Zoey's Shelter-In-Place Fourth Birthday Party
Over the last couple years I’ve shared several posts concerning my daughters’ birthday parties including sensory activities at Zoey’s second birthday party, Ada’s fourth birthday science-themed party, Zoey’s orange DUPLO®/LEGO® themed party last year, the dinosaur dig we held for Ada, and finally the birthday signs I made them for our front door during their birthday month. When 2020 started I expected this summer to be similar, but with Coronavirus keeping us apart from our friends Zoey’s party became different as we turned to Zoom to host the party rather than in-person in our home. I tried to find ideas online for toddler video conferencing parties but my results seemed skewed towards older kids as they mentioned using chat functions and/or online gaming platforms. Instead I came up with this for Zoey’s party and, although it wasn’t perfect, I do want to share what we did in case some, or all of it, might help you plan your socially distanced party.
Both of my daughters love Frozen so I wasn’t surprised when, leading up to Zoey’s birthday, whenever I asked what she wanted to do she told me she wanted Frozen LEGO® which, unfortunately, didn’t seem to be an easy Zoom party idea. Over the last month or so she’s been repeatedly telling us that “She’s the one without ice powers. Whose the one without ice powers?” and then we’d have to tell Zoey that she’s Anna; which happened way more frequently than “the one with ice powers” so we knew Anna was her favorite. I took Zoey’s idea into account and decided to go with the ever popular Frozen theme for our party. I next hopped online, about a month before her party, and after reading over multiple virtual-Princess themed party websites decided to schedule through Amazing Fairytale Parties (no affiliate). Filling in the form through the website I chose to prioritize the weekend before her birthday, without thinking about Father’s day, and picked Anna as the first option with Elsa as the runner up. Even though I messaged them in the evening they still got back to me really quickly and I felt rather pressured to decide then and there by paying and then, since we chose to host our own Zoom call, schedule the Zoom call so we could give them the information right away. Over a span of a couple hours Anna was booked and our party date was decided. Getting our first weekend, optimal time, and first choice of person booked so quickly kind of made me worried it would all fall through so I was careful not to tell Ada and Zoey about our final guest. The quick booking process combined with the lack of confirmation emails leading up to the party, they had told us there wouldn’t be any, made me over-analyze and worry as the party approached.
I wanted to create treat bags for the party guests and since I also wanted to cover my bases, in case Anna didn’t show, I decided to chose items that could also work to help the party move along. I searched online through Amazon, Etsy, and Walmart for Frozen themed items and, although I found a shop from Toronto selling adorable cardstock wands, I finally chose to settle on Walmart so I could get a wider variety of items from a single order. I started off with two packs of Melissa and Doug wands for the kids to wave during the party and then followed that up with general treat bag stuff including a Frozen favor pack, sheets of Frozen temporary tattoos, a bag of blue snowflake latex balloons, and snowflake decorated cellophane bags to hold the items. The deciding factor for Walmart was the wands and an adorable Anna accessories pack I bought for Zoey so she could match Anna. At that time I was considering making cupcakes to drop off at the guests’ houses ahead of the party so I also bought snowflake themed cupcake liners and snowflake sprinkles to go along with it. We ended up not using these so at supper, after the party, I surprised the kids by using them to plate their food.
Word of warning: I’ve had several of the jewels fall off of the crown and the scepter/wand from the Anna accessories pack so I highly recommend also getting crazy glue if you buy it. I prefer using LOCTITE super glue (no affiliate) as you can use a bit and put the lid back on for later without the glue drying out which is perfect because I’ve glued different jewels back on over four separate times in the first twenty-four hours after the party. I did not have this issue with the Melissa and Doug wands though.
Do you want to know one of the pros of using video conferencing for your birthday party? If you have a friend that moved away you can easily still invite them to the party and it doesn’t matter how far away they are. Hi Xavi! We ended up getting the Walmart order delivered just over a week before Zoey’s party which was perfect as I wanted to mail them the treat bag so they wouldn’t feel left out during the party. I still thought the bag was lacking however so Zoey and I quickly whipped up a double batch of ‘snow’ playdough by adding blue dye and glitter to our normal playdough recipe. We then divided the playdough up and put each one into it’s own sandwich bag so it would stay fresh.
At first I was planning on redoing one of our previous party ideas and baking either brownie or dyed angel food cake cupcakes so I could hand deliver them, to the guests who lived nearby, the night before or morning of the party. A week or two before; however, I randomly bought chocolate mousse from Costco and Zoey absolutely loved it. She dubbed it ‘airy poop’, which I decided not to tell anyone… until now, and later renamed it to ‘Zoey’. We decided why not and decided to have it for her party and so I returned to Costco to buy more. With Covid-19 around I figured it also made more sense as the dessert came already made, sealed, individually packed, and I could drop them off before the party without worrying about packing them up or squashing the icing. Another pro to store-bought, via a box store, meant I could text the out-of-town party guest’s mom so they could match desserts if they wanted to. Before the party started I made sure to find a couple candles and the lighter so everything was ready to light up the second Anna was ready to lead the Happy Birthday song to Zoey.
When the party ended the kids still had half of their chocolate mousse left in their cups and Ada suddenly remembered the sprinkles I had bought, and gave them at breakfast, so they may have gotten ‘snow’ sprinkles added to theirs. I hadn’t thought about the lack of lunch, since it was a video conference party, so everyone might’ve ended up with a chocolate mousse sugar rush an hour before lunch.
