Virtual Happy Hour: Everything You Need To Plan a Fun Event

Thomas Paris
September 22, 2021
Virtual Happy Hour: Everything You Need To Plan a Fun Event | Hoppier

Planning a virtual happy hour should be exciting. It’s an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other better in a setting where work isn’t the focus.

To help you host an engaging virtual happy hour, we’ve brought together our best tips and advice for planning, themes, and activities. Follow this guide, and you’ll be able to host a virtual happy hour that your coworkers will love.

How To Organize a Fun Virtual Happy Hour

Sure, you can send out a meeting request and call it "virtual happy hour," but if you want it to be a success there’s a lot more planning that goes into it. Here’s how to plan and organize a virtual happy hour that people want to attend.

Cover Your Bases

Before we can jump into the fun stuff like theming and party games, we need to make sure we have our event planning bases covered.

Think about how many people you want to attend your virtual happy hour. Somewhere between three and 15 is great — while you don’t need to consider social distancing like you would with an in-person meet up, you still want a small enough group for everyone to get some screen time.

Consider the date, time, and reason for your virtual get-together. These kinds of events are a great way to celebrate a team member's birthday, acknowledge a target or milestone, host a holiday party, or mark a fun day like National Pizza Day or Halloween.

You’ll also want to think about how to invite everyone to your virtual event. Your invite could be as simple as sending a quick email, but make it stand out with fun graphics, bright colors, and a call to action. For an easier and more interesting way to send out invites and collect RSVPs, consider sending digital invitations.

Choose a Platform

Video calls are part of the norm these days, which makes finding the right platform for your happy hour a breeze. You probably already have a favorite software for virtual meetings, so it’s easy to schedule your happy hour using that.

Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype are all good options for your virtual team get-together. They provide the opportunity for you all to gather, see people’s faces, and add interactive elements like screen sharing or video. All your guests need to join is their computer or phone, and a webcam.

Most of the time, these simple video call platforms are perfect for virtual happy hours. Other times, you’ll want something a little more unique — like a virtual environment. Take a look at our guide to the best virtual event platforms to help you find the right tool.

Add a Happy Hour Theme

While your virtual happy hour doesn’t have to have a theme, it can be a fun way to bring people together. It also adds another distinction between business meetings and social team-building time.

An easy way to find a great theme is to think about the reason behind your happy hour. If it’s someone’s birthday, honor that with an event themed around their favorite color, hobby, or video game. If you’re celebrating a new client win, you could host a Hollywood-style bash and get dressed up.

Most of your go-to office party themes translate into virtual happy hours too. You could throw an 80s-inspired virtual happy hour with retro accessories and a hit playlist, or ask everyone to join you in character for a Clue-inspired happy hour.

Choose Your Activities

Party games and activities can be a little hit and miss. Not everyone wants to play charades or take part in drinking games. Make sure you choose your activities based on the people you’re celebrating with.

To make sure you’re planning an event your guests will love, send out a quick survey with some of your ideas beforehand. That way, you can adjust your plans before you’ve committed to them. Plus, you can get people excited about being there — and discover amazing ideas you hadn’t thought of.

If you want to keep it simple, that’s fine too. Don’t feel pressured to schedule every moment of your virtual happy hour — if your guests just want to get together to chat over drinks or casual online games, that’s perfect too.

How To Make Your Happy Hour Fun and Engaging

The best way to keep your party guests engaged is to make them feel welcome. Here are a few simple yet effective ways to do just that.

Schedule at the Right Time

There’s nothing worse than hearing about a great party that you can’t make it to. Reduce FOMO and help your attendees avoid distractions by scheduling your event at the right time.

You know your team best, so consider their unique needs when you plan the date and time of your get-together. Think about the team's schedules, responsibilities, and work style.

If your remote team is distributed across multiple time zones, you’ll want to be extra thoughtful with your scheduling. What looks like a 4pm happy hour for some of your guests could be mid-morning for others, so make it both cocktail and coffee friendly.

The best way to find the right time for your video chat is to ask your guests. Send out a quick poll to find everyone’s best availability, and schedule your virtual happy hour for the most popular time. It still might not work for everyone, but that’s okay — just choose a different day and time the next time you host so everyone will have a chance to attend at least one event.  

