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How a North Houston mom threw a virtual video game birthday party for her 12-year-old son

Thomas Diggs, with his mom, sister Zaccaria, and party guests (on ZOOM).
Thomas Diggs, with his mom, sister Zaccaria, and party guests (on ZOOM). (Courtesy of April Diggs)

HOUSTON – 12-year-old Marshall Diggs was hoping to celebrate his birthday surrounded by his family and friends this year, but things changed when social distancing protocols were in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, that still did not stop April Diggs, Marshall’s mother, from throwing a memorable birthday party.

“I wanted his day to be special because I get to be mushy and he lets me do it,” said Diggs “but also, God has blessed us to come from a loving and supportive family who loves to celebrate together as well as pray together through hard times.”

Marshall is a video gamer with a love for recreational sports and math. Initially his mother wanted Marshall’s friends to have a video game party, but they don’t share the same consoles.

April Diggs delivered party packages to family and friends in the Houston area to celebrate 12-year-old Marshall Diggs on his birthday.
April Diggs delivered party packages to family and friends in the Houston area to celebrate 12-year-old Marshall Diggs on his birthday. (April Diggs)

Diggs began to do her research on virtual birthday parties.

Using Zoom to bring party guests to Marshall’s birthday party, Diggs also found Air Console, which is a virtual game console where gamers can virtually play console games together by using a browser and smartphone. She and Marshall played Kahoot as a mother/son function at her local church.

“I knew I wanted them to still be able to eat together, have party favors, and still be able to talk to one another,” she said, “but most importantly, I wanted them to still be able to eat cake.”

To encourage her friends and family to participate, she, Marshall, and her daughter, Zaccaria also created secret agent-themed party packages filled with lunchables, drinks, cupcakes and party favors. Each package were sanitized, and contained an invitation with instructions on how to “virtually” attend the party.

They drove all over Houston to drop off the packages to each guest’s door step, giving off the “secret agent” vibe.

“Once we were finished planning everything, he would come up to me everyday and say, ‘I wish my birthday was today,'" said Diggs, I’ve never seen him this excited about his birthday."

On the day of the virtual party, 17 friends and family members logged on to Zoom to sing “Happy Birthday” to Marshall, playing video games virtually. The group grew as the parents of their cousins and friends joined to play games such as charades.

In the end, Marshall loved it.

“God has blessed us to come from a loving and supportive family who loves to celebrate together as well as pray together through hard times," said Diggs.