- Because of social distancing restrictions, many families have had to either cancel big events or find creative ways to celebrate without being together in person with friends and family.
- Many young children, who may not understand why staying home is crucial, are having a hard time accepting that they have to miss out on special events, especially traditional birthday parties.
- To enable their children to celebrate their birthdays in a special way, many parents are organizing involved virtual parties – that cost as much as $300 – complete with magicians, artists, and interactive games.
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When nonessential businesses started shutting down in New Jersey in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Nikki Sausen, who hosts art parties for children, figured she would be out of work for a while, too.
But when requests for virtual birthday parties started pouring in, Sausen realized that with some adjustments, she could still continue to help children celebrate their big days.
“We’re working around the clock because we have to change everything, from the website to recommended materials, to my retainer letter,” Sausen said. “There’s a lot going on.”
Entertainers are finding ways to still host fun and engaging virtual birthday parties
So far, Sausen has hosted four birthday parties online. The most recent one was for a 9-year-old girl who lives in Teaneck, New Jersey, and 40 other children, which included two from Israel and one from Finland. Together, they painted a spring scene of cherry blossom trees.
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HAPPY 9th Birthday Hadassah!! You #are AMAZING!!! @carpool_mom This was virtually the BEST party ever!!!! Thank you @zoom.us and @apple for making this a reality!! #paintwithmetheplacetobe Give yourselves a gift…have fun, get creative! Follow @paintwithmeinc and MEET YOUR INNER ARTIST!! It’s always a good time to paint!🎨 Wow, that was fun! Zoom PAINT WITH ME! events posted daily! Get your supplies and get ready to have fun! #paint #paintparty #paintnight #paintnite #zoom #apple #itsalwaysagoodtimetopaint #meetyourinnerartist
Sausen also hired a co-host, who showcased the children’s work during the party and made sure no one was struggling to keep up.
“It’s really fun for kids because they get to see their friends in a different way than they do when they’re using Zoom for school,” Sausen said.
As the coronavirus continues to spread, Americans have been taking more drastic quarantining efforts to slow down the disease’s transmission. For children, that means no school, playdates, playgrounds, or parties. Some parents have said that losing out on these experiences has been particularly difficult for younger children, who can’t yet grasp why staying home is so important.
Parents are using Zoom, and other apps, so guests can partake in the remote events
To ease their disappointment, and mark birthdays in an exciting way, many parents are turning to hosting elaborate virtual birthday parties, using online apps – such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts as venues. Magicians, dancers, puppeteers, and artists are adapting to the new platforms to enable children to have fun together, even while they’re apart.
The concept comes with some perks for everyone involved. Parents can hire an entertainer who lives in another city, and entertainers now have an entirely new source of business. They’re able to still charge their standard fees without having to leave their homes.
A virtual birthday party an cost anywhere from $150 to $300
Sausen’s rate starts at $300 for 10 screens. She also offers “open events,” which anyone can join with friends and cost $15 a screen.
Onit Zisserman, a Philadelphia preschool teacher, charges $150 for 40 minutes of activities. Evan Paquette, a magician based in Westchester, New York, fetches $215 for a virtual show that’s between 30 and 50 minutes.
Paquette hosted five remote birthday parties last month and he’s booked for several more.
The magician recently organized a Harry Potter-themed birthday party for a 10-year-old girl in New York City and 14 of her friends.
Paquette said he’s had to adjust about half of his usual routine and is only doing visual tricks, like making objects float and disappear and reappear. Paquette said the kids’ favorite part of his most recent show was when he made a Hogwarts express appear.
Chris Palmieri, a New York City-based puppeteer, charges $100 for a 30-minute show party and said he feels lucky that his craft translates well online.
“The kids love it,” he said.
Parents say their kids couldn’t help but to feel let down when – on top of everything else – they learned that they could only have a virtual pasrty.
“She was also sad that school was closed and that she couldn’t hang out with her friends,” Sylvia Fallas told Insider of her daughter Betty, who had to cancel her tea party celebration. “The whole thing all came crashing down at once.”
Fallas ended up hiring Zisserman to lead the children in games for about 30 of her daughter’s guests.
The teacher had asked each child to bring an object that reminded them of the birthday girl, and share what they appreciate about Betty.
“These Zoom parties are meaningful,” Zisserman said. “It’s all about celebrating somebody’s life.”
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