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How To Throw A Kid’s Birthday Party In Quarantine

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Photo Courtesy of Juvilynn Arbuthnot

If you haven’t thrown (or been invited to) a so-called quarantine birthday party, just you wait… While gatherings of any size are a no-go these days, there are still plenty of ways to make your little one’s day special, while keeping the safety of everyone top of mind. From simple upgrades on your typical shelter-in-place days to more involved plans, we’re sharing our favorite quarantine birthday party ideas that you can try at home, below!

Have Them Dress Up Fancy. Even if there will be no guests beyond your immediate family, have your child wear their favorite fancy outfit (our son loved wearing this special “birthday suit” for his 7th at-home b-day), and if the rest of the family wants to get in on the dress-up action, the more the merrier.

Plan A Special Menu. Maybe it’s having your child pick out what they want for their birthday dinner, or perhaps it’s allowing them to plan the entire day’s menu—breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and even snacks! Every little bite will become exciting if they feel like it’s a special birthday treat.

Write Out A Birthday Schedule. If your kid thrives on structure and planning ahead, it can be a fun exercise to plan out their big birthday on a large piece of paper or white board and have them help you plan their dream day—from wake-up to bedtime. Any ahead-of-time planning with your little will help build up their anticipation and make the day’s arrival alone feel like a pretty big deal.

Let Them Have A Day Off Homeschool. The beauty of homeschool is that, in some cases, you might be able to take a day off and make-up the work on a weekend (or double-up a lesson on another day). If this is a possibility for your family and something the birthday kid will go gaga for, think about incorporating it into your b-day plans.

Host A Digital Party. Zoom, FaceTime, HouseParty, Google Hangouts, pick your poison and host a digital party—or two—throughout the day. For our child’s recent birthday, we hosted a Zoom with a handful of classmates earlier in the day, and had another in the evening with our extended family that included opening some presents and blowing out candles. You can keep these meetings simple (and short!) or you can choose a theme (LEGOs, Dress-Up, Tea Party, Play-Doh, Dance Party, etc.) to keep the kids focused.

Do A Drive-By. Drive-by birthday parties (and baby showers!) are all the rage these days. They allow folks to see each other’s faces IRL while also keeping the required 6-feet social distance between them. There are several ways to host a drive-by party. One option is to give your guests a designated time span (say, 30 minutes or 1 hour) in which they can drive by your home, honk, display handmade signs and balloons, maybe give a gift, etc. The time span you choose depends on how busy your street gets, if you want a short parade-style drive-by, or if you’d rather cars come spread out at different times in order to get a little curb-side chat in with each of them. Another idea is to take your own show on the road. Have your child decorate the car with balloons, streamers, and signs (one of our mama-friends made an attention-garnering “Honk It’s My 8th Birthday!” sign for her daughter’s fête), and drive by the homes of your child’s friends. Those friends might want to surprise the birthday kid with their own at-home decor, a gift, a song or dance, etc.

Set Expectations With Gifts. Due to shipping delays, your kid might not receive as many gifts for their 2020 birthday, or receive them after their actual birthday. Discuss this with your child beforehand, and lean into making the day about more than just gifts, but spending time with loved ones (however possible) and having a fun experience. If there are gifts exchanged by friends during drive-by activities, make sure you’re smart about handling and hand washing when it comes to receiving and touching packages. Have a game plan beforehand, explain it to your family, and follow it.

Balloons Make Everything More Exciting. Fill your child’s room with them or another room in the house. Decorate your house with them. Fill your bathtub up with them for a surprise. Break out the balloons to instantly make your home feel like a party zone. Look for biodegradable options when possible.

Create A Ball Pit. This is a great birthday surprise for babies on up to early elementary kids. Use your bathtub or an inflatable pool, and fill it up with plastic balls for hours and hours of fun.

Hire A Performer (Digitally). If you want a break from entertaining your kid yourself, you can bet that there are plenty of currently under-utilized party venues and children’s play spaces that would love to be a part of your big day. Think locally—or globally!—and book a performer, an arts & crafts instructor, a magician, etc. to entertain your kiddo (and even some of their friends) via the computer.

Do An At-Home Scavenger Hunt. Kids love hunting for stuff…that’s pretty much a fact! Whether it’s repurposing your Easter eggs or creating a more elaborate hunt, your child is sure to love this birthday surprise.

Create An Obstacle Course. If you’re lucky enough to have some outdoor space or enough room in your home to do so, surprise your child with a little birthday obstacle course (complete with prizes, if you want). The sky’s the limit on how creative you want to get here and if just the birthday kid will be asked to complete the course, or if the entire family will step up to the challenge.

Camp In The Backyard (Or Living Room). If you’ve got all the fixings for a campout, this can be a fun birthday activity. If you have an actual tent and want to pitch it, go wild. Otherwise, make a fort in your house and let your kid’s imagination run wild. This one can be as involved or as simple as you make it.

Make Their Birthday Cake (Together). Who says their birthday treats have to be a big surprise? Get your child in the kitchen and do some collaborative b-day baking (and cake-decorating!).

Focus On Decor. Either homemade or store-bought, add a few fun decor elements around your house or around your table to increase the pizzazz factor.

Play A “Happy Birthday” Montage. If light video editing is your thing, ask your child’s friends and family (ahead of time) to deliver a special birthday message for your kid and create a montage video that you can play to your child (and replay and replay and replay!) on their special day. A more low-tech option: Just ask your kid’s friends to record and text you their video message and play them in one-off spurts once received.

Or Just Do (Pretty Much) Nothing. There is a lot going on right now. Instead of going over-the-top for your child’s birthday this year, you can also strip it down to the bare basics. Let your child binge-watch their favorite TV show, play LEGOs, dress-up, or download that new video game they’ve been begging your for. Read with them for hours on end (or let them read by themselves). Sing happy birthday to them, tell them you love them (over and over again), have phone calls with friends and relatives, and top it all off with a birthday dessert. As long as you’re able to make them feel special, that’s birthday success.

Want more birthday planning inspo? Check out the Coolest Kids’ Party Supplies to make your at-home event even more festive.

Write a Comment

  1. my bithday is on May 18th and im serously concediring these things they all sound pretty easy to do and fun im sad that i cant have real party but atleast i could make this party great.

  2. Lesa Potter says...

    My son did a group video and it was “Comedy” night for his Bday celebration. To hear kids giggling for an hour was hilarious. My son got a book from his Grandparents which apparently was the perfect gift for this, Awesome Jokes for 7 Year Olds. Can’t get much better than that. That book was the biggest hit of the party! Thank goodness for good jokes and Grandparents that know we needed a good laugh!

  3. Great tips Katie! Keep sharing such useful stuff!

  4. Thanks for explaining writing out the birthday schedule for your child so they have something to look forward to. My son’s birthday is next weekend and we want to have a fun and safe birthday party for him and his friends. I’ll have to find a venue that they can have some fun and cake in.

  5. Great post, this is all we need in times like these. Will definitely keep some of these ideas in mind.

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