The joy and support that friends bring into our lives have never been more important, especially now that we’re maintaining social distance. A virtual happy hour lets you connect with the people you love and miss while enjoying all the things you love about happy hour—friends, fun, and fancy cocktails—even if you’re all in your own living rooms. Whether it’s a weekly meetup, or a virtual birthday, anniversary, or cocktail party, it’s the details that make a virtual hangout feel like a party rather than a conference call. You don’t have to incorporate all the elements you would if you were hosting people at home, but one or more of these ideas adds a festive touch to a happier hour in cyberspace:


-Make it Inviting. Instead of just a group text, send an evite from a company like Paperless Post or Evite that lets you put your Zoom or Houseparty link right in the invitation.

-Toast a Host. For larger groups of 10 or more, it can be helpful to have someone take on the role of guiding the conversation so that everyone’s not talking over each other. For smaller groups, it can be more free-flowing.

-Keep it Short and Sweet. Plan the call for about an hour, so that people know what to expect (anyone who wants to keep the party going can do so over FaceTime or just re-up the call).

Darcy Miller Designs, Darcy Miller, Spritz Bar, Party, Aperol Spritz, Bridal Shower

-Pick a theme! Since all travel is armchair travel these days, why not have a France-themed party where everyone makes a French cocktail and nibbles on whatever cheese they have, or an Italian event where you all drink Aperol Spritzes or Negronis? And, of course, it could be margarita and chips for a faux Mexican vacation, or boozy tea-time with Gin & Tonics for your virtual trip to London. (For the template to our Aperol Spritz bar, click here.)

-Start Strong. Get everyone in the mood with a toast prompt—ask each person to share one thing they’re grateful for, a good thing that’s happened to them, or something that made them happy today. If your crew likes to plan ahead, email a card ahead of time asking a deep thought-eliciting question, giving everyone time to print out and fill in before reading aloud on the call. Or, start with a five-minute meditation (get inspired by Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s podcast or at You can also save this for when you’re wrapping up the call to leave everyone calm and content.


-Outfit Yourselves. Just because everyone is at home doesn’t mean you can’t have a dress code! A funny outfit can really lift everyone’s spirits. Make it a pajama party or invite people to wear the craziest thing they can find in their closet—whether it’s an old bridesmaid’s dress, last year’s Halloween costume, or one of your prized collection of concert t-shirts. Or, opt for a crazy hairstyle or fun accessories: hats, oversized glasses, jewelry or even a party crown.

-Tune In. Send around a Spotify playlist so you’re all listening to the same songs at the same time. Music amps up the ambience for the party—mariachis and tequila cocktails for Cinco de Mayo, golden oldies for your parents’ anniversary. (And if it’s a long-distance date, check out our romantic Spotify playlist.)

-Set the Mood. Light candles so everyone can see the flickering of candlelight on your screen—you guests can join you by lighting their own or dimming the lights in their home—just not so low that they can’t be seen!

Darcy Miller Designs, Darcy Miller, margarita bar, party, food and drink

-Dress up Your Drinks. If your friends love to DIY, send everyone links to printables that can be used to create cake or dessert toppers, or custom swizzle sticks, like these cacti which make any drink worthy of Cinco de Mayo—and all you need is a printer, paper, scissors and toothpicks.


-Pick a Menu. Send a signature cocktail recipe you can all mix at the same time, or tune into an online cocktail mixing lesson like this one on Masterclass, and get shaking. You can take turns picking the class or recipe for a weekly happy hour, or turn to an expert like @theliquorcabinet or @punch_drink or for fun recipes. And, don’t forget to include a nonalcoholic option for those who don’t drink!

-Go Back to Basics. If you’re not sure you can all get the ingredients to work on the same cocktail recipe, no worries! A fun Master-Chef challenge is to see what drink you can mix out of whatever’s in your fridge. Pull that forgotten bottle of vodka out of your freezer and throw in a mix-in, then everyone can share the ingredients in their concoction.


  • Easy classic vodka cocktails include:
  • A Sea Breeze (add cranberry and grapefruit juices)
  • A Screwdriver (just add OJ)
  • A Cape Cod (just add cranberry)
  • A Spritz (add soda and fruit juice)
  • A Bloody Mary (add tomato juice and spices)
  • A Moscow Mule (add ginger beer and lime juice)
  • A White Russian (add coffee liqueur, milk)
  • A Lemon Drop (add lemon juice, sugar, and triple sec)
  • An Arnold Palmer (add lemonade and iced tea)
  • Get creative by adding a little watered down jelly or jam, herbs, or frozen fruit; or try apple cider vinegar and maple syrup
  • Virgin cocktails can get in on the fun, too, whether it’s a Virgin Mary, an Arnold Palmer or a Roy Rogers (ginger ale and orange juice)

-Eat Something! Instead of a cocktail, send a bar snack recipe to your guests, so that whatever each of you is drinking, you’re all noshing on the same thing (spiced mixed nuts, parmesan cheese crisps, and guacamole are all easy-to-make favorites).

-Be Cool. Make any drink special with ice cubes that come packed with a little something extra. Freeze whatever fruit you have on hand into ice cube trays—blueberries, strawberries, lemon or orange chunks—and use those to add some fun flavor to your drink.

-Wine Not? Have a virtual wine tasting, where each caller shares the story and flavor profile of the bottle they’re drinking.


-Play Something! Some classic party or game night activities work just as well virtually, like Pictionary, Simon Says (save this for when everyone is already a few drinks in), Truth or Dare, or Heads Up. Or, even easier, make your conversation a drinking game—every time a word is mentioned (e.g. “screen”or “I miss you” or “work”)—everybody drinks.

-Host a Hunt. Set a timer for a virtual scavenger hunt that sends everyone rushing around their house to see what they can gather in two minutes. Give people a list of things to search for, either in a specific color (e.g. “as many blue things as you can find;” for a how-to, see here) or a number (e.g. “anything printed with a lucky number 7” or “things with that day’s date”). Or, make a list of items like concert tickets, a matchbook from a restaurant, a postcard. Whoever comes back with the most items—or pictures of them—wins. Found mementos also inspire great storytelling!


-Send a Surprise. If you’re invited to a happy hour to celebrate someone’s birthday, anniversary, or another noteworthy occasion, send a present for the honoree—which they will appreciate. It’s great to shop local and support a small business. To get everyone in the mood for the virtual happy hour, send a cocktail recipe book, a cheese basket, a bottle of champagne or wine from Minibar, which offers liquor delivery in 18 states, an e-gift card to a winery, or a bottle of Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits. (If you’re hosting a small virtual bash for a special occasion, you could even have a treat mailed ahead to all your guests—some chocolates, or a mini bottle of bubbly.)

-Pencil it In! Set up a time for your next happy hour so that you’ll all have something to look forward to—or, think ahead to who has a birthday, or another reason to celebrate. And, if you think of someone else who is alone or might appreciate a gathering between now and then, invite them too.

-Say, Cheers! Before you sign off, toast each other—have everyone raise their glass to the right or left as a virtual way to clink glasses and wish each other all the best until the next virtual get-together.

Looking to send a happy-hour inspired gift for a virtual birthday, graduation, mother’s day or father’s day? Here are some ideas!

1.Cheese Basket, 2. Personalized Wine Glasses, 3. Personalized Napkins, 4. DIY Infused Liquor, 5. Cocktail Book, 6. Glass Straws, 7. Socks, 8. Cocktail Kit