Having the stuck-at-home blues shouldn’t have to wreck birthdays. On the contrary, in a time in which children are experiencing higher anxiety rates than normal due to the coronavirus, going the extra mile to make your child’s birthday special is one of the best things you can do for it. Most importantly, do not assume that your child won’t want you planning anything at all just because lockdowns prevent any kind of “normal” birthday from happening. Instead, seize the opportunity to give them a birthday they’ll never forget with one of these 10 lockdown-friendly birthday ideas.
1. Have their friends make and send cards
If you are great about planning well in advance (I am not), this one is for you. Children love receiving birthday cards, but they often only come from a few distant relatives. Why not surprise them with a mailbox full of hand-written cards from all their friends? You will need to contact the parents of all the friends at least a week in advance. And you are in charge of setting clear expectations. Set a mail out deadline to ensure they don’t put it off too long. You can then pin them all to a big poster board when the special day comes.
2. Make a personalized video montage
A higher tech version of the previous idea, this one also offers a more personal touch. Ask friends and relatives to record short, simple personalized happy birthday videos and send them to you prior to the birthday. Use a free video splicing app on your smartphone to compile them all. if you have an iPhone, the Photos app is excellent for this.
3. Throw a short virtual party
Try this one if you are at least moderately tech-savvy—and if you happen to know that at least a few potential guests are too. Tip: Keep it simple, and just focus on the fun of communicating. Trying to cram too many hard-to-coordinate interactives in there may result in frustration.
4. Get those cars honking
Involve the whole neighborhood by decorating your driveway and letting motorists know to honk their horns to send birthday greetings. Children will love hearing all the loud noises all day long knowing it’s all for them.
5. Walk-by parade
Organize neighbors and nearby friends to march by the home—keeping a safe distance of course—singing happy birthday and waving personalized signs and balloons.
6. Bake together
A birthday is nothing without a good cake. Make it even more special by baking it together.
7. Organize video chats throughout the day
You create a schedule of video chats and calls throughout the day. This is a really special way to help your child feel surrounded by loved ones even when they can’t be there, and it also provides something to look forward to all day long. Keep the calls short and sweet.
8. Set up a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts have been popping up worldwide as excellent pastimes during quarantines and lockdowns. Make a special themed one for your child’s birthday, whether involving their friends or just your family. Tap into your creative side or borrow tried and tested ideas online, but most importantly have fun.
9. Pay for a virtual visit from a character from their favorite show or movie
Quick online chats with beloved characters are becoming very popular lately. Use a quick web search of your child’s favorite character and chances are there is an agency waiting to book them for a quick appearance on your child’s birthday. They can run a bit pricey but are totally worth it.
10. Camp in the yard
Stuck at home doesn’t have to mean stuck indoors. Plan a camping themed birthday in the yard. Turn your imagination loose, and really pretend you’re out roughing it in the wild. Dress like you would on a real camping trip, “hunt” for firewood—which you’ve already pre-cut and hidden in various places, roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the lawn fire pit, and pitch a tent to camp out in.
Further ideas include having a funny karaoke party or a picnic in your living-room, opening an ice-cream stall at home, having a theme party where also the parents dress up … and of course exaggerating with birthday decorations!
Not being able to gather with friends and family on your birthday can be a bummer. But with a little innovating and lots of love, there is no reason that a birthday during a quarantine can’t be one your child will always remember fondly.
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