How to host an online lockdown party

Even when you’re apart, you can have a fun night with friends and family…

28 May 2020


We’ve been in lockdown for a long time, and we’re all missing our best mates and loved ones. We’ll get to see them in person soon, but until then we can use tech to connect with them.

Online lockdown parties are a big thing now, and you might even have attended one. But are you ready to run one yourself? If you fancy being the perfect online host, here are a few tips for holding a legendary lockdown party…

Choose how you’re going to connect

First things first, you need to agree on the video calling app you’ll all be using. Or in other words, choose the party location where you’re all going to meet. You’ve got lots of services to choose from, and Zoom, Messenger Rooms and Houseparty all work really well.

The Zoom video-chat service is great for small and large group chats, with a ‘gallery view’ option that lets everyone see all their fellow guests at once.

Messenger Rooms is Facebook's new group video chat feature. Simply create a video chat room via Facebook or the Messenger app, and you can invite up to 50 people to join a call - even if they don't have a Facebook account.

The Houseparty app is another good option. It’s really easy to use, and it comes with quite a few fun games for everyone to play.

Whichever one you go for, it’s important to remember that some of your guests might not even have used a video chat service before. So, it’s a good idea to send out instructions on how things work along with your invite. If not, then a lot of your evening could be spent shouting at your parents to turn their mic on. We’ve seen it happen.

Choose an activity

If you haven’t got anything planned, your lockdown party can quickly turn into a typical video chat. And that’s not what we’re after. To make the evening memorable, choose an activity for everyone to get involved in. What about a wine and cheese tasting party, where everyone buys the same food and drink and shares their thoughts? Very civilised.

A cocktail masterclass is another good party idea, if you think your mixing skills are up to it. Do a little pre-planning, and make sure everyone has all the correct ingredients and cocktail-making equipment.

Quizzes are another popular choice. If you’re thinking of doing one, short and sweet is the key. Don’t make it last the whole evening. Twenty questions are fine.

Get dressing up

Everyone loves dressing up, so choose a fancy-dress theme for your party and let your guests unleash their creativity. Victorian evening wear, 80s glam, Star Wars characters or an Ab Fab session perhaps… just use your imagination and think about what your guests would most enjoy.

Dress up your room too, just like you would if you were having a real party. Get your guests to do the same, so everyone can feel the party atmosphere.

Set a closing time

Nobody likes being the first to leave a virtual party. It’s almost impossible to sneak away un-noticed when you’re onscreen. And for that reason, even the best online lockdown parties can drag on… and on.

There’s only one way to avoid that. Give your party a closing time, and keep an eye on it. If you’re doing an activity like wine tasting or a quiz, make sure it’s all wrapped up long before the end. Then you can spend some time relaxing with the last drink of the evening. And when it does end, you won’t have to throw out unwanted guests – just leave the app with a quick tap. Online parties definitely have their advantages.