April 8, 2019.
That date probably has zero significance to any of you, but to me, it means a lot. That is the day my caboose baby was born. To say I was looking forward to planning the most extravagant first birthday party one last time would be a huge understatement! I love a good theme. I love decorating and crafting. And I love going all out (most of my friends call me extra). So when social distancing began nearly a month ago, I lived on a hope and a prayer that by my son’s birthday party date, things would die down and we would not have to cancel. With each update and as the numbers continued to rise, I knew that my last baby’s first birthday party would not happen.
While I realize that bigger problems are going on in the world right now, I am allowed to feel sad about this. I am allowed to have my pity party and cry sessions, as is anyone else who is canceling events. I have taken my moments to cry and grieve and be angry. And then I took some time to come up with alternative plans and gather ideas from those in the same situation as us. With a little help from technology and a lot of love from friends and family, these precious moments in life can still be celebrated; quarantine style.
Have a Virtual Party
Choose a venue:
Because of the stay at home orders, think of video platforms as the party venue. With all the technology out there, there are a ton of video platform options to choose from.
- Face Time works great for guests with iPhones.
- Zoom is a free app that can be downloaded on a phone or computer. Your guests will have to create an account. Zoom can accommodate 100 people with a time max of 40 minutes.
- Google Hangout does not have a limit and is also free.
- Skype is the oldest platform out there that most people are probably familiar with. However, there is a 10 person limit on this platform.
- Google Duo is similar to Face Time but for Android phones. The app can be downloaded on Apple devices and used to chat with Android users.
Whichever platform you use, just be sure that all guests have the correct apps downloaded and work out all the kinks in advance.
Just because there won’t be an in-person gathering doesn’t mean there doesn’t have to be a theme. Choose a theme that best suits the person being celebrated to keep things as fun and as normal as possible. I realize with all the stores being closed that this step could be difficult if you didn’t plan ahead. But you still have options! Amazon Prime has come through for my family. I was able to order a balloon kit and birthday ribbon. Stores such as Walmart and Target are still doing grocery pick-up where you can check online to see if they have party items in stock. If that isn’t an option, DIY is always a fun route!
Have a Middle, Beginning, and End:
Although a virtual party is an uncharted territory for most of us, there needs some sort of planning that goes into the way the video party will go. You want to try and avoid meltdowns and moodiness, especially for the younger guests. A good way to begin part is to first welcome all your guests and exchange hellos. Depending on the type of party you throw, a good middle would be to host games once pleasantries are done. A few ideas for virtual games are freeze dance, charades, and Simon Says. To end the party, have the guests sing happy birthday while the guest of honor blows out the candles.
Have a Birthday Party Parade
Invite your friends and family to drive by your house with signs and balloons to sing happy birthday parade style. This is a really popular, easy option.
Have an Open Trunk Party
I have seen this type of party posted on Facebook multiple times (creator unknown). Park your vehicle in the driveway, pop open the trunk and decorate it. Then invite guests to stop by to drop off their gifts in the trunk and wish a happy birthday or whatever you’re celebrating. You could sit on the front porch or a safe enough distance away from the guests to exchange hellos and thank yous.
If none of these options are ones that you’re comfortable with, here are a few more that you could do to celebrate with the people within your 4 walls:
- Ask friends and family to mail cards or gifts.
- Invite your family to decorate your home using decorations that you hand-make.
- Have a family member dress up as your child’s favorite character. Suits can be ordered from Amazon or rented from local companies.
- Call local companies who have princess/superhero costumes. They have been doing video calls to the birthday girl/boy.
- Make a cake together! Take the cake part of a celebration a step farther and turn it into memory-making. Add cake ingredients to an online grocery pick up order and get the whole family together to bake and decorate the cake. Don’t forget the candles!
These are tough times and while your child may not understand why their party is canceled and why friends and family cannot come over, we can still do our best to make their day as special as ever. And remember, what makes a party is the people we celebrate with.