What’s that, an invitation for a virtual party? Whether this is your first time around or you’ve been to a few already, you probably know the virtual party is a special breed of event. Your hosts have still meticulously planned, and they’ve identified you as one of their favorite people with whom they want to share this special moment. If they’ve opted for a virtual shindig for logistical reasons or simply to keep guests safe, they will still have expectations that their party will be amazing. As their guest, you can help them achieve it.
Your next virtual event may not call for your favorite special occasion dress or feature a cocktail hour, bouquet toss, or guestbook, but that doesn’t mean etiquette flies out the window. Here’s how to prepare to be an excellent party guest for your next virtual wedding, shower, birthday party, or reunion.
You’ve received and replied to the invitation, and your next virtual event is on the calendar. Now what? Read up on everything the host has provided you to prepare you for the big day. Is there information on the invitation or event website, such as a schedule of events, a registry, or a guestbook? Make sure to treat this like the in-person events you go to and transfer your hotel-booking and car-renting skills to computer charging and “how I know the host” storytelling. Don’t let the day’s events sneak up on you and catch you unaware. If you’re expected to give parental advice to an expectant mom or to toast your friend ringing in a new decade, prepare in advance!
Even though you aren’t gathering in person, you should still plan to spend a little money on a gift. Unless the host has requested otherwise, etiquette calls for you to spend the same as if you were celebrating together in person, whether it’s a baby shower, wedding, or birthday. Because the event is virtual, you can get a little creative and send a digital gift card instead of dropping a card in the mail. Don’t show up “empty-handed” and plan ahead, even if that means sending a set of onesies, monogrammed bath towels, or a bottle of champagne to their house a week in advance.
Your next virtual party may or may not indicate a dress code, and that can leave guests confused on how to dress. Because it’s a party, you should dress nicely, even if it’s just from the waist up. Birthday parties call for bright and cheery outfits, like a women’s blouse with a ruffled collar or puff sleeves. For wedding or baby showers, opt for a top fit for high tea, such as a cashmere cardigan or floral button-down shirt. For engagements or weddings, dress to the nines, with a silk cami and sparkly statement earrings. To stay comfortable during a long afternoon or evening in front of your computer, snuggle into your favorite slippers.
Virtual events pose special logistical challenges for hosts and guests alike. Help to ease your host’s technical pain points (trust us, it’ll happen!) by setting an example with impeccable video etiquette. No matter the video platform they’ve chosen, you can expect to follow a few simple rules:
Typically, you pull the host aside to thank them for having you when you leave a party. For virtual parties, however, goodbyes can be chaotic with everyone signing off at a predetermined time. If you don’t get a chance to personally thank your host, follow up by email with a thoughtful thank you. You can even put in a little extra effort and send them a digital greeting card.
Now that you’re ready for your next big virtual event, you can focus on having fun and helping your host celebrate their big day. When you can’t be together to give each other hugs or boogie on the dance floor, you’ve got the next best thing. Pump yourself up with some pre-party music, throw on your party outfit, and get ready for all they’ve got planned, from virtual trivia to digital dance parties.