Cover the Drinks and Snacks

Hoppier virtual credit cards for covering the cost of employee drinks for a virtual happy hour

It’s not a happy hour without drinks. Usually you’d be able to pick up a few bottles and lay out some snacks, but a virtual happy hour is a little different. Luckily, there’s an easy way to cover the budget for your team's happy hour drinks.

Use Hoppier to set up and send out virtual credit cards for your team members. Not only does this make taking part easier, it’s also a simple but sweet way to give back to your coworkers. They can treat themselves to their favorite beer and burger, or order coffee and a slice of cake. Here's how it works:

Create Your Happy Hour Program

virtual happy hour credit cards for buying food and drinks

When you set up your virtual happy hour credit cards, you can add personal touches like your company logo, company colors, or a happy hour icon. Once your program has the look you want, you'll get down to the finer details like setting a spending limit for your guests.

For happy hour, a $20 spending limit is typically enough to allow guests to buy their favorite adult beverage and some snacks. But, any amount of spending money will help your guests enjoy the event — so, base this decision on your budget. If you can only afford $10 per person, guest will still be able to pick up their favorite brews. If you can afford more, set your budget high and encourage guests to treat themselves to a nice bottle of wine or barrel-aged whiskey.

You can also set a time limit on the funds, allowing your team to order drinks and snacks before the event. Any money they don't spend within the time frame will get refunded, so you can add it back to your company budget. You can also leave the time frame open as a gift to your attendees after the event.

Choose Your Vendors

Setting vendors for virtual happy hour spending

You can set limits on which vendors team members can buy from. You can limit your vendors based on broad categories like alcohol stores, restaurants, or grocery stores, or you can choose specific vendors like Minibar and DoorDash. You can also leave it open so guests can decide where to spend their happy hour money.

When you set your vendors, keep in mind that not everyone drinks alcohol. Consider adding coffee shops, bakeries, and dessert options alongside your adult beverage options.

Invite Your Guests

Invitations to a virtual credit card program

You've already sent invites to the event — now, surprise your guests with an invite to their virtual credit card. Hoppier makes this step easy. You can upload a CSV file with all your guests' email addresses. Then, write your own email or use an invitation template to get your cards sent out quickly.

Virtual happy hour invitation template for food and drink perks

Once each guest joins the program, they'll get their own Hoppier card to spend at local stores. With vendors all over the world, even distributed team members can find food and drinks in their area. So, everyone will be able to enjoy the perks of virtual happy hour.

Keep the Conversation Light

You might be celebrating a work related milestone, but keep the chat at your virtual happy hour light and as work-free as possible.

Kick off the event with a short intro about the project or what a successful week it’s been, but then keep work talk off the table. As a starting point, stick to simple talking points like current events, movies and TV, and hobbies, and let conversation flow naturally.

Work social events can easily end up being just another video call, so let your coworkers know they’re free to leave business at the door. Depending on your guests, you might need to confirm that this doesn’t mean being unprofessional — it’s all about finding the right balance.

11 Virtual Happy Hour Ideas to Take Your Event to the Next Level

A man plays guitar as part of a virtual happy hour activity

Never again worry about whether people will tune out during your virtual happy hour. Find the perfect activities and games for your virtual get-together here.

1. Show and Tell

Get to know your coworkers with a virtual show and tell. Bring this typical classroom exercise online for a fun way to learn about someone’s interests, passions, and life.

To kick-off the session, ask team members to show an item and talk about it. Here are a few prompts you can use as a topic for your next virtual show and tell:

  • The beverage they’re drinking
  • Movie, album, or book recommendations
  • Their pet
  • Their most prized possession
  • Their best purchase under $100 that helped them work better
  • Their hobbies
  • Their favorite photo or painting

Some people struggle to come up with ideas on the spot, so you might want to pre-warn your party guests that you’re planning a show-and-tell icebreaker. That way, they can prepare something fun to share.

2. Showcase Fun Party Tricks

Most of us have that weird, fun skill that doesn't have any practical application but is nonetheless pretty impressive — like being able to raise your brow like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or to write backwards super fast.

Let your team members share these unique talents with the group. This is a great little icebreaker, and your confident coworkers will love the chance to demonstrate their skills. If your group is less confident, swap this for a mini challenge where you all attempt a weird skill together instead.

3. Virtual Cosplay Party

Cosplay isn’t just for conventions and real-life parties — it works well for virtual get-togethers too.

