Almost every single person on the planet has had—or is now planning to have—a COVID birthday.
Although a COVID birthday can’t really be “normal” in any sense of the word, there are ways to make a COVID-safe birthday more fun and more memorable. Check out the 15 quarantine birthday ideas below, with added tips for making your celebration more kid- or adult-friendly as needed.
And let us be the first to say: “Happy birthday!”
We’ll put this one first since it’s pretty much the birthday standby at this point. If you’re planning for a party over Zoom, Houseparty, Skype, Discord, or another of the many group video apps, here are a few tips to make it extra fun:
Tip: If it’s a kid’s birthday party, consider having a dress-up theme to make it even more special. Again, try to keep any suggestions low-key so that your guests don’t have to worry about somehow getting incredible costumes during coronavirus.
Have you ever heard of Cameo? This website lets you request video shoutouts from all kinds of celebrities. Whether you’re hosting a virtual COVID birthday party or just celebrating together with your household, you can add a game-changing surprise by having a favorite celebrity say a few (taped) words.
Tip: The prices vary a lot, but overall they’re surprisingly affordable. Just make sure that you send in your booking request a week or two in advance to make sure your message is ready in time.
Even though you may not be going out for the big birthday bash, you can still create a festive spirit by changing things up outside! Adding some yard décor can offer a little extra birthday fun for everyone on your street, creating a small sense of community during an otherwise isolated birthday year.
Most of us would love to go out to eat for a big birthday dinner, but it just isn’t an option at this point in time. So why not bring the restaurant to you?
Try searching online for a local food truck that can set up shop outside your home with proper social distancing in place. If you live in a large-enough metro area, you might even be able to book a food truck through a company like Roaming Hunger.
Whether it’s Hawaiian shaved ice, K-BBQ tacos, or veggie sliders, a food truck will end up being way more fun than a Styrofoam take-out box. You can even invite your neighbors to stop by, say happy birthday, and take a little treat to go.
If you live in the suburbs and your friends have their own vehicles, arrange for a birthday parade! Ask your friends and family to drive by at a certain time to shout or sing, “Happy birthday!” through their rolled-down car windows.
Tip: Set up a jumbo-sized card at the curb using a large poster, and have the “guests” sign it as they drive by. Set out some cookies or cake for them to take home, too.
Adding an element of discovery and surprise can make even a boring COVID birthday much more exciting. Best of all, a scavenger hunt doubles as both the birthday activity and the birthday gift!
Depending on your area’s current restrictions, you can either keep the scavenger hunt at home (inside and out) or head over to a local park or other outdoor area. Use these tips to make sure your treasure hunt is challenging but still fun.
If you live on a traditional neighborhood block and are friendly with your neighbors, why not invite them to a socially distanced block party? Everyone can gather on their own yards at a safe distance and sing “Happy birthday!” at the top of their lungs.
Depending on your building’s layout, this can even work if you live in an apartment. Maybe it’s a floor party from your individual doorsteps or a balcony party across the courtyard.
Tip: It’s best to give the attendees something to get them in the party spirit—don’t leave them responsible for making it fun! For instance, send a “care package” with some cupcakes, birthday balloons, and supplies to make yard-sign birthday cards.
Instead of buying a birthday cake and having it delivered to your home, turn the birthday party into an at-home bake-off a la Cake Boss or Kids Baking Championship. Get everyone in the cooking mood by watching a few episodes of your favorite baking show and then getting to work in the kitchen. Make sure to have a “grand prize” for the winner to make things more exciting!
Tip: Be sure to order all the baking supplies you might need ahead of time, especially since online grocery ordering can be dicey at the last minute. Grab the major players like flour, sugar, eggs, butter/oil, baking powder, frosting, sprinkles, and decorations.
If it’s difficult to get your friends and family together at the same hour due to time zone differences—or if you want a memento that lasts beyond the virtual party itself—consider having friends and family send in a short clip saying, “Happy birthday!”
Online tools like Tribute make it easy to compile montages from multiple people, or you can always create your own using basic software that’s already on your computer.
There’s no time like COVID to enjoy the outdoors. If you’re lucky enough to live near a state or national park, you can enjoy a cozy birthday celebration without having to be near too many people. Before you go, check your area’s current restrictions to see if the operating hours are normal, how many people can be in a single group, and so on.
Tip: If there are too many COVID limitations in your local area or if you feel uncomfortable in public areas, you can always set up camp in your backyard. You can also look for more secluded spots on private property through a website like Hipcamp.
Get in touch with your creative side and turn the COVID birthday celebration into a day or night of artistic expression. (You can’t spell “party” without “art,” right?!)
Since COVID has limited in-person shopping opportunities, lots of local party stores are offering pre-packaged kits of themed party stuff—making it easy to get everything you need without spending hours searching or filling your online cart from multiple stores.
Just search for keywords like “quarantine birthday party pack” or “quarantine party decorations,” or call your local party store directly. Even if they don’t have pre-packaged products, they’ll likely be glad for your business and can help accommodate your request.
Tip: For a fun bonus, send the same birthday decoration kit to anyone attending your virtual birthday party. That’ll help make the event feel more like a normal party.
Our options for getting out of the house are limited these days, but with a little imagination, you can turn a regular car ride into a fun birthday activity. Create a little “birthday road trip,” stopping by your favorite drive-through spots for lunch, dessert, or scenic views.
If you live near a drive-in theater, you could even end your local road trip with a socially distanced movie! Stock up on snacks and pop some popcorn at home, and you’re ready to go.
One reason why COVID quarantine can be so challenging is just the monotony of it all—doing the same thing day after day, almost always in the same place. Adding a quick birthday video chat will certainly be fun…but it may not do much to liven up that “same old same old” feeling.
To create a real sense of something different, try to plan out an entire day of birthday activities. You can even write up a fancy itinerary like you might have on a cruise or vacation! For example:
Tip: If the word “schedule” automatically means “work” in the eyes of the birthday boy or girl, you don’t have to make it an actual itinerary. Just have a bunch of options ready for the day and then let them choose, or have them draw from a hat to see what will happen next.