Happy birthday parties at home: celebrating in isolation
We are living through some odd and anxious times right now. Most of us are shut inside. Even if we're lucky enough to be working from home, days can blend into one another - a bit like that weird week between Christmas and New Year's. We're seeing a lot of the people inside our houses, and not nearly enough of anyone else. Somehow we've got both time and stress, plus a lot of days spent in our pyjamas.
With all this going on, it's even more important that we mark the milestones in our lives and celebrate the good times whenever they roll around. We all need something to look forward to, and an excuse to crack out the birthday cupcakes/chocolate/champagne. So take the time to laugh, be silly, and party hard - at home.
Decorate your house (and yourself)
Just because you won't be having guests around doesn't mean your house shouldn't look festive as can be. For kids' birthdays, go all in with balloons, streamers and confetti in their room, in the designated party area (lounge or kitchen) and in the front window so passers-by can enjoy the party vibes as well. (Birthday boys and girls, plus siblings, might even like to craft some decorations in the lead-up to the big day.)
Once the house is all fancy, don't forget to doll yourself up, too. Let kids wear their favourite outfit, whether that's a superhero costume, their pyjamas, or a pair of undies and glitter all over. Adults: put on something that makes your feel fab. Do special make-up and hair, too, if you feel like it. Anything to get in the party mood.
Birthday treats for all!
OK, you can't really go outside. But aside from that, the birthday boy or girl should get to do whatever makes them happy. Suspend your normal rules and routine and enter The Party Zone. Sleep in! Eat cake for breakfast! Play your favourite music and no-one else's! Take a nap! Play a game!
Adult birthday partiers may like to prepare a schedule of indulgences throughout the day. This is important even if you're on your own (and if you're not - let your partner, family or housemates know when you're going to have some birthday 'me time').
Have a long bath, sit out in the garden and read a book, do your nails, bake something delicious. Include some solo activities and some group fun. Prepare your own feast - if that's what makes you happy - or treat yourself to a home-delivered meal from your favourite local restaurant (if they're still open). Solicit family and friends to post old-fashioned cards through the mail, and use them to decorate the house.
Younger birthday boys and girls can play dress-ups, have teddy bear tea parties, watch their favourite movie for the 200th time, colour in and craft. If there's a group in the house, you might like to try your hand at some parlour games - like blind man's bluff, hide and seek or scavenger hunts. (The latter will take some planning on an adult's part - but hey, you might have time on your hands, too.)
If your kid's friends live close you, you could organise with their parents to drive or cycle past for a quick birthday wave, or even leave cards and treats on their daily walk.
Of course, everyone wants a birthday cake with candles. Search for local bakeries that may be open for takeaway or deliveries. Or take the time with home baking - you might find you have most basic cake ingredients in your pantry already.
Stay connected and say cheese
It's called 'social media' for a reason. Even though your nearest and dearest can't come around for a beer and a slice of cake, there's no reason not to celebrate the big day with them. Just open up a screen and dial in.
If you haven't already set up the grandparents with Skype or Zoom, now is the time. Or rather, the day before is the time. (There's nothing worse than mucking around with a video chat connection just when the birthday candles are going to be blown out.)
For multiple party goers, apps like Houseparty or Google Hangouts are worth checking out, because no one in your (or your kid's) life wants to miss out on the fun. Schedule party chats across time zones by using a meeting planner like Time and Date, and remember that overseas guests may be a day behind!
To make digital parties more festive, you could invite everyone to pop on a special costume, outfit or hat. Even something as simple as wearing the birthday person's favourite colour can lend something special to the call. Ask your virtual guests to join in with their own drinks and snacks. And don't forget to sing "Happy Birthday" when it's time. If there's a time lag on anyone's connection, that will just make it funnier - plus it'll last longer!
One more thing on the birthday to-do list: don't forget to take photos, and send them around when you're done. Family and friends will love sharing the good times - even if it can't be in person. And you'll want to look back on the memories one day. Of that fifth (or 50th) birthday that was spent inside, but still managed to be special.