the lockdown birthday party story…

The world is facing a pandemic COVID -19 and hence a global lock-down since March this year. My husband had returned from International travel, so we had to undergo a 28-day home quarantine. The quarantine, the home isolation, the social distancing, the lockdown, the fear of uncertainty, no school, no tennis, no outdoor play, no friends, no nani-nanu; it was too much for my boy to cope up with. But soon he got conditioned to the lock-down way of life and home routine. However, the real panic button was hit on the day when the fourth phase of the lockdown was announced. And not because he was worried about the downslide of economy but how would he now celebrate his birthday!!!

So, we immediately got down to start planning a lock-down birthday for Neev. The first idea that clicked us was to connect with friends and family through Video Conferencing. As we progressed through the execution, we realized the virtual birthday meeting was not an easy task, and needs lots of detailed planning.

The story unfolds …

Neev‘s 8thVirtual Lockdown Birthday Party!

Video Call – Zoom or Google meet, Birthday theme, Fun games but online, Cake, Birthday surprise, Invitations, Décor were the key aspects. We started working on them.

The Theme

Couldn’t think of anything better than a Covid-19 lockdown theme for a lockdown birthday party.

The VC platform

Did a couple of trial runs, and finally decided on Google-Meet as the cap on count of invitees and meeting duration wasn’t too restrictive. And apparently, it’s got better safety measures as compared to others.

The Online Fun Games

Considering the novelty of such a party for us and the fear (unfounded, as we later found out) that other parents wouldn’t be too gung-ho about their kids attending online parties , we decided to have just 3 fun games that’d be over in 30 minutes or so.

One minute game Screen shared for a minute and asked the kids to raise the hands, if they had the correct answer.

The lock down treasure hunt Five treasure hunt tasks were planned. The screen displayed one task at a time. The first one to show the treasure on the screen was declared winner of that particular task.

Mini Tambola Designed the tickets with the pandemic social message – hand wash, maintain social distance , wear mask ,stay home stay safe ,follow lockdown .Restricted the call outs to 0-60 numbers, to make it quick . 

The Invite

The Invitations to join the Virtual Birthday Party went out in 3 parts

Part 1.We sent an invite a day before and then made couple of calls explaining the concept and requesting to download the VC application. Not everyone we know is tech savvy.

Part 2. On the day, the Google Meet link was sent

Part 3. Along with the VC link, explanation and the tickets of the tambola game were sent.

Virtual Birthday Party Invitation

The Décor

Picked up all the available color craft papers and made cut outs of sanitizer bottles, lockdown strips and masks. 

The Birthday Cake

#CupCakesandMore , created this beautiful lockdown birthday cake.

The Surprise!

Birthday celebrations are incomplete without a few surprises. We requested the immediate family members to send in videos with birthday wishes for my boy, which they would have anyways done through a text or a call. And to our pleasant surprise, we received a variety of creative and innovative videos. The birthday began with watching these lovely videos.

Some unplanned surprises also came along! Beautiful portrait of birthday boy sketched by his aunt; delicious chocolate cake home delivered on birthday eve by close family friend #NinjaBakers; and nothing can compete with the surprise sent across by the best friend, who stays in the neighborhood. Early morning, he showed up with a beautiful handcrafted birthday card and chocolates. Of course, the Social distancing norms were strictly maintained. 

Sketch by Anubha

The Event!

Saturday 30, 2020, 1755 hrs sharp we logged in to the birthday meeting. Excitement crept in when we discovered almost all the friends in the waiting room, waiting for the host’s permission.

After the usual video screen adjustments, mute -unmute game, we settle in for the first game, the one-minute game. Next we played treasure hunt, followed by the traditional cake cutting session. The last game we played was Tambola, which stretched for about 30 minutes.

Three games, cake cutting session and chit chats, it all lasted for almost 90 minutes.

That’s how the Virtual Birthday looked like….

An eight year old hosted his Virtual Birthday Party. Enthusiastic family and friends across the globe joined it. Received birthday gifts in form of special creations, which included videos of family dancing and singing, handmade birthday cards, perfectly baked cake home delivered, sketched portrait, Birthday theme based on the current affairs, aimed at teaching the latest societal norms.

Is this the new normal ?

The End 

-Ashwini

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