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How to have the best virtual cocktail party of the year 

5 tips, plus Zoom backgrounds for sharing, a local playlist, food ideas and more.

click to enlarge ANISA FRANCOEUR
  • Anisa Francoeur
1
Plan ahead

First, pick a platform. By now you probably know about Zoom, Facetime and Google Hangouts. As host, consider upgrading to a paid account to allow for extra time and more features. Plan your date and time, accounting for the time zones of everyone you want to invite. Then send out an invitation well in advance, giving instructions on how to join the party. You can use websites like Canva and Evite to create custom e-vites.
2
Pick a theme

It wouldn’t be a holiday party without extra effort. Go all-out and encourage people to dress in their best outfit, or go with a theme like ugly sweaters or roaring ’20s. Plan a themed cocktail and give everyone an ingredients list to make their own version at home—plenty of alcohol is made right here in Nova Scotia, so shopping local gives you lots of choices. Figure out if you’ll co-ordinate snacks to the theme or get everyone to order in and support local restaurants, ordering from pizza, sushi or taco shops in your own communities.
3
Set the mood

Pick a party soundtrack to get everyone in the same zone (we suggest The Coast’s own playlist below), or ask guests their fave songs and compile a playlist on Spotify or Apple Music. Get people to set their video background to match the theme, and socialize like it’s a “real” cocktail party or busy Halifax bar (if anyone remembers those).
4
Keep the party flowing

Video chats can get boring fast if there’s no conversation, so keep everyone intrigued with conversation topics or games: Cards Against Humanity, charades and trivia work well. If you see a few people left out, ask them a direct question or start talking about something you know they’re into. And if your party is big enough, consider dividing into break-out rooms to allow people to chat in smaller groups.
5
Let us help!

See below for invite templates, food and cocktail ideas, a local holiday party playlist and video backgrounds.

Invitation templates

Download one of our invites from below, or make your own online (we made ours for free on Canva).
click to enlarge zoom_invite1.png
click to enlarge zoom_invite2.png
click to enlarge zoominvite3.png
click to enlarge zoominvite4.png

Cocktail ideas

Here’s a quartet of options featuring made-in-NS booze. But if you don’t want to drink alcohol, one thing about virtual parties is they don’t have bartenders, so you get to fill your glass any way you like.

click to enlarge COLDSTREAM CLEAR
  • coldstream clear
Holiday Nog
1 oz. vodka, 2 oz. Coldstream Clear eggnog rum cream, 2 oz milk, nutmeg or cinnamon, ice.

Rum Punch
JD Shore spiced rum from Halifax Distilling Company, baked oranges with cloves, sugar, local apple cider. Mix, heat, serve hot.

Maritime Mule
Ginger beer, 2 oz. Compass Distillers vodka, lime juice, ice.

Mulled Wine
Red wine—Luckett, Grand Pré and Jost are among many local wineries—cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon, orange. Mix, heat, serve hot.

Food Ideas

click to enlarge HONEY BLISS BOX
  • honey bliss box
For a fancy party:
  • Charcuterie from Honey Bliss Box
  • Dinner from Lot Six or Brooklyn Warehouse
  • Dessert from The Middle Spoon or Sweet Hereafter Cheesecakes
For a classic Halifax party:
  • Pizza and garlic fingers from Salvatore’s
  • Donairs from King of Donair
  • Burgers from Darrell’s Restaurant
For a festive vibe:
  • Holiday cookies from Schoolhouse or Suzie's Shortbreads
  • Turkey dinner from Kitchen Door Catering
  • Holiday Prix Fixe from Morris East
Make it yourself:
When everyone separately makes the same thing, it's more of a party plus individual diet needs or tastes are easily handled. Try classics like mac ’n’ cheese, a warm soup or see who can make the best Crock-Pot meal. Or keep it cozy with hot chocolate and holiday cookies like shortbreads or gingersnaps.

Holiday playlist

Coast arts editor Morgan Mullin compiled a merry and bright holiday playlist available full of local and classic party tunes.

Zoom backgrounds

You can pretend your party is virtually anywhere in the world. Where will you be?
click to enlarge Waiting in line outside the dome. - THE COAST
  • Waiting in line outside the dome.
  • the coast
click to enlarge The Macdonald Bridge. - FLICKR
  • The Macdonald Bridge.
  • flickr
click to enlarge Inside the Central Library. - HALIFAX PUBLIC LIBRARIES
  • Inside the Central Library.
  • halifax public libraries
click to enlarge Partying like it's 1999, or 2019, at The Seahorse. - RILEY SMITH
  • Partying like it's 1999, or 2019, at The Seahorse.
  • riley smith
click to enlarge Waiting for a donair on Pizza Corner. - WIKIPEDIA
  • Waiting for a donair on Pizza Corner.
  • wikipedia

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