How to Host a Virtual Watch Party

As we gear up for a round of stellar virtual spring performing arts events coming to the Triangle, here are some ideas for hosting a virtual watch party.
by Kayla Guilliams and Brian Rosenzweig

Until live events are back in full swing, take matters into your own hands and host virtual watch parties for a different but nonetheless fun experience. With the weather getting a little warmer and tons of cultural events happening virtually — including United Arts Council’s Big Night in for the Arts on Thursday, March 11 (along with many others you can learn about here) — comes the opportunity to host a small, socially-distanced gathering outside where you can bring the energy of seeing live music or theatre to your backyard. Here’s how to host the ultimate watch party and make it feel like the next best thing.

Turn your Backyard into an Outdoor Theater

Please be seated
For seating, you could go a few different ways. For a more traditional, theater-like experience, space out a series of lawn or camper chairs — Great Outdoor Provisions Company has some great, comfortable options without breaking the bank (and they come in handy for camping trips and tailgating). Set them up in a criss-cross formation to make sure no one’s blocking someone else’s view. Add extra comfort and class with outdoor pillows from local places like Summer Classics or Greenfront. For a classic Southern summer night’s feel, round up some vintage quilts from the Raleigh Market or a local thrift or antique shop, and create an amphitheater-style semicircle around the screen.

Let there be light
To create a more ambient, theater-like experience, you’ll want to keep your backyard gently lit. For a classic, homey feel, pick up some string lights from Logan’s Garden Shop to hang along with a pergola, or around your fencing. For an easier, do-it-yourself option, secure some tea lights and spare lunch bags to create handmade luminaries to line your lawn. Or, for the chillier nights of early spring, a chiminea from Logan’s for some soft and warm light to your outdoor showing would be so cozy. Great Outdoor Provision Co has Solo stoves (which are all the rage these days!) and well as Luci solar string lights. Pop in retailers like Acquisitions, Deco, Nest, and more for candles. 

A Not-So-Silver Screen
Of course, a watch party ultimately comes down to what you’re watching it on. Stop into Audio Advice Raleigh, or shop online to see their selection of home theatre projectors, high-quality portable speakers, and all the extenders, accessories, and expertise you need to put it together. Project on a wide and flat area like a wall or fence, or hang a large blanket along your pergola to create a home theatre anywhere.

Host with the Most

Mask-erade it
In 2021, what party favor could be more universally practical than hand sanitizer? Greet your small group at the door with these cute inscribed travel-size bottles from Deco, or, to step it up, give everyone matching face masks from places like House of Swank, Edge of Urge, or Uniquities.

Get dressed, really!
After months and months of wearing your “comfy clothes” day in and day out, use the evening as an excuse to dust off your favorite clothes or hit a local retailer for something in a material other than Spandex. Since the weather can still be iffy (and it gets chilly once the sun goes down!) plan for layers: Edge of Urge has some comfy, quirky but stylish pieces, Monkees has feminine breezy dresses, Kannon’s is a great place for spring tops and skirts, and there’s always something fun at Martas, Vermillion, Flourish Market , and Main and Taylor for shoes (because one can’t be barefoot all the time). 

Break out the Apps
Once you’ve got your group together and settled, it’s time to nosh. Set up a long table out of the way of your screen, and create a grab-and-go spread of delicious local hors d’oeuvres, like Ladyfingers’ signature ham rolls, cod cakes from Figs Market, or Barcelona’s Aperitivo charcuterie board — all places with great take-home order options. We’ve also got a thorough list of places to score sandwiches, charcuterie, and more right here.

DIY Your Own Bar
Now that Governor Cooper has allowed the sale of to-go cocktails, you’ve gotta step it up to impress your guests! Consider a quarter gallon of Gringo’s fresh-made margarita mix or any of these local spots to shop for Happy Hour. Finish off your minibar with a unique set of retro glassware from The Fab Foo, cocktail and napkins from The Fort.