Usually, I don’t share my personal life on my blog. But last Monday was my birthday and I was able to have a blast with my family and friends even during this crazy coronavirus pandemic period. Virtually, of course…
I’ve organized and attended several video conferences in my professional life. I dare say that I’ve been using this kind of media professionally for over 10 years. But this was the first time I used this tool to feel closer to those I love on the most special day of the year for me.
People who will need to celebrate their birthday in the coming days, still during the lockdown period, asked me for suggestions. So, I thought about writing how I planned and executed my first online party. I hope you enjoy reading it!
I started to plan this online party one week before the “due date”: Monday, March 30th! Below is listed my activities checklist:
- For virtual meetings:
- Prepare an invitation
- Organize the meeting with your family and your closest group(s) of friends, and find the best time for most
- Set up meetings on Zoom and in your own calendar
- With the calendar set to the groups, invite other friends for a “general party” and set them up on Zoom and in your own calendar
- Prepare activities to engage with the attendees
- For your private party with your loved ones (those living with you)
- Order food, flowers, cake, balloons, so you’ll feel that this is your special day
- Don’t forget to set a time for you and your loved ones to have at least one special supper with them (I forgot and I had to cancel with one of the groups)
In the next section, I’ll elaborate a bit more, with step-by-step pointers and relevant links for virtual party preparations.
Circumstances don’t make a man, they reveal him – James Allen
1. Prepare an invitation
For the invitation, I wanted to add a cool birthday picture alongside the invitation text.
For the invitation, I used Canva. For those who don’t know this website, Canva is a graphic design platform that allows anyone to create beautiful graphics, presentations and other visual content.
2. Organize the meeting with your family and your closest group(s) of friends, and find the best time for most
Five days before the due date, I had the invitation prepared. Then, I began sending it to each Whatsapp group and asking the participants to suggest the best time for them (considering that some people were doing work from home, so I had to adapt to their schedule).
I have family and friends spread all around the world, mainly in Brazil, Israel, USA, Canada and even one in Iceland! It can be tough to make sure we are online at the exact same time, due to different time zones, especially because Israel entered Daylight Saving Times last Friday. In order to overcome this challenge, I used the World Time Buddy website.
3. Set meetings on Zoom and in your own calendar
After reaching an agreement of the best time for each group, I created a Zoom meeting in my calendar, using the Zoom plugin for Google Chrome. You’ll need to allow Zoom to access your Google calendar. Just follow the instructions.
To schedule a meeting in Google Calendar, I prefer using their time zone. I thought as a business professional – the attendees of this Zoom meeting were my customers and I wanted them satisfied with the experience of joining my online party!
The next step is to invite the guests.
After choosing the correct people for this online party and hitting “Save”, you need to confirm your action.
Repeat the steps above until you finish scheduling your online party with all your family and groups of friends.
4. With the calendar set for the groups, invite other friends for a “general party” and set them on Zoom and in your own calendar
Like many of you, I have friends that are a part of a group (usually a few close friends with our own Whatsapp group) and friends that aren’t connected to any other group of friends.
After organizing the “closed group” parties, I invited other friends to this “open party” at 3 different times on the day (taking into consideration Israel’s and Brazil’s time zones – always!).
5. Prepare activities to engage with the attendees
After I had all the events set, I began to think about how to make this party fun! I mainly did two things:
1- Added a happy, colorful, “birthday style” background on Zoom.
2- Prepared a quiz about myself to play, mostly, with my family.
5.1. Add a background in Zoom
You can only add a background while using the desktop app.
5.2. Prepare a quiz
I wanted to prepare an interactive and fun birthday! I remembered having played fun quizzes as icebreakers in meetups here in Israel. There are several online quizzes you can find on Google. I chose to use Kahoot!, a game-based learning platform.
I picked a ready-made template, inserted my personal questions, tested it (with my husband), and then translated to Hebrew and Portuguese (and tested it a bit more).
My husband suggested an “exercise quiz”, with simple questions (such as how much is 2+2 and how many cats are there in the picture), so they could understand how to play, taking into consideration that there were players from age 9 to 70+.
We played together and I promised to give a gift to the winner, as soon as the lockdown period is over. Honestly, it was great fun!
As I stated in the title, I had a blast on my virtual birthday with my family and friends! But not only that! By using my creativity, I was also able to learn and practice new digital skills!
If you have any questions regarding the tools I mentioned, I’ll be happy to help! Just send me an e-mail or comment on this post!