Since the party was through video conferencing the guests were limited to our camera range for what they could see which made cleaning and decorating way simpler. I considered hanging a banner up over the couch but figured it would be too difficult to hang and it would also need to be low enough to be in the camera’s view so would get in the way of the kids on the couch. I instead unhooked all the jackets on the wall behind the couch, tossing them hidden onto the floor, so I could hang a happy birthday banner within the camera’s view. I also had two other banners leftover from previous years, LEGO®-style, so I hung them above the kitchen table and between the two rooms for the girls. We had told Zoey multiple times about the birthday party and she had helped make the playdough a week before but I guess she didn’t fully realize the next day was her party until she came around the corner and saw the decorations. When I pointed out to Zoey that she wanted LEGO® Frozen and she was getting a Frozen party with LEGO® decorations in the kitchen she shrieked so happily. She then ended up dancing and singing the rest of the evening and when it was time for bed I thought to point out that this was her first Zoom call, as she saw so many for Ada during school, and she yelled with excitement. When Ada saw the decorations she loved the idea and instantly wanted to get to work decorating paper hearts for Zoey so I cut some out for her and she colored while Zoey sang. When the decorations were finished Ada laid them out in one spot so the next day, when Matt set up the Zoom call early, she was able to attach them onto the wall inside the visual range of the camera.
Day of the Party
The night before the party I had the girls pick their party dresses. Ada went for her big sparkly Elsa dress that my sisters gave her, and Zoey also owns, while Zoey went for her oldest peppermint swirl dress which was so adorable. The morning of the party, before Zoey woke up, I wrote her a message with chalk markers on our fridge door. After a special birthday breakfast I confirmed with Zoey what she wanted to wear and, after getting changed, I showed her the Anna accessories one by one as I did her hair for the occasion. I tried to braid her hair around the crown headband, to help it stay on, and then, after clipping the Anna braids on, wrapped Zoey’s braids around the Anna ones to help keep them secure. I used a ponytail to, slightly, hide her hair so she only had the Anna braids showing. Zoey absolutely loved them and, a day later, still won’t let Ada borrow the braids although Ada’s gotten to use the other items.
After getting Zoey’s outfit and hair ready we quickly blew up the blue snowflake balloons we bought along with some white ones we already had. I figured we could always use more balloons and technically they could count as snow; although, the kids threw off the color-scheme when they requested a couple other colored balloons. While blowing the balloons up I suddenly pictured stacking three ‘snowball’ balloons to make a snowman which ended up with me making an Olaf balloon, once I had a couple extra minutes, by grabbing a black oil-based sharpie, a white balloon, and brought up an Olaf line drawing on my phone to copy. I only made the one but the kids passed him around before the party and a couple times during. At one point Zoey even tucked him carefully between the cushions on the couch.
And it was finally time for the party to start! We chose to start the party about fifteen minutes before Anna was slated to arrive. Looking back I wish I had come up with some games or something for the kids to do together over those first fifteen minutes as I thought the kids seeing their friends would be enough, but it was hard to hear each other speak and the kids may have been shy. At one point I started playing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” picturing an epic singalong and dance party with Frozen music but Ada refused to take part, Zoey tried to dance off-screen, and I’m not sure if any kids heard it very well. Thus we were extremely excited when Amazing Fairytale Parties did come through and Anna joined the call promptly on time. Anna did amazing. She started off asking where Zoey was (I had to help Zoey lift her hand up), talked with the group, regaled the kids with the Frozen story while breaking into a couple lines of song wherever a song sequence should be, led the group in singing happy birthday to Zoey while I held up her candle-lit chocolate mousse, and then asked if there were any questions before coming up with an excuse to leave the party. Considering how hard it is for toddlers to communicate during a Zoom call I’m so glad we hired Anna so everyone could have a blast at the party.
Zoey had a blast at her party though looking at her while Anna told her story you’d think she was bored; yet, every time princess Anna sang a couple lines of a song Zoey got this little smirk of happiness on her face. After the party Zoey became Anna and we weren’t allowed to call her Zoey at all. She went back to talking about coronation parties, ice powers, her sister Elsa, and Olaf just like she was doing months ago. Several times she paused and mentioned the “other Anna in the picture” (holding her jewelry to show us) and that Anna called Zoey “Princess Zoey” and that “that was nice of her”. At one point Zoey was putting her jewelry on and I heard her say “I’m going to look as beautiful as a reindeer… for coronation day. Don’t you think I’ll look beautiful for coronation day soon? It’s going to be fun!”
Overall, I’m so glad we were able to have a party with our friends, although socially distanced, for Zoey and I’m so glad we decided to hire Anna to host it. With Ada’s birthday coming up in a couple months I’m going to keep Amazing Fairytale Parties in mind as a backup plan although I’m still hoping, maybe, our area might open up a bit more before then or maybe I’ll just come up with something else.
Have you hosted a birthday party for a toddler, or a six year old, during your shelter-in-place? If so what did you do and what would you do differently next time? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below because I, unfortunately, see this dragging on for awhile and would love more ideas. If you’re interested in my future posts, or if you want to share through social media, I also post updates on my Facebook page or Instagram account. You’re also more than welcome to join my email list located right under the search bar. If you’re on a wide screen device the signup is located in the top-left of the screen, under the purple arrow, although it’s also under this post too. I hope this helps you if you’re planning your own party and, either way, I hope that you’re having a good day.