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COVID Birthday Ideas for Kids and Adults

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!”

1. Throw a Zoom party.

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:

  • Have something planned. After you’ve sung the birthday song, things can get awkward fast if there’s no clear activity planned. Try to have something ready to go, like a pass-the-mic birthday toast or some kind of interactive game. (See our related post for more ideas on quarantine birthday party games!)
  • Ask the attendees to do some decorating. The party “décor” can be totally low-effort—like a homemade sign or a few balloons in the background—but it can make the birthday boy or girl feel really special. Little touches like these can be especially great for a kid’s birthday party.
  • Assign roles. To keep the party from becoming a hot mess of people talking over each other, let one person be the emcee, one person be the DJ, one person be the game master, and so on. That way no one is wondering what to do next or who’s “in charge.”

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.

2. Arrange for a celebrity shoutout.

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.

  • For kids: Kids might especially love a Cameo message from pro wrestlers, voice actors from their favorite video games, pro sports players, or Penn of the magicians Penn and Teller. Oddly enough, you can even book some Instagram-famous animals.
  • For adults: Of course, all of the above Cameos can certainly apply to adults, too! The platform also has many cast members from cult classics like The Office (Kevin, anyone??) as well as famous musicians, comedians, and reality TV stars.

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.

3. Decorate the yard.

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.

  • For kids: Depending on your budget, you can go big with things like rented inflatables and custom-printed yard signs or stick to something easy like birthday balloons and homemade posters.
  • For adults: Again, all of the above can work for adults, or you could play up the whole “aging” bit by throwing in some over-the-hill decorations or some oversized prints of embarrassing childhood photos.

4. Have a food truck stop by.

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.

5. Do a birthday parade.

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.

6. Create a scavenger hunt.

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.

  • For kids: Try theming your scavenger hunt around your kid’s favorite book, video game, movie, or TV show. That could mean giving related gifts and/or building the story of the scavenger hunt around this theme.
  • For adults: If your treasure hunt is for a romantic partner, it could be “adult” themed. If it’s for a parent or friend, consider using the theme of a favorite food, hobby, travel location, or movie.

7. Host a distanced block party.

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.

8. Host a birthday cake bake-off.

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!

  • For kids: Younger kids might have more fun by skipping the baking part and going straight to decorating. In that case, try making cupcakes ahead of time and then each decorating your own.
  • For adults: This idea only works if the adults in question genuinely like to cook. If the birthday boy or girl would rather die than touch a spatula, this is not a good idea. And if you’re making this the birthday event, remember that you should do the dishes and cleanup, too.

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.

10. Create a video montage.

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.

11. Go camping (or backyard camping!)

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.

12. Have an art day.

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?!)

  • For kids: Depending on your kid’s age and interest, you can get as fancy as you want. You could buy an online art class for kids or host a birthday party over Zoom where everyone paints together. Younger kids can have a blast with a few leftover Amazon boxes and some glitter paint—no need for a Michelangelo set-up!
  • For adults: Some local “drink and paint” places are doing at-home classes where they mail you the supplies and you join via video chat. Check your local area for these classes, or settle into Bob Ross on YouTube and invite your friends to an online BYOB birthday art session.

13. Buy a COVID party kit.

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.

14. Go for a drive.

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.

15. Make It a Full BirthDAY!

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:

  • Morning: Breakfast in bed with fancy coffee, at-home spa with face masks and salt scrubs, outdoor walk in the neighborhood
  • Afternoon: Homemade lunch (maybe a picnic?), board game or video game, arts and crafts
  • Night: Delivery from a favorite restaurant, birthday cake, video chat with friends and family, cozy movie night to end the day

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.

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