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  • Writer's pictureJasmine Norwood-Dioulo

Savvy turns 2 in Tokyo while social distancing? International virtual birthday party it is!

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

Our angel babe, Savvanah Rose, turned two in April! Two years of being her mama. Two years of laughs, and lessons, sleepless nights and epic kitchen dance parties. Two years with the little powerhouse who has shown Julian and I so much about ourselves, our purpose, our impact.

Savvy leads us in prayer every night at the dinner table by reaching for our hands and saying, "Amen! Amen!" She gently lifts her hand to her chest as if she's clenching her pearls, and says, "Oh scu me!" after she burps, and she counts to 10 in English, asks for water in Spanish, and answers the phone in Japanese. I mean, seriously!!! Who is she?!! And how in the world did we ever get so blessed to do this life with her?!

Of course, her birthday this year fell in the middle of a pandemic. So no travels, no birthday parties with friends, no bakeries to get a fancy cake from, and no guarantee her gifts would make it to Tokyo in time for her big day, or make it here at all, for that matter.

My mama-heart couldn't take it.

But then I had a come to Jesus talk with myself. I said self, what are these first world problems you're whining about!? Pull it together and get ready to plan a virtual party for your baby girl.

The day before Tokyo went received a social distancing, self-quarantine request, Hubs made a mad dash to the store and bought all the things for me to bake Sav a birthday cake. While he was at the store, I was texting him a mile a minute, "What about balloons in this color, and a sign in that color, oh and please don't forget the cream cheese frosting!" He was Facetiming me -- showing me options, we were taking care of business!

The rest of Tokyo was stocking up on toilet paper, and I was just like, "Okay, but do we have enough streamers!?"

We ended up throwing a Facebook Birthday Party for Savvy, and it was the BEST.

Now, in case any of you are trying to think of a good way to celebrate a major life event during this unprecedented time, here's what I did:

1. Created a Facebook event -- I chose FB because I wanted to use a platform that would allow people to log in and celebrate Sav any time, before, during, or after her birthday. Being that we live in Tokyo, we have family and friends on the east and west coasts in the US, family in Africa, and friends in other countries, I thought doing a "live party" on Zoom, Facetime, Skype -- any of those host sites -- would be really challenging with all of our different zones.

Plus, who am I kidding? A live Zoom party with a bunch of toddlers would basically be a shit show. ha

2. Sent Invites -- via Facebook. This was tricky and a little limiting in some cases because of course, not everyone is on Facebook, or checks FB regularly, but it did allow us to reach as many people as we could in a short period of time.

3. Asked for Videos/Pics instead of Gifts -- In the Facebook event I asked everyone to please post a video message for Savvy or post pictures of their favorite memories with her

4. The night before her birthday and virtual party, we tucked Sav in early, and I got busy in the kitchen baking her gluten-free cake. Please don't be fooled by the pretty pictures, I DID NOT KNOW WHAT I WAS DOING.

I borrowed pans from my girl, Anita (Hey girl hey!), poured a glass of wine, and started mixing! That said, the cake turned out toooooo good. I'll post the recipe and deets in a separate post and link it here once its live!

5. Hubs and I blew up a bunch of balloons, put up streamers, and laid out colorful table cloths.

6. Then we ran downstairs and put together a surprise play space (read: walk-in closet turned playroom #TokyoLiving) in our basement!

The next morning (Birthday day!!) when we woke up, friends + fam had already started uploading videos and pictures for Sav! My heart melted.

We took Sav down to the dining room, turned balllon/birhtday wonderland -- and her reaction was just precious.

7. Thankfully, Hubs caught everything on cam and I was able to upload it to our FB event for everyone to share in the fun! (This is how we went about the day, documenting everything we were doing with her and then uploading it to the FB event in real-time)

Cake all day, dance parties in a sea of balloons, daddy/daughter karaoke, a new play area, and birthday videos and pictures posted in the FB event from some of the most incredible people!

It was perfect.

And Savvy's little face just lit up when she saw the video messages. "Be back! Be back!" she exclaimed. Meaning, "Play it again! Show me again!"

*Insider - Tip: If you're planning to celebrate your toddler this way, I highly recommend making yourself an extra cup of coffee that day. By the time Sav went down for a nap, I was BEAT. It felt like we really had 30 something (amazing) people at our house all morning! haha

That said, here we are weeks later, still in self-quarantine -- and what a treasure it is to be able to go back to Sav's Bday FB event and watchrh the videos from family. I mean people were sending her videos and pictures from all over the world!! My heart is still overflowing with gratitude. God is truly blessing our girl with the most remarkable village.

What better gift?

If you have any questions about how we made this work please don't hesitate to reach out! Hey, maybe I'll add Virtual Toddler Party Planner to my quarantine resume. Ha

Love Always.


*professional pictures taken by my new #momfriend :-) the super sweet and talented, Tokyo-based photographer, Megan Leigh Acosta:


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