Choose a party theme where everyone dresses as their favorite character, or plan a theme based on a movie, TV show, anime, or trend. Here are some fun costume party theme ideas:

  • The Simpsons
  • Pokémon
  • James Bond
  • Horror movie characters
  • Hollywood actors
  • 90s fashion

Not everyone has a costume in their closet, so give your guests plenty of notice — and offer some ideas in the form of a lookbook.

4. Watch Along Netflix Party

While this extends your happy hour a little beyond an hour, it’s a great way to get people together and unite over an amazing (or terrible!) film or TV show.

It’s easy to set up a viewing party on Netflix, Hulu, Disney, or HBO with Teleparty. This free Chrome extension lets you sync up video and watch together — with a chat feature so you can talk plot points or react to bad jokes in real-time. Add in a drinking game, and you have a chill, non-traditional happy hour.

5. Happy Hour Bingo

If you’re looking for a simple yet rewarding party game for your virtual happy hour, bingo is always a great choice.

Create a bingo card based on your party theme, or choose one of these easy prompts to design a fun game:

  • Things the <insert team name> says
  • Remote work or conference call woes
  • Quarantine buzz words
  • Have you ever ____?
  • Getting to know you
  • Holiday
  • Monday blues

Add in a few different ways to win — like straight lines, inside or outside boxes, and of course the full house. Don’t forget to send a prize to the winners — an easy way to do this is to load prize money onto their Hoppier card.

6. Mixology Session

Two craft cocktails for a virtual happy hour

Take the drinking part of happy hour one step further and invite your guests along to a live virtual mixology class.

Invite an expert mixologist to teach your team how to make different cocktails and mocktails. Stick to classics like margaritas and mojitos, or ask them to come up with a signature drink for your brand.

Share an ingredients list with your party guests the week before, and give them a virtual Hoppier card so they can order what they need.

7. Board Game Night

Invite your coworkers to join you on an adventure through a fantasy world or help you solve a murder mystery with a board game night.

Choose something simple like Codenames or Pictionary to start things off, or opt for a more intense game like Lords of Waterdeep or Pandemic if your group is more experienced.

Some of your guests might find it challenging to play a physical board game remotely. Most board games have online versions you can play together instead. For example, Colonist is a free online alternative to the popular Catan.

If you find this virtual happy hour really popular, you could transition it into a regular weekly event after work.

8. Happy Hour Trivia Game

Virtual pub trivia sessions give you the perfect combination of entertaining and unusual facts. For instance, did you know that Jerry Seinfeld decided to pull the plug on Seinfeld after nine seasons because the Beatles broke up after nine years?

Stick to a short, general trivia game, or play your game in multiple rounds and make it the star of your happy hour. Here are some trivia theme ideas:

  • Movies and TV
  • Music
  • Decades
  • Geography
  • Animals
  • Technology

You could also get your coworkers involved in setting up the quiz. Ask everyone to contribute a round of quiz questions based on their personal interests.

9. Scavenger Hunt

Give an office party classic a virtual makeover by staging an at-home scavenger hunt.

Your party guests will be hunting for items around their home, so keep this in mind as you build your scavenger hunt list. Stick to easy to find items or ask them to find things based on a descriptor like a color, texture, size, or shape.

10. Guess the Song Challenge

Challenge your music-loving coworkers to see who's the best at recognizing a tune with a "guess the song" game.

Set up a collaborative playlist on Spotify, and ask everyone to add songs to it. When happy hour rolls around, hit play, and see who can guess the song the fastest. If your coworkers have really varied taste in music, stick to a general theme to make it easier — like a certain decade or genre of music.

11. Book Club

If you have an active book club at your company, transform your usual meetings into a virtual happy hour.

You can have a lot of fun with this and choose your books based around the main themes, locations, or times covered. Add in a trivia game to test everyone’s knowledge, mix up some themed drinks, and you have a virtual happy hour that’s fun, engaging, and refreshing.

Make Your Next Virtual Happy Hour a Success

Virtual happy hours are one of the best ways to bring people together, build friendships, and reward your coworkers with some fun.

Perfect your planning basics, choose a theme, and create a schedule using these activity ideas. Help your event run smoothly by using Hoppier to send your coworkers a stipend to buy drinks, and you'll have all the ingredients for an engaging virtual happy hour.

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