If you can’t get together with your friends to have a party in person, you may be thinking of how to have a party online. Free apps like Zoom make video meetings or social chats really easy to set up — but what do you do once everyone is connected? These are the very best Zoom party ideas we’ve tried, why they’re so fun, and how to set them up effectively.
Do note, though, that Zoom has a few different view options depending on the platform you are on. Generally, the Gallery setting is better than Mini or Active Speaker when you are holding a party. Gallery makes sure everyone has equal face time and makes interruptions easier to manage. However, it also works best with a larger screen, so different devices can require different approaches. Also, if you haven’t updated Zoom apps recently, make sure you do so! The latest updates include important security upgrades. Finally, remember that the free version of Zoom caps a meeting at 40 minutes before you have to start another session.
Jackbox party games
If you haven’t taken a look at Jackbox games yet, you really should — they have a wealth of games that are designed for online play. Over Zoom, this means you buy the digital game and use Zoom’s screensharing function to launch it in your window or share it locally with friends (depending on the type of game).
There are several advantages to this. First, only one person needs to own the game to share it with everyone at the party. Second, while Jackbox offers all sorts of games (including some education options for kids), it has great party packs that are specifically designed just for these types of Zoom parties. That includes comedy contests, word challenges, personality tests, murder mystery games, drinking games, and basically anything that your group might feel like playing.
Finally, Jackbox games have excellent platform support and can be integrated across basically all devices, including Steam’s Remote Play option for the more game-oriented groups.
Netflix Party is a free Chrome extension with a very specific purpose: It helps online groups of people watch Netflix together. It has perfect features for a Zoom party too, including video synchronization, an extra group chat feature, and customization options. It’s also pretty easy to adopt, as one person controls the Netflix settings and invites everyone else with a party URL — although your friends will need to download the extension themselves.
All that makes this a great option for binge-watching shows together, especially new shows or something your party has been meaning to catch up on.
Playing traditional board games online
Maybe your idea of a great party includes more traditional games in a more intimate setting. We highly suggest the Playing Cards site, which assigns you an online room with a code you can provide to other players. Communicate over Zoom and use this room to set up your favorite game. Preset rooms are available for Checkers, Go Fish, Euchre, Crazy Eights, and more, but you can also customize a room of your own for whatever you prefer to play.
The only downside is that many of these games are designed for two people and may not be suitable for larger parties where more complex games are required (the site supports up to six players, but preset games aren’t really made for that). If you don’t have time to set up a multiplayer game all on your own, you can check out something like the Poker Heat app, which easily allows you to invite friends to your own digital poker game.
Virtual Cards Against Humanity
If your group is a Cards Against Humanity kind of circle, you already know it — but you may not know that there are ways to play the game online with friends while communicating over a Zoom meeting. Well, sort of. Cards Against Humanity itself doesn’t offer a specific app for this, but they do license a not-quite-knockoff version made for online play called All Bad Cards.
All Bad Cards is wonderfully easy to use. You either start a new game yourself or join an existing game (which includes gamers you don’t know, but that can be fun too). You can adjust the number of rounds to play and how many needed to win, and even include a video chat URL right in the settings. Then you choose your card and wait for all other players to submit their card responses. Take a look at the cards when you are ready and choose the winner. The scoreboard is automatically kept for all joined players.
A Dungeons & Dragons session
Maybe your group is more into tabletop RPGs but can’t really meet in person right now. Zoom can help with part of that (a customized fantasy background can help, too), but you may be puzzled at just how to work out an interactive system for your D&D session. That’s where Roll20 comes in. There are other sites that can help with digital RPG adventures, but Roll20 is easily the best, with beautiful games, interactive maps, player icons, digital dice to roll, and all the materials you need to make your games complete. If you’ve been jonesing for a D&D meetup, sign up today and start putting together a group.
The caveat to this is that your group needs to know how to play D&D already, or at least have a very patient and competent Dungeon Master. Fortunately, sites like Roll20 include a ton of alternative RPG options, including some lighter games for those with less experience/patience, and lots to experiment with.
Pictionary with a Zoom Whiteboard
Pictionary is a great party game … provided you have space to draw. Well, Zoom offers just that with its Whiteboard feature, which allows you to create and share a communal whiteboard with the whole party. It’s an admirable substitute for real-life Pictionary that works great. You will need some randomized ideas for subjects, which is why we recommend the Pictionary Generator tool. Oh, and someone will have to be assigned to start the timer, but we have faith you can figure that one out.
All charades really requires is a good camera angle for all players, instead of the Whiteboard option used for Pictionary, and you’re ready to go! Don’t worry, there are word generators for charades available as well, but you’ll all have to agree on your specific rule variations for Zoom play ahead of time.
A virtual foodie event
If your friends love food, then think about a party focused around foodie adventures. A few options we’ve seen people have a ton of fun with are:
- Cooking parties where you pick one great recipe (or any recipe you want) and just hang out and cook together.
- Trying one specific new meal, maybe ordering from a great restaurant none of you have tried yet.
- An Iron Chef-like contest where you pick an ingredient and everyone has to make something with it, then see how it tastes.
You can take this in many directions depending on what you want your party to be like, so feel free to consult with your taste buds and friends about what sounds like the most fun!