Celebrating a birthday? Here’s how to do it virtually.


Contributed by Jessica Hanthorn, adviser

A driveway decorated for a drive-though sweet 16 birthday party. Students have found other ways to celebrate milestone events during the stay at home order.

Chelsee Sawai, Staff Writer

You open up your calendar and see that special date, your friend’s birthday and want to throw the ultimate party for them, but you can’t because of COVID-19. Not to worry because there’s a simple solution: a virtual birthday party.

Sophomore Kylie Canubida celebrated her birthday on Zoom with her friends and said she thought of it as a break from this tough time.

“You only live once and you’re only your current age once,” she said. “ I’m only going to be 16 once so I wanted to make the most out of it,”

At the virtual party, guests played a trivia game to get to know her better, which she said was a lot of fun.

“It was a great way to see everyone’s faces, and it was a short break from reality,” she said.
Canubida said it was a treat for her to get to see the people she once was able to see every day on campus.

“I felt great, just the joy of seeing all of my friends who are close to me makes me feel really happy,” she said. “This quarantine is driving me insane because I can’t see or sit down with any of my friends anymore.”

Mid-Pacific experts and Canubida shared their ideas, with their experience, on how to make that virtual party you’re planning, unforgettable and special.

What are the first steps?

Director of student activities Bill Wheeler said there are certain concepts to think about before you start to plan the party.

“Do you want it to be a surprise party or do you want to try to keep it a secret from the person you are celebrating? So it’ll take some organization in the background before you actually do it,” said Wheeler, who often plans campus events.

Mid-Pacific Ambassador and Atherton House Manager Leslie Turnbull said it is important to know what your motives are when planning and how to make the person you are having the party for feel happy.

“The first thing you want to ask yourself is what’s my objective and you want that person to feel special and recognized for his or her time on the planet. Every step of the way, ask yourself does this move me closer to that objective,” said Turnbull.

Turnbull often plans events or parties such as the annual legacy dinners and faculty get-togethers in the Atherton House.

“Doing it well in advance, make check-lists and have everything set out so that there’s no last minute disasters or surprises,” said Turnbull.

What software should I use?

It is important to use a platform that you are comfortable with and know how to use efficiently, said technology specialist Tony Johansen.
“There are different conferencing call softwares you can use likeSkype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom,” he said.

Wheeler said you should know the layout of what is going to happen at the party, which will determine the application that should be used.

“Before you can determine the platform, you have to plan out what you want it to look like and what kind of components you want,” he said.

What activities should I do?

Johansen said he recommends downloading a party game series called Jackbox Party Pack Games because he uses it a lot when he gets together with people virtually.

“It’s a collection of different games and you can get it on different app stores, you just need to run it on something you capture on the screen, like your computer,” he said.

Contributed by Chelsee Sawai

Showing that you’ve put lots of thought into what happens at the party will make the person you are celebrating feel happy, said Turnbull.

“Special things the host can do is put together a special playlist of all their favorite songs, contact somebody that they wouldn’t normally expect like a beloved relative or a friend who lives far away, or get a celebrity to give them a birthday message,” she said.

Canubida said she’s glad that her attendees were able to play trivia about her, and it was the best part about her party.

“I felt it was a unique experience because if we were to be at a regular party, there might not be a chance to talk to everyone and no one feels left out,” she said.

What are some challenges?

According to a study done by the National Institute of Health, looking at a screen for too long leads to blurred vision, long-term vision problems and eye strain.

Wheeler said the party shouldn’t be too long or else people’s minds will start to wander from looking at their devices for a long period of time.

“You probably want to make sure you don’t overdue the time that you’re going to host this party. I wouldn’t go more than an hour and that’s at the high end,” he said.

Turnbull said some people might not be familiar or comfortable with virtual conditions like others are.

“Try to acknowledge those concerns in advance so maybe having a pre-conversation with anyone present at the party and ask how comfortable they are in a virtual environment,” she said.

Less people leads to less problems with trying to talk over one person and interruption between conversations due to the experience of lag, said Johansen.

“You don’t want too many people because the more people you start adding, the more people are going to talk over each other and it becomes too hard to understand what’s going on and there’s always a little bit of lag so somebody could start talking without others knowing,” he said.

Canubida said she’s glad she chose to spend her birthday the way she did and to take action even when the odds don’t seem favorable.

“I recommend this because someone once told me you make lemonade out of the lemons you were given. I was given a screen and I had the choice on how to use that electronic device,” she said.