My oldest son Jack turned 6 last week, just as the impact of the current global health crisis was becoming apparent. For the week or two before we’d gradually been scaling back his birthday celebration plans, finally canceling his friend party at a local “jumpy place,” and eventually even decided we didn’t want to put my mom’s health at risk by visiting her house either.
Despite the drastic change of plans, his birthday turned out to be fun and special. We talked with him about changing plans a bit, I don’t even think he thought much about why we didn’t have anyone but our immediate family at our house to celebrate this week.
If your little one has a birthday in the coming weeks, here are a few of suggestions to help make it special, even if you can’t celebrate in person with friends/family like you usually do.
Five tips for a successful birthday celebration — virtually!
Plan ahead as much as possible
We’ve all noticed that some goods and supplies are harder to come by than usual right now (anyone try to find TP lately?!?), and shipping times are slower than usual too. I waited until the last minute to order my son’s birthday gifts and found that several of them weren’t going to arrive at our house in time.
If you can, try to start ordering what you want a month or so ahead of time to allow plenty of shipping time. Ask friends and family to get their cards and gifts in the mail early so they will arrive on time. And if you need groceries, try to place an online or pickup order early if you don’t feel comfortable making a trip to the store right now. Those spots are harder to come by than usual right now too.
Make cake decorating a family activity
Baking the cake is something my mom or I would usually do ourselves, but this year making a cake was part of the birthday fun. I didn’t have a cake mix on hand, so we made one from scratch.
If you don’t want to bake a cake, consider ordering a cookie or cupcake decorating kit from a local business. You’ll have all the supplies you need to do the fun part (decorating) at home! Right now Créme Cupcake, Molly’s Cupcakes, and ChaCha’s Confections are offering kits for delivery or pickup. Plan to offer at least 24 hours notice if you want to use this option!
Dig out decorations
If you’re like me, you’ve got a stash of leftover party decorations from every single party you’ve ever planned or hosted. Dig out that box or bin and make your house look as festive as possible.
We hung up several birthday banners and made a banner of balloons too. I went ahead and used the decorations I had ordered for his in-person party and hung those up too. I decorated after my son went to bed so he woke up to a house full of decorations to make the day feel special!
Have a birthday present scavenger hunt
Instead of opening all the birthday presents at the end of the evening like usual, I wrapped everything we had on hand and hid them throughout the house, allowing my kiddo to find/open his gifts throughout the day. He had a lot of fun finding his gifts, and had plenty of time to focus on his new toy/item before moving onto something else. It was a great way to pass time and keep the day feeling fun and special.
Plan a virtual birthday party
Since we couldn’t celebrate in person, I created a FB messenger group with all our friends/family who would like to celebrate with us. I sent a few messages to let them know the plan, and when it was “party time” I hit the call button so we could all have a video chat together.
We sang happy birthday while lighting the candles and serving cake, we watched the birthday boy open a few presents, and everyone had a blast with the special faces, filters, and effects.
Zoom is another option for a video chat and the Houseparty app is also gaining in popularity right now.
Ask people to shower your kiddo with videos
You can also invite friends/family to send your birthday boy or girl a special birthday video message. If you’re close with your neighbors or have family in town, you could invite them to come to your house and sing or share a special birthday message through a window or glass storm door without breaking the #socialdistancing rule!
Local businesses and restaurants are being impacted by this public health crisis. Lots of local restaurants are offering takeout and would greatly appreciate it if you can splurge on takeout for your birthday celebration.
Check out the “Des Moines Food Options amid COIVD-19” group on Facebook for ideas of what restaurants are open and who is offering specials. Some local shops (like Ephemera, Artfull, and Glazed Expressions) have moved their shops online or are offering at-home craft and art kits that would make a wonderful birthday activity or present.