Although we’ve explained the current social distancing situation to our kids, my 4-year-old son doesn’t quite grasp that the party we’ve spent the past few months talking about is now canceled. We’re all on coronavirus lockdown so there will be no guests aside from, well, the people who live in our house.
It breaks my heart to have to cancel our planned party, but there are ways to create a fun celebration at home. March and April (and May?) birthdays don’t have to be a wash. From virtual singing to chalk art to your own bounce house, here are 10 ways to make your child’s birthday special.
1. Set the stage with party décor
Now is the time to get festive. Party decorations work wonders in boosting morale. If you have party hats, streamers, balloons, or banners on hand, get them out. The theme doesn’t matter, just deck your house out! If you’d like something to take the work out of an at-home balloon bunch, Bunch O Balloons makes a pump that will inflate, tie, and string up to 40 balloons at once. Create a surprise by layering balloons between a sheet and their door so they’re showered when they wake up in the morning.
If creative projects are something you enjoy, you can make custom party décor, cards, shirts, and decals with a Cricut Joy machine. It’s the perfect time to take on a new craft project.
2. Whip up a sweet treat
What’s a birthday party without a cake? You can still buy a cake from a local bakery (following recommended protocol), but you can also bake one yourself. If you’ve got a kiddo who’s into baking, this can be a birthday activity in itself. A fancy rainbow cake mix kit makes the baking process easy—and loads of fun.
3. Choose a present that will provide hours of fun
If you can order a gift in time—keeping in mind that many deliveries are currently delayed—choose one that will have maximum impact. For instance, a Lego set isn’t just a gift, it can also be a family birthday activity. (The same goes for puzzles.)
Gifts that burn energy are also perfect for all this time spent at home. If you can swing it, Little Tikes makes a great bounce house that provides great exercise. (P.E. class, anyone?) And a bounce house really says “birthday party” even if there are no guests.
Learning games and systems like Osmo can be integrated into home school curriculum. They also keep kids busy with brain-building activities. And some of them—for instance the Osmo tangram game—are fun for adults, too.
4. Send the birthday kiddo off in search of clues
A scavenger hunt is a popular birthday idea, and something that can be done easily at home. Create clues yourself, or buy a kit if you’re so inclined. For added festivity, include gifts in the mix and have the birthday child go in search of their presents. Or create magical memories with a pirate map leading to a treasure chest.
5. Have a “yes day”
One way to make kids feel special is implementing a “yes day.” Just say yes to all requests—within reason of course—on your child’s birthday. Ice cream at breakfast? Yes! Video games for hours? Sure, why not. Staying up late—of course. Not even the coronavirus can stop a yes day.
6. Sing the birthday song, virtually
Maybe you can’t get “Happy Birthday” out of your head since it’s become a hand-washing tool, but it’s time for this classic to really shine. This year family and friends can join in on this birthday tradition virtually: Zoom with friends; FaceTime with family; or use WhatsApp, Skype, or whatever video calling app you like. Hearing familiar voices will surely add to your child’s special day.
7. Set up the tent for a family campout
Set up a camping tent in the living room—or the yard if you’re brave—and have your own little birthday campout. Tell stories about the birthday kiddo and enjoy some s’mores. Cozy up in sleeping bags and have an indoor camp experience. A lantern that projects stars will add to the ambiance.
8. Collect birthday cards
Ask parents to have your child’s friends send a birthday wish in the mail. Being surrounded by messages from friends and family will make any kid feel special. Plus who doesn’t love receiving mail? Display the cards around the house for an extra dose of festivity.
9. Create a DIY theater experience
For an extra special movie experience, project a favorite flick onto a sheet or do an outdoor screening. No projector? Create a theater vibe in the living room with popcorn and candy. Obviously the birthday kid chooses the film, and DVDs also make great gifts.
10. Chalk your walk or go on a teddy bear hunt
Reach out to neighbors and ask if they would put up signs in their windows, or leave a chalk message on their driveway. Then take the birthday kid for a walk around the neighborhood to view the birthday messages. Some neighborhoods are doing cute “bear hunts” and leaving plush bears in windows for kids to spot. It’s a sweet way to show community.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.