Virtual Parties

This past weekend was super-busy for this crazy zoo house! My brother and his wife are expecting a baby in a few weeks and we are all so excited about the addition of a new little one to our family. They live quite a distance from us back out on the east coast.

I reached out to my sister-in-law about the possibility of doing a baby shower for her (since I have some knowledge of zoom and had a plan of what that could look like) and she agreed. It has to be hard at this time when some in-person celebrations that would normally be so joyous and exciting are just off the table for so many. So this past weekend was the weekend and we did it– a small Zoom Baby Shower. Now I can cross that off of my life list–LOL!

Turns out, I am uniquely and strangely qualified for doing this kind of party. In my current work, I do a lot of facilitating of virtual conversations, and my first job ever (back when I was a teenager) I worked at a resort and led all kinds of games.

Let me just take a minute to tell you about this crazy job that I had. Picture it– a beautifully appointed resort situated in the gorgeous Pocono Mountains that was hugely popular back in 1970. Fast forward 25 years– that is when I worked at the resort. To say it was outdated, was a bit of an understatement. It was the cheesy kind of resort that had tri-colored carpets and heart shaped beds with mirrors on the ceiling. Back then, it was my job to help seat people in the morning and tell them about all the activities I would be running for the day. I ran billiards tournaments, board games adapted to big groups, trivia, pool parties and then in the evening, I changed into an evening gown and was the emcee for the band and ran games and lip-synch contests during their breaks. I had a whole lip synch routine worked out to the soundtrack of Fame. And, even better, I was paid waaaay over the $5 minimum wage at the time…to the tune of $8 an hour– which was big bucks for a teenager back then.

So, for this virtual party– I did bring all of my conversational and emcee knowledge to the table! All in all, it was pretty successful and so I thought I would share with you what I did in case anyone is looking to do a virtual baby shower in the midst of this pandemic for anyone they love!

There were a couple of things I was looking for to make sure that it could be successful.

  1. I wanted to make sure that there was some facilitated conversation– because there is nothing worse than getting on a Zoom call with a bunch of people and just staring at each other without a plan.
  2. I wanted to use videos because that would be a cool way to use the resources available to me and still be able to do some of the traditional pieces but with a technological spin.
  3. I wanted to make certain to keep the time frame short because after and how and a half– people are just zoomed out.

With those guidelines in mind, I set out to create a template. The template was set around the four iMovie videos that I created. The first video was a Movie Trailer that is super-easy and quick to create in iMovie (called Fairytale). It requires a bunch of pictures of the couple (which I mostly got from their wedding pictures and pictures on Facebook and Instagram. The second video, was a pregnancy video. The mom-to-be is a fantastic photographer and did a great job of taking pictures of her growing belly during the pregnancy. For the third video, I requested 10 (but received 20) baby photos of each of them and created a quick baby photo video. It is always so hard to choose from those sweet little baby photos– and in my experience everyone loves looking at babies! Finally, the last video took the most time. I asked people to provide me with a 10 second video of some Advice– it could be parenting advice from your own experience, or something that you thought was important when you were growing up.

Then, I did some research into games. I ordered a bunch of cute pre-prepared games on Etsy and went through them carefully to see which ones could be done in a group format rather than individually. The key was to make certain that the games were engaging for a group and not just the individual. I also just wanted to make certain that I could pull up the game on the screen and anyone who forgot to print it out would still be able to play.

We decided on a Disney game that matched parent to child, a Who Knows Mommy Best? game that asked the mom-to-be lots of questions, a Baby Traits game– which traits did Mom want the baby to have from each partner and finally an Emoji Pictionary.

Format of the Shower

  1. Introductions– I gave an overview of Zoom Etiquette and asked people to introduce themselves, how they knew the mom-to-be and to tell a sweet story about the mom-to-be. Then I started us out by going first and letting people collect their thoughts. I asked that when a person is finished that she pass to another person on the screen (and I was ready to jump in and help that along if someone forgot).
  2. Fairy Tale Video– I introduced the trailer by explaining that we had all been to the long-awaited Fairy tale wedding and that I was excited to see the new little princess. Then I showed the movie I created using a share screen in zoom. After the video, I paired this with the “Disney Character” matching game. I gave people a couple of minutes to try to match the Disney character and parents and then went over it school style…any guesses for number one?
  3. Pregnancy Video– To introduce this video, I talked about what an amazing photographer the mom-to-be is and how we are so lucky that she has been part of chronicling our lives. She also has taken great photos of the new baby’s start. I followed this video with the game “Who Knows Mommy Best?” I did a little prep work on the front end asking her to fill out the answers ahead of time on a piece of paper for a “game show effect.” One minor trouble we had that I did not anticipate is that you cannot see a white paper when you are using a virtual background! For this game, I put the spotlight on the mom-to-be so that everyone could see her answer cards. Again, I ran this game like a game show with popcorn style answers. At the end of the game, I asked who had all the questions right?
  4. Baby Video– As a homeschooling mom, I am always looking for opportunities for my children to have a chance to do some public speaking. Since we are not out in public much these last few months, I asked her if she would be willing to introduce the next video. I thought it would change it up a bit to have another person speaking and I liked the idea of a child introducing this one. My daughter told a story about how she was curious who the baby would look like and so why don’t we look back and what her Uncle and Aunt looked like when they were babies? Then we showed the video. After the video, we played the “Baby Traits” game. In this game, there were baby traits listed and you had to circle whether the mom to be wanted Dad’s trait or Mom’s trait in the baby. I had people do a show of hands to vote and then had the mom-to-be share her answer with the group.
  5. Advice Video– For this video, I prefaced with a story from my own personal experience of being pregnant. I noticed that when I am pregnant people come up to me from all over and give me advice– most of which is unsolicited. However, advice from trusted family and friends is truly valuable and a wonderful gift for a new mom. When I edited this video together, I tried to break up longer videos into parts, alternate between written advice on slides (for which I did a voiceover) and video advice. I think that plus a musical background kept the video going. Then, we did the Emoji Pictionary game– which was the most fun. It was a series of Emojis that created a children’s book title. They were fun to guess and it kept the shower family friendly and engaged some of the children that had joined in.
  6. Closing Round– I ended the shower with a closing round asking people to close with either words of encouragement and well-wishes for the mom-to-be or some reasons why you think she would be a great mom.

These are some unprecedented times and it breaks my heart that it is difficult for families to get together. I hope that this outline for how I pulled this baby shower together helps someone who was struggling with how to make it happen for someone else. While it wasn’t a typical shower, I think everyone had fun and it allowed people from all over the country in different time zones to be able to participate and share love and good wishes for the mamma-to-be. Good luck with your planning!

What virtual events have you tried to pull off during this unusual time?

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