Let’s be honest, there’s a lot to be sad about these days. A simple scroll through your news app and you’ll be down in the dumps. Maybe you’re sick with COVID-19 yourself. Or perhaps you had to say goodbye to someone over the phone instead of being at their bedside. This virus is horrible and it’s taking away some things we’ll never get back.

There’s also real life going on each and every day. People are still getting married, having babies, reaching milestones. Birthdays are one of these milestones and