Photo by Katrina Holden Buckley
Photo by Katrina Holden Buckley

Birthday Parties in Quarantine: Ways To Celebrate with Kids while Social Distancing

Of all the cancellations that have happened due to the nationwide coronavirus quarantine, the much-anticipated and lovingly organized birthday parties for our spring babies may be the saddest. With a little creativity, online shopping, and maybe some help from digital party entertainers, we can turn those corona birthday bummers into virtual birthday parties and memories that will last your kids a lifetime. We've pulled together our favorites from the creative celebrations and solutions we've found.

Making kids feel special on their special day isn’t only about big parties and lots of presents, of course; it’s also about enjoying a day together and reminding them just how important they are to your family. So go ahead and pull up all those old photos and tell them the story of the day they were born (again)—it’s a special day for all of you, after all. Getting kids involved in their own party prep by making decorations and baking their own cakes can be a great way to pass the time together, too.

Visit Poppins@Home for fun virtual learning and party planning options with skilled virtual educators and performers. Our Stay-at-Home Guide also has hundreds of ideas for keeping kids busy and happy at home.

Ask neighbors, friends, and family to participate in a big drive-by birthday celebration. Photo by Shaifali Rametra

Organize a Drive-by Birthday Parade

What kid wouldn’t love a parade in their honor? Ask friends, neighbors, and nearby family to drive by your home or dance down your block (appropriately distanced, of course) at a designated time on your child’s birthday with homemade signs to help celebrate their special day. Even if you don’t have a large network where you live, there are social media groups where parents are organizing parades for kids in their communities.

Celebrate With a Day at the Museum

Visit The Louvre, Metropolitan Museum of Art, or The Van Gogh Museum! Check out some dinosaurs at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History or learn all about the space program by virtually visiting NASA. We've collected all those and more in our Giant List of Virtual Tours and Field Trips. Don’t let quarantine keep your kiddos from normal birthday-style outings to their favorite museums. Cultural institutions all over the world are offering virtual tours for FREE during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grant All Their Birthday Wishes

With so many "nos" these days—no school, no playdates, no sleepovers, no visits from grandma and grandpa—kids need a little yes time. Give your birthday girl or boy the gift of "yes" this year by letting them call the shots on breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Let them pick the movie and decide where you take your daily walk, or what crazy outfits the family wears to honor their birth. As long as their decisions honor social-distancing rules, being the boss for the day can be fun for everyone.

Take in a (Virtual) Broadway Show

If you’ve got a theater lover in your midst, why not dress up for a night out at a Broadway show from the comfort of your own living room. A number of Broadway shows are now streaming through services like Amazon Prime, Broadway HD, and PBS Passport. After your show, take a virtual tour of NYC with your family for the full Broadway experience!

Listen to stories and fun music with A Faery Hunt's performers for a magical birthday. Photo courtesy of A Faery Hunt

Hire a Virtual Birthday Party Performer

Many party performers are transitioning their acts to digital platforms like Zoom or Google Hangouts so kids and their friends can still have all the great group activities of a traditional birthday party. As an added bonus, these virtual shindigs are often much more affordable than their in-person alternatives. Here are a few options to consider:

A Faery Hunt: Who couldn’t use a little magic in quarantine life? How about a virtual visit from a real-life faery to help celebrate your little one and up to eight of their closest friends. A 15-minute live faery visit from one of A Faery Hunt’s trained performers includes stories and music and starts at $50.

BubbleDad: Even bubbles have gone virtual! BubbleDad, Chris Catanese, will start off your virtual party with a bubble-based magic show. He’ll wow kids by creating amazing characters out of bubbles and then show them how to make DIY bubble wands and their own bubble solution that’s bound to keep them busy—and soapy—while they’re home from school. Parties start at $100.

Happily Ever Laughter: How a about a princess visit? Happily Ever Laughter offers several different party and play date packages from one-on-one character visits to group play dates, and can even make a gift "magically" jump from the screen to your child's room.

CAMP: This popular toy store is hosting FREE virtual birthday parties for kids to celebrate daily at 5pm EST. During each 30–40 minute event, friends and families gather online and are entertained by CAMP counselors and talent through storytelling, watching magic, playing games, laughing, singing, and dancing together. Looking for something really over the top? Check out CAMP's Celebration Marketplace to book an entertainer.

Have a jammin’ Zoom party with Jumpin’ Jams. Photo courtesy of Jumpin' Jams

Jumpin' Jams: For 30 minutes, your kid and their friends can have the most jammin’ Zoom party ever thanks to Jumpin’ Jams, who’ve transitioned their musical parties online. The $125 party package includes a performance using different musical instruments, props, and lots of dancing to original music and kid-approved classics. Kids can join in with instruments of their own making, so get the pots and pans ready.

Go on a Birthday Scavenger Hunt

Half the fun of opening presents is the anticipation, so help build up some suspense by scattering clues around the house leading to a big birthday surprise. Katrina Holden-Buckley, of Boston, created a scavenger hunt using her 4-year-old daughter’s own artwork as clues to find her birthday presents. Holden’s daughter scavenged for each part of her party, first finding her party decorations, then cupcakes, and then followed her watercolor paintings to her presents and a Google Hangout of her family waiting and ready to sing "Happy Birthday."

Get creative and set-up a play space! Photo by the author

Stage a Pretend Play Space

While playspaces may be closed for the time being, there’s no reason why you can’t create your own at home. Break out your old pack-and-play and fill it with balls to make an impromptu ball-pit, bring the water table into the bathroom for water play, make a living room fort, dust off the trampoline, or just jump on the bed, and if you have one, blow up that backyard bounce house or pop a tent. Create carnival-style games with balloons and darts, buckets and balls, or bob for apples. There’s no limit to the fun you can create at home.

Throw a Zoom Dance Birthday Party

Whether you ask Alexa to play "Baby Shark" on repeat, get everyone doing the "Chicken Dance," or just blast the radio, invite your kid’s classmates to join in on a virtual dance party. The kids will love seeing each other and showing off their silliest moves, and everyone can use a little exercise these days.

Play dress-up for the whole day to make the birthday kid feel extra special. Photo by Sara M.

Enjoy a Dress-up Day

Get in character by spending the day in costume. Wake the kids up for the day while dressed as a princess, or create a makeshift wand for a little at-home sorcery. Encourage the birthday child to spend the day in a favorite costume while the family plays along dressed as their favorite characters. Speak in silly voices and party like it’s coronation day in Arendelle!

Organize a Homemade Birthday Card Drive

Ask friends and family to send homemade birthday cards to your kiddo! They could include their favorite thing about your child, what they can’t wait to do together once life goes back to normal, or a favorite memory or picture with the birthday boy or girl. If cards arrive before the big day you can scatter them all over your home so kids can be reminded of just how special they are wherever they go.

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