How I Created My Own 22nd Birthday Bash During The Quarantine

I admit I was looking very much for celebrating my 22nd birthday. My 21st birthday came at a rough patch in my life, so  22 looked to be shining gold for me. I finally felt solid with my college friends and I could fully celebrate this time around. I loved throwing a birthday event where everyone could have fun. I also liked doing it for the simple fact it feels really nice to have your friends celebrate you. Sadly, though, my 22nd Birthday Bash never happened because the COVID-19 Stay At Home Order was still in place.  Or did it?

I must admit I was kinda in denial about having my birthday during quarantine until my best friend texted me, about a week before my birthday, to remind me, and ask what gift I wanted.  I thought to myself, damn, I never planned my birthday bash.  Then, I thought, well, everything else is on Zoom, why not try a Zoom Birthday Bash?  I quickly realized I could not mix friend groups, as people may find it less fun to be with people they don’t know--or even like--and too big a group feels more like a professor’s lecture class.  So, I split three friend groups and planned three different days for Zoom Birthday Bashes. 

Smirnoff Vodka

The night before my birth date, my friends threw a surprise Zoom Dance Marathon for another friend who was sad about it getting canceled this quarter.  At 10 pm, during the Zoom Dance Marathon, my friend brought up, my birthday was at midnight. Those who could stay up stayed up with me to celebrate my 22nd birthday and planned on blasting Taylor Swift’s 22. Just as the twelve chimes were finishing, my roommate came in and “ICED” me, so I chugged the little Smirnoff bottle, which is a “tradition” for my roommates and me to do in our apartment for birthdays.  

On the day of my birthday, other than completing preparations for my dorm-floor-friend Zoom Birthday Bash, I decided to treat myself with a burrito from Tacos Tu Madre, which was, of course, delicious. I also treated myself to some ice cream from Trader Joes instead of a traditional birthday cake. 

row of balloons

The Zoom Birthday Bashes I did with the two, separate groups of UCLA friends went really well. We talked and played online games together, and it felt more connected than a single Facetime.  I saw my friends’ pets, for those friends who have stayed home and did not return to UCLA--and one of my friend’s mom said “Happy Birthday” to me, which was really sweet.

powerpoint party

My last Zoom Birthday Bash was a lot of fun because it had a PowerPoint theme. All my childhood friends made PowerPoints, and the idea was each of us had to present another person’s PowerPoint during the Zoom party. It was very entertaining since all my friends from Poway are creative and funny as hell. Some of my favorites were: “Why do mosquitoes like cheese?” “Male Characters Who Shouldn’t Be Attractive, But Are For Some Reason???” and “Would Gwen Survive a Horror Movie?” Um, you have to know Gwen.  Anyway, I highly recommend doing a theme for a Zoom party because it is a project one works on before the party, and shares during the party, which is an instant chat creator.  As with most art-making, it makes us feel like time, and structure, no longer exist.

Honestly, though, this is never how I imagined I would celebrate reaching the age of 22--but I had a great birthday experience. I was able to connect with many of my friends over Zoom and had great conversations, and had a lot of fun together, even though we could not be physically together. All of that being said, I am likely to plan a physically present party to celebrate overcoming this pandemic. I also realized, however, how important it is to continually remind myself how I had a privilege to have had a birthday party at all during this pandemic, how I relied on essential workers at restaurants and grocery stores to indulge myself on the day of my birthday, and how lucky I am to have great friends who clicked on their computers to celebrate my birthday with me.