitter, shares an experience of one person's birthday party that had, literally, two endings.

Mitter, 35, chooses to reference a friend's 30th birthday celebrations. "To bring the birthday in, she asked a mixed bunch of people to come online. This was us, former colleagues, cousins and some close pals we'd heard of, but never met." Mitter says that while she brought sliced cake to her table, and lit a candle, with her husband even playing the guitar and them singing the birthday song, once midnight had struck and the wishes were over, things got a bit awkward even though introductions were made. The next day, says Mitter, the ex-colleagues got into a call with the birthday girl and this was a much better experience. "There were games. We played Scribbl, an online version of Pictionary, and took turns to draw. And, even though Scribbl has its own chat window, to be able to see everyone on Zoom as they were about to guess was fun," Mitter adds.

The entertainment
While an offline house party can take its own course when you put people together, and fill them with enough alcohol and food, an online one is going to be a bit demanding. As Mitter says, games help keep the attention going. Scribbl had the friends occupied for half-an-hour.

Meghna Chitalia, founder of Party Planet Events Pvt Ltd, suggests outlining a dress code for the party and making newspaper streamers to decorate the home
Meghna Chitalia, founder of Party Planet Events Pvt Ltd, suggests outlining a dress code for the party and making newspaper streamers to decorate the home

But, there could be party games that you craft specially for the day. Some time in April, Bonobo, one of the city's best nightlife spots started organising weekly Zoom parties on Friday nights. How these operate are lessons for any online party planner. Partner at Bonobo, Nevil Timbadia says, "When you go to a bar or a restaurant, you may not know everyone. Some will be acquaintances you say hi to and move on while spending the rest of the time with friends. We wanted to create a similar experience here."

So, they create challenges that run through the night, such as "floor is lava" or "show your dance moves". "And we then highlight different people on the screen and keep them on screen for 10-15 seconds. Any longer and people get conscious."

The other entertainment that the Bonobo parties get right is the music. They ask guests to download the Twitch app on their phone, so that they can listen to the music played by the DJ, a great way to get everyone hooked to the same tunes.

 Suprita Mitter, Nevil Timbadia and Meghna Chitalia
Suprita Mitter, Nevil Timbadia and Meghna Chitalia

The timing
While a party of a few close friends could see fatigue set in after 30-45 minutes, if you do plan to keep it up for longer, why not have an open log-in policy as Bonobo? Timbadia says people log in and out as they please. With a maximum attendees of 70, he says the largest-at-a-time presence has been 45.

Party for the kids
What's a party without a bit of décor and dressing up? You can mention a dresscode on the invite, making this a bit more of a party-like affair, and also do up the house a bit, especially if it's for a kid, suggests Meghna Chitalia, founder and director, Party Planet Events Pvt Ltd. Chitalia says, "Decorate the room with either hand-made paper buntings or balloons or even Christmas or Diwali lights. And, if you have nothing, just make some buntings from old newspapers."

And, if it's a party for kids, how can you forget the return gift?

Chitalia suggests making a piñata from where your child can pick their friend's name and keeping another basket at hand from where they can pick a gift. For instance, glitter pencils, or a pencil box. And these can be delivered later.

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