In case you didn’t find your “quarantine dream birthday” in our last list, don’t fret! We’ve got plenty more ideas to share, and they’re perfect for birthday boys and girls of any age.
In our last post, we shared ideas to make your coronavirus birthday more creative and fun at any age—from good-old Zoom parties to celebrity video shoutouts to family birthday cake bake-offs.
We’re all hoping for a quick and effective rollout of vaccines that will make these ideas unnecessary…but until then, here are 10 more ways to make your anything-but-normal, socially distanced COVID birthday just a little bit better.
Did you know that in some parts of the country, you can now rent an entire theater for as little as a hundred bucks? Even massive theater chains are struggling to make ends meet after 2020, so you’ve got a unique opportunity to support a local institution while treating yourself to a luxury that might ordinarily feel more than a little absurd.
The best thing about renting an entire theater for a COVID birthday party is that you can invite some guests and still maintain a safe social distance. Try to be thoughtful about it, though—only invite a few people and be sure to wear masks at all times.
Tip: Keep in mind that some friends or family members will still decline your invitation due to COVID, even with strict social distancing in place. That’s completely understandable and does not mean that they don’t care about your birthday! Try to remember that we all have our own levels of comfort and that you can accept their well wishes from afar, regardless of whether you agree with their boundaries.
If it’s in your budget, you could take a little staycation by renting a nearby cabin, cottage, or airstream trailer. You’ll have to check whether this is currently safe and doable in your local area, but if it is, a little change of scenery can be a birthday lifesaver—especially after a few too many months of staying at home more than usual.
For kids: Recreate that classic summer camp feel with scary stories at night, s’mores by the fire (or indoor stovetop), and deep-in-the-woods scavenger hunts. For adults: Turn the cabin weekend into a retreat based on your loved one’s favorite activities. Maybe it’s an active hiking and yoga getaway, a sit-and-do-nothing movie marathon, or a romantic weekend of reading and journaling.
If you can’t rent a theater or if you just prefer the comfort of your own sofa and PJs, set up a Netflix watch party instead! Apps like Teleparty (previously called Netflix Party) allow you to sync any streamed movie with friends and family, so you’re all watching together at the exact same time.
It’s not quuuuuuite the same as an actual IRL movie party…but we’re all settling for a little “second best” this year, aren’t we? Make the party more fun by having a movie snack pack delivered from the grocery store to attendees’ homes.
Part of the bummer of a COVID birthday is feeling alone—but the truth is that none of us are alone. You can show the birthday boy or girl some extra support during this challenging time by asking their internet communities to send a card, email, or message!
If possible, get in touch with some of their friends on whatever social media platform they use most, whether it’s a hobby group on Facebook, a particular subreddit they love, or maybe some of their online game buddies on Twitch, Xbox, or another platform. If they’re friendly with colleagues who they are no longer seeing in person (due to working from home), you could also reach out to their work peeps for some birthday love.
You probably won’t get a card from everyone you ask, but many people would be happy to drop a quick note. Some of these requests even go viral, ending up with hundreds or thousands of birthday wishes from friends and strangers across the internet.
Tip: Make it easy for everyone by suggesting a specific means of sending their birthday wishes. Maybe it’s a short note by email or text, or a DM on a certain social media channel.
We can’t exactly escape the “stay at home” mentality, so why not lean into it? Go all out by planning a couch potato birthday full of awesome do-nothing activities. Get in touch with your inner child and do all the sleepover things you loved 20, 30, or 40 years ago:
Make it your COVID birthday goal to do as little as possible. Turn off the news, put your social media away, and truly enjoy the gift of having nothing to do and nothing to worry about for just one day.
Tip: If you’ve got a little one in the house, you already know this: most young kids probably have a little too much energy to appreciate a day of lounging, so this may not be the best idea for the under-10 crowd. (But it can be a great gift to a tired mom or dad!)
Another terrific option for virtual birthday parties is online gaming, and of course there are hundreds of options out there. (One silver lining is that more and more at-home entertainment options are coming to market the longer this COVID mess goes on.)
Some of the most popular online games of 2020 have probably been Jackbox Games for social games and Tabletop Simulator for board games—but there’s another hidden gem you may not have tried: the Internet Archive’s Internet Arcade. This is a free library of classic arcade games from the 70s and 80s, all re-created to be played directly from your internet browser.
This is another COVID birthday idea that’s probably better for adults than kids—but if you have kids at home, they can certainly help with the preparation! Try some of these “kid-safe” recipes so that everyone can participate in serving mom or dad’s birthday breakfast in bed.
If you don’t have kids to include in the process, then you can make things even ornate and involved. Here are a few ideas:
Insert the birthday boy or girl’s favorite food or drink in the blank above! It might take a little extra planning depending on what kind of tasting you want to host (i.e. you may need to do some googling around to find sufficient delivery options), but this can be a really fun way to make a stuck-at-home COVID birthday feel fancy.
To reduce the planning you have to do, check with local establishments like bakeries and brewpubs. They may offer a pre-made sampler or some kind of assorted platter that perfectly fits the bill.
One great thing about art is that it can be enjoyed from a safe social distance—especially music! Look around your local area to see if you can hire someone to add a special touch to your birthday celebration.
For example, a singer could sing happy birthday and play some tunes from your front yard, getting your entire neighborhood block into the birthday spirit. If the birthday girl or boy likes art, you could possibly book a local chalk artist to create a one-of-a-kind birthday mural on your driveway or sidewalk. (Kids can join by drawing their own chalk creation at the same time!)
Costumes aren’t just for Halloween! Adding a costumed element to a birthday party can be especially fun for kids—and for kids at heart, too. You can add a costumed element to your small household party or to your virtual birthday party, giving everyone something extra to look forward to.
If you’re doing the costume party via Zoom, check out our birthday backgrounds to finish the look.
This last idea might sound odd…but hear us out. It’s safe to say that we’re all disappointed in the year that was 2020, and most of us could use a little escapism. Pretending that everything is normal won’t work and will probably make us feel worse—especially for a day like a birthday, which is supposed to be special.
Instead of keeping all these negative feelings in, consider sharing them with your closest loved ones. As part of your big birthday event, you could even dedicate some time to dreaming: “What would I be doing for my birthday if COVID weren’t a thing?”
Start small with the obvious stuff like going out to eat or meeting up with friends for a birthday beer, and then build up to more grandiose adventures. Get ridiculous with your ideas; the more absurd, the better! Maybe you’d go for a birthday road trip, or you’d have a huge getaway with all your closest friends. Maybe you’d rent a cabin and spend all week fishing, BBQing, and drinking. If you’re doing this exercise with a kid, then maybe your kid would invite every person from school to a huge pool party with a bounce house, go-karts, and cotton candy stands.
Obviously, some of these ideas will be too absurd to use, but some of them won’t! Take notes about your non-COVID birthday dreams and talk about how you might realistically incorporate them into next year’s birthday. Spending a little time dreaming can be a nice release—just try not to get too bogged down in all the things you wish you could do.