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I’m always talking about the power of video for productivity.

Part of the reason video is so powerful is that it has the magic to connect you with other people. 

So when I realized I needed to make my 40th birthday party virtual, I actually wasn’t sad. It was really fun to put on my producer hat and produce my birthday — and it turned out fantastic. 

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So far 40 is pretty great! I couldn't spend my 40th birthday in Europe as I would have wanted – so I decided to channel my inner @RickStevesEurope and bring all my favorite people together to eat and drink and pretend to be there! Thanks to the amazing wine expert, Dini Rao (@dinivinogram) of LifeinVino.com, who took us on a fabulous wine and food tour of Spain, Italy and France! And to Steve Credo of @SteveCredoMedia for capturing it all on video! You know the producer in me had to get this memento on camera and I'm so glad we did. Looking forward to diving into this new decade and making the best of it no matter where I am! #pandemic #covid19 #coronavirus #birthday #birthdayinquarantine #quarantinebirthday #40thbirthday #winelover #wine #travel #virtualtravel #video #media #producer #producerlife #oncamera #winetasting #foodie #europe #spain @campoviejousa #cava #italy #sardinia @sellaemosca #vermentino #france #Chapoutier #CotesduRhone #rose #cheeseboard #zoombirthdayparty

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My guests said it was the most fun they’d had at a party in a long time! (It’s not lost on me that people have been on lockdown because of Covid-19 but still!) 

And some of them were probably a little hesitant about the idea that a virtual party could actually be meaningful.

If you’re not sold on virtual celebrations, I get it. Zoom fatigue is real, but it’s completely possible to make video calls compelling — both for work and in your personal life. 

Video isn’t going anywhere. Getting comfortable with virtual celebrations will open you up to all sorts of possibilities in terms of connecting with friends and family who you can’t see face-to-face. 

Here are my four tips to produce an unforgettable virtual party. 

Send out invites and get people excited. 

Just because people don’t have to leave their house to come to the party doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute to invite them.

It’s just like a regular party in this respect. Give people a few weeks’ notice so that they can add it to their calendar.

For my birthday party, I designed an invitation that I sent to my guests over email. You could even send invites by snail mail for a fun twist. 

I included information about the theme (more on that later!), dress code, time, and other essential information. Adding details about how to join the virtual event in your invitation will help you ensure everyone is on the same page pre-party. 

I used Paperless Post to create my invitation. They make it easy to personalize your invitation to match your theme. I also made a deck with information using Canva. Speaking of a theme…

Choose a theme — and commit to it. 

I love traveling, so I decided to make the theme a Virtual “Tour of Europe” Wine & Food Tasting! 

I worked with a wonderful sommelier, Dini Rao, to guide us through a wine and food tasting. Dini’s blog Life in Vino is wonderful and she’s been holding wine tastings for over 20 years — even for British royalty and celebs! 

Dini helped me develop a tasting menu and wine list so that my guests could plan ahead. We decided on Spain, France, and Italy and then picked wines and snacks to go along with those locations.

This is part of why it’s important to give your guests plenty of notice before the party. They’ll need time to gather ingredients!

Obviously, no one has to get every single snack or buy all three wines, but it’s nice to offer the option for a shared experience. Having the same foods and drinks helps people feel like they’re at the same party. 

Prep like it’s an in-person party.

Get out of those PJs! Putting on a nice outfit and doing your hair and makeup is a way to shift your brain into party mode.

You should also clean up the space you’re using to join the call. Not just because you don’t want people to see your mess, but because a neat environment will help you relax. And you probably wouldn’t want to have your stuff everywhere if people were physically coming into your home. 

This is a great opportunity to use virtual backgrounds. I’m against virtual backgrounds for work calls (you can read all about that here) but I love using them for parties and happy hours. 

Especially if they relate to your theme. For example, I used a vineyard background. It adds to the fun!

Make a memento from it. 

At some celebrations, you might have a professional photographer snapping pictures. That doesn’t have to change just because the party is virtual! 

I asked Steve Credo, my friend and former colleague at Fox News Channel, to create this video of the event. It was so nice to be able to send this out to people to commemorate the party.

Having that visual record of the party will be so fun to look back on.

Virtual celebrations will always be a little different from face-to-face parties. But if you put some thought into them, they can be just as joyful.

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