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Host a Buzz-worthy Virtual Watch Party

By Sara Quenzer on February 9th, 2021
Virtual Movie Night Media Card

When a friend or group of friends is excited about a new movie, TV show premiere or sporting event, that’s a perfect excuse to celebrate together. And when an in-person watch party isn’t an option, a virtual watch party is a great way to close the distance. It works with every genre and there are tons of extra ways to make yours feel award-worthy.

Virtual Movie Night Media Card
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Why have a watch party?

Just pick a reason:

  • Birthday: The human who was birthed gets to pick the feature. This is the way.
  • Holiday: Celebrate the season with a themed movie or show. Maybe it’s Christmas. May we suggest the Hallmark Channel?
  • Marathon craving: Maybe a new series dropped on a streaming service, or you want to re-immerse yourself in a whole different world.
  • Event celebration: Sports, awards, competition shows—choose your favorite.
  • Because why not: What else are you doing?
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Go virtually wild

Virtual watch party 1

When you’re feeling a little cooped up, creating some buzz around your virtual watch party turns it into a real celebration. (And lets you watch comfortably at home in the stretchy pants to which you’ve become accustomed.)

Here are a few tips to turn your watch party into an Event:

  • Hype, hype, hype: To help build excitement the same way a trailer does, create a themed playlist or throw together a video with clips and bits of trivia and share away. If you don’t feel savvy (or motivated) enough to make your own video, you can just make a playlist of videos on YouTube.
  • Encourage dressing up: It’s a nice change of pace to get out of the lounge-wear you’ve been sporting for three days straight. And you only have to be fancy on the top half.
  • Make and mail invitations: To make the premiere feel extra special, add the link to your watch party to real invites with your handwriting and a cool stamp. Sure, you could do it online, but why not break out a sparkly, bright or glittery.
Pro tips
If you love a DIY project, here are some ways to personalize your invitation, whether you send it online or print and mail it.
  • Borrow images, color schemes, textures and design elements from the show you’re watching.
  • Work in favorite lines and juicy puns to spice up the traditional invite format.
  • Use some photo-editing skills to put your guests’ faces into the movie poster or show promo.
  • Give the act of opening the invite some fanfare with a fancy seal or confetti.
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BYO concessions

What’s a watch party without movie snacks? Candy you might sneak into the theater, treats that fit the theme of the show and the most classic of movie snacks, popcorn, are all necessities.

  • Recipes: Recommend your favorite microwave brand of popcorn or share with some of these delicious popcorn recipes. Get fancy with this decadent brownie, get messy with these tea cookies and dessert nachos or get festive with a themed snack mix. You can get extra quality time by video chatting while you all prepare your own snack tables.
  • Goodie bags: If you live close by, you can drop off a custom goodie bag filled with your friends’ favorite munchies. This is a great option if you want to treat the guest of honor or try out a new recipe. If you live too far from each other, you can mail custom goodie bags or have yummy gift baskets delivered.
  • Themed ordering-in: Order a show-appropriate meal or munchies. With so many places now offering delivery and carryout and a phone-full of delivery apps, your options are endless.
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Call in the producers

Virtual watch party 2

Once the glitzy setup stuff is handled, it’s time to focus on logistics. Nothing induces loneliness and existential dread in these times like a technological difficulty that ruins the opportunity for virtual connection. So prepare:

  • Virtual venue: If you’re not watching something on live TV or don’t all have access to the same streaming service (so you can’t video chat on your phone and then say, “3…2…1…hit play,”), there are apps to help. Do a quick search to see which works best for you. A lot of streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, have built-in watch party features, and some third-party sites help bypass the we-all-have-different-service-subscriptions issue. Zoom and Scener are both good options if you want to use a third party.
  • No shushing: Some apps offer text chatting rather than video chatting. If you’re the type who hates talking during movies, this might be a great option for you. Other apps include video chatting as well as text chatting, which adds to the feelings of connection (but doesn’t take away the option to send GIFs and memes in real time).
  • Tech support: There are bound to be some hiccups, so make sure you’re easy to reach and you have a plan for troubleshooting. A nice way to make sure everyone’s good to go before the movie starts is to gather everyone in the virtual space beforehand. This way you can also provide a toast to kick things off. Thank the academy, thank your Wi-Fi, shout-out your mom.
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Make VIP swag bags

Virtual watch party 3

Friendship efforts—extended edition. If you’re celebrating a friend more than you’re celebrating a show, give them an A-list-worthy care package.

  • All virtual: Compile fan art, favorite scene screen-grabs, quotes, memes and whatever the heck else you want into a collage. Use your own skills or search for a free online collage maker (there are tons). This is also a great opportunity to personalize any themed playlists you’ve already compiled. To make this combo of virtual gifts feel more care-package-y, include some online gift cards to help fund their movie snack stash or their fan merch.
  • Gift boxed: Commemorate the guest of honor’s favorite movie, TV show or sports figures with a Keepsake Ornament, itty bittys stuffed animal or other gifts (search by their favorite character). If you’re getting together for a Hallmark Channel virtual watch party, we quite literally have you covered.
  • DIY, Baby: You are crafty. You are dedicated. You are choosing the bonus-points option. Follow our tips to create a care package personalized for the guest of honor. Collage the box. Add merch. Include snacks.

Pro tips

To glam up your treat bag or VIP swag bag, try matching the aesthetic of the show. Here are some examples using a Hallmark Channel holiday movie marathon as the big event:
  • Use gift wrap to set the mood from the second they open the box or bag.
  • Add a string of fairy lights, a paper chain or a garland.
  • Use a snowflake paper punch and blue and white tissue paper to make snow-fetti.
  • Don’t forget a card to let them know how important they are to you.

Sure, watching our favorite shows in person and seeing movies in theaters are their own kind of special. But you know what’s really great about virtual watch parties? How about:

  • Bathroom breaks happen in our own bathrooms.
  • No shame in getting up for snacks as often as you want.
  • Replacing uncomfortable costumes with stretchy pants.
  • No strangers around to stage-whisper, kick your seat or chew too loud.
  • Two words: Themed. Cocktails.

So get out there, give your friends celebrity-status treatment and have an awesome virtual watch party.