On the day of our twins’ birthday, my husband and I hung up streamers and buntings, decorated their room with their favourite characters (Unicorn & Superman), placed a big ‘glittery’ number five balloon on the living room wall, and got the yummiest cake baked for them. Everything was just perfect—the way we all wanted to welcome their ‘Big 5’ birthday, except for one thing, there were no friends, no guests, no celebration with schoolmates.
Instead, in the middle of all this glitter and sparkle, was our humble laptop strategically placed on the centre table, ready with Zoom app wherein we were to have kids’ grandparents and close friends joining us over for the celebration to shower their love, wishes and blessings—all of it virtually! Despite the fact that there’s a pandemic, I’m a firm believer that birthday celebrations still matter.
Birthdays and other milestones allow children to feel connected to their community. At a time when loved ones aren’t able to physically come together, it’s especially important to remind children they still have a network that cares for them.
I have shared this earlier too that ‘social distancing’ should never be forced upon anyone as ‘social isolation. This is the most crucial time for everyone, especially children, to feel that we’re all in this together, even if we are not together! And at no cost, I wanted to disappoint children by postponing the party or making no plans for their big day. After all, celebrations like these add some joy to the otherwise monotonous ‘quarantine life’.
And at the end of the day, what children expect on their birthday is nothing but feeling happy and special. Isn’t it?
7 Fun Ways To Plan Your Kid’s Birthday Party During The Pandemic
With the pandemic hitting the one-year milestone this month, there is a high possibility of the next round of birthdays getting started. So if last year you were not able to figure out any special ways of celebrating a “socially distanced” or “virtual” birthday party, check out these unique and fun ways to plan kids birthday party during social distancing.
1. Virtual Character-led Party
We got a chance to attend one such Zoom party which was led by the birthday girl’s favourite character, Cinderella. This was done with the help of a professional event planner in which on a Zoom call, a girl dressed up as Cinderella came on screen and interacted with the birthday girl and other kids. Then there was princess-led virtual read-aloud and some games. All the kids were in complete awe of meeting the character they had only read or heard about.
If you do not want to hire anyone for this service, probably arrange the costume and accessories and ask a friend or relative (who is good with engaging kids) to dress up as the character and conduct the virtual birthday party.
2. Birthday Scavenger Hunt
Another virtual birthday party idea that is always a hit with kids, especially the younger lot, is a scavenger hunt. Just plan a bit in advance along with parents of other children who are invited for the birthday celebration virtually.
Hide things related to birthday theme (can be as basic as birthday hat, party popper, balloon) at different spots in the house (make sure the spots are the same for all the children). Then one-by-one keep giving clues to children to go and hunt for the item in their respective homes. You can add some more drama to this by singing the “we are going for a birthday hunt, hunt-hunt-hunt” song.
3. Scientist-Themed Virtual Birthday Party
STEAM/STEM activities are garnering a lot of interest these days amongst kids as well as parents, and why not so? Mixing solutions and making coloured potions is always fun for kids!
Pick up this science theme for kids, over 5 years of age, and be ready for a lot of ‘wows’ and ‘ooohs’. There are ample age-appropriate science experiments that require basic materials which are easily available at home. While sending an e-invite for the virtual birthday party, just add a note to keep the materials handy for kids. These materials range from soap solution and water to vinegar and baking soda- pretty doable for parents and very engaging for kids!
4. Stream A Film
In a perfect world, you would take a sugar-laden trip to the movies to see your favourite Disney flick. Instead, hop on a Zoom call, share your screen from your Disney+ or Netflix account, and get ready for smiles all around. Pick a flick that is loved by the birthday boy/girl and is equally relevant to other kids participating in the virtual birthday party. Make sure to give a heads up to all the involved parents for keeping a bucket of popcorns ready!
Don’t see much excitement around a film? No problem! Gather your child’s pictures from childhood, with school friends, as well as family celebrations, and use your editing skills to make a slideshow of special memories. This will not only be enjoyable but also a great keepsake for your little one.
5. Host a Virtual Talent Show
Send around a signup sheet and turn the parents into a judges’ panel. From singing to dancing to poetry, let each of your child’s friends show off their super “secret” or not-so-“secret” skill. Award person with the top score a tiny trophy or cupcake to celebrate their achievement.
Although things have changed, we can still celebrate occasions such as kids’ birthday parties with small changes that allow us to have some socially distant fun and create lasting memories! Read on below for our favourite ideas for throwing a fun socially distanced at-home kids birthday party.
6. Art In The Park Party
Use your front or back yard for a small-sized gathering to come together for the birthday celebration. It’s advisable to keep the number of invitees to a minimum in order to ensure social distancing. In the case of space limitation, just have all the guests come to the nearby park or garden. Keep art supplies made into individual kits and let the kids enjoy a socially-distanced artsy-craftsy evening together. Rock painting, DIY art kit are great ways to keep kids engaged.
7. Distance Dance party
Who doesn’t like to groove a bit?
Have kids draw a social distance bubble using chalk or marker and begin to play music and have a mini dance in their zone. At the end of the party serve ice cream in individual cones for the kids to cool down with.
Other Tips To Have A Successful Socially Distanced Kids Birthday Party
- Keep the party short (1-1.5 hours) and numbers small
- Handover mini sanitiser bottles at the beginning of the party for easy accessibility for the guests
- Keep the seating area pre-planned using well-spaced hula hoops or taped squares
- Keep snacks to a minimum and make them individual servings. Perhaps make ‘snack cups’!
- Opt for cupcakes over a cake
From the year 2020 and my experience with celebrations during this pandemic, we surely have realized that there’s a silver lining in doing something smaller and simpler. It not only relieves parents from the pressure of party planning but also helps to focus on only celebrating the way the child loves. So the focus is completely on the birthday boy/girl and not the party.
Plus this experience is just one of the ways we will be able to instil the ability to bounce back from setbacks in ourselves as well as in children. They will learn to be more adaptive, which is an amazing life skill to possess!
Undoubtedly COVID-19 presented unforeseen challenges for all of us, but it’s not impossible to give your child an unforgettable birthday. Whatever you end up doing for your kiddo on their birthday during this bizarre and uncertain time in your lives, don’t forget to make the day all about them. Really pay attention to your child and what they need. It might not be what we all originally had in mind, but with a little creativity, you can still make it memorable for them.
Don’t be surprised if you find that your child appreciates their pandemic party even more than a traditional one!