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Even More COVID-Safe Birthday Ideas for Kids and Adults

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.

1. Rent your own theater.

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.

2. Do a cabin weekend.

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.

3. Host a coordinated watch party.

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.

4. Get the internet involved.

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.

5. Have a couch potato day.

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:

  • Video game marathon
  • Movie marathon
  • Messy arts and crafts
  • Pillow fort and/or fight
  • Board games
  • Puzzles
  • Popcorn, ice cream, and candy
  • Pizza for delivery

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!)

6. Head to the online arcade.

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.

  • For kids: If your kids enjoy modern video games or are into the Stranger Things aesthetic, then this can be a super-fun way to show them how the world used to look. You can make it even more fun by turning your house into a full 80s-style arcade—with hot dogs, cotton candy, and maybe even some nerf laser tag or sidewalk rollerskating.
  • For adults: Adults of a certain age will need very little convincing to take a swing at classic games like Astro Blaster, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Atomic Boy. There’s no time like a birthday for childhood nostalgia!

7. Have breakfast in bed.

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:

  • Make it light and romantic with homemade heart-shaped waffles, freshly cut fruit, and fresh-squeezed mimosas. Keep it simple by preparing everything the day before and just popping it into the oven to re-heat. Breakfast casseroles, muffins, breakfast taco bars, and pound cakes all work well.
  • If you’re an experienced hand in the kitchen, re-create a classic American breakfast or perhaps a full English breakfast.
  • For those who hate to cook, order a breakfast from your favorite local spot and spend the morning binging on TV shows.

8. Host an at-home _____ tasting.

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.

  • For kids: Sweet treats are an awesome option for a kid-friendly tasting event. Think ice cream, cookies, candies…anything sweet! To make it even more exciting for a kid, you could turn the event into a blind taste test, having them guess the flavor and winning prizes for getting it right.
  • For adults: Unsurprisingly, some of the best tasting events for adults include adult beverages: whiskey, wine, beer, or craft liquors. But you could also do a cake tasting or an assortment of snacks from around the world.

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.

9. Hire some local artists.

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!)

10. Make it a costume party.

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.

  • For kids: Kids love being imaginative, and you can easily extend the costume theme by turning it into a small play or story time. You could even create a birthday TV show by dressing up and filming it on your phone!
  • For adults: It’s all about picking the right theme. You could go with something classic like The Office or Star Wars (perfect for fans of The Mandalorian), or you could build on the birthday theme itself by going for the 80s look of 16 Candles or the early 2000s vibe of 13 Going on 30.

If you’re doing the costume party via Zoom, check out our birthday backgrounds to finish the look.

Bonus Idea: Imagine the Most Amazing Non-COVID Birthday Party

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.

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