How to Host a Birthday Party while Social Distancing

I am one of the many who have the bragging rights of celebrating a birthday under quarantine. Those are some pretty epic cool points if you ask me. I absolutely love parties, I love cake, and there is something so incredibly special about birthdays. They are an opportunity for friends and family to celebrate your arrival on this planet and say how glad they are that you’re here. If you have a birthday coming up or are planning one for someone special, don’t let social distancing stop the celebration! Here are some great ideas from my experience and my friend Rebecca at WellWomen on how to let the good times roll.


The Logistics

1. Find a good online platform. We used Zoom. Set it up on your laptop so that it displays through your living room TV.

2. Schedule a time that works across multiple time zones (if you have family or friends overseas). One hour is plenty of time.

3. Invite family to the first half hour, and friends to the second half hour – We found that around 5 attendees works best – we had around 4-5 family groups/members show up at different times throughout the family time which worked really great. Then around 10 friends showed up online for the second half, but it was way too hard to manage and hear anyone. And trust me, one hour is more than enough time (when hosting kids).

4. Set up your party using whatever decorations you have on hand – or make it a family activity to make some in the days leading up to the party. Keep things low-waste, we reuse the same triangle banners for every birthday party.

5. Snacks – low-waste and low-sugar treats such as sliced fruit, popcorn, homemade cookies are all you need and will keep your kids from getting the crazy sugar high which will make them unbearable online. My kids LOVED offering guests snacks by taking plate-loads of them up to the camera and ‘feeding’ them to their family and friends.

6. Birthday cake – schedule the birthday cake for the middle of the party. Beforehand, tell your family guests that you love them and give them permission to log off without saying goodbye, after the cake and happy birthday song. Once friends log on, everyone can sing happy birthday, while the birthday boy or girl blows (or fans) out the candles. Alternatively, you can have a cake and do two series of happy birthday songs and candles – one for family, one for friends.

It’s not a party without games!

There are some great games which can be played online during a digital birthday party. After scouring the internet, these are the games we chose that worked really well for a kids and adults combo:

1. Musical statues – play some music over your phone near your laptop and everyone joins in dancing and freezes when the music stops. It’s pretty impossible to get anyone ‘out’ but it’s still super fun.

2. Read my lips – someone says a phrase with their mic on mute while the other party guests try and guess what they said.

3. Charades – bring back the 80’s with this banging party game.

4. Humdinger – hum a tune while the others try and guess the song.

5. Simon Says – take turns with one person acting as ‘Simon’ to tell the others what to do, and the others only do the actions if they hear ‘Simon says….’. If Simon doesn’t say ‘Simon Says’ at the beginning then DON’T follow their instructions or you’re out!

Keep the games going until interest starts to wane; if one game fails, just stop and switch it out for another.

Celebrating a birthday online is actually a heck of a lot easier than planning a real-life birthday party, plus you get the added bonus of having everyone you love in one room!


Creating Birthday Memories and Gifts That Last

I may have been feeling the slightest bit of sadness as my birthday rolled around in the midst of COVID-19 self isolation. As a 36-year-old adult I was also feeling ridiculous about my self-pity. In a sudden moment of Brené Brown vulnerability, I opened up and shared my sadness with my husband and a couple friends and I’m so glad I did.

My husband used the abundance of quarantine time to complete an art and photography project for my birthday. Now I have these beautiful photos and paintings to remember this season of our lives and how well my family cared for me. I felt celebrated all day long with birthday chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, video calls with my family, a delicious meal ordered in from one of my favorite restaurants and flowers and cupcakes delivered to my home by my dear friends!

– Shelby

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