Family Parties: 2.0

13 Mar

Aside from the now outdated use of the phrase 2.0 to describe anything inovative, today was a wonderful use of social media and technology to bring a 3 year old’s birthday party to a whole new level of family interactions.

After moving 3000 miles across the country to the Bay Area everyone in the family knew that holidays and celebrations would be a little bit different. It just wasn’t logistically possible for every family member in the same location for each and every persons birthday and the borderline excessive number of holidays we have. For 7 years now we have been experimenting with different methods of sharing these special occaisions and I think today we finally got it right.

From the get-go this was a tech-savvy event. Evites were used instead of the traditional mail method, while this was wonderfully efficient and a great way to provide a sense of inclusion to family members that I know wouldn’t be able to make it, there are downsides as well. Many people don’t check email as frequently as some of us do and by the time they see the Evite its just one more suspect message in the sea of inbox spam. Also, I realized there are a number of people I wanted to invite that I don’t communicate with by email (or even facebook). People like neighbors and a couple of elderly relatives had to be invited by phone. Next time I’ll opt for a hybrid Evite/Mail Invite option.

The key to the party inclusion came with google video chat. A quick positioning of a laptop and click of the icon connected the party in California with the grandparents in Indiana. We opted to leave the camera rolling for the whole event which turned out to be great fun. Every so often someone had a quick conversation with the camera and then went about their business again, much like a real party – just in two locations.

The final touch of tech on this party was the wrap-up.  When all was said and done numerous pictures were ready to be shared with family, friends and other parents (everyone wants pics of their kids). Pics went from the phone up to facebook and were ready to be shared within 15min of the party ending. This led to a great amount of discussion from everyone that was at the party as well as all the family and friends who were unable to make it.

So maybe a few more improvements could be made but all in all this was the best social media – interactive – video cast, kids party any of us had experienced yet. For next year… only the imagination limits the possibilities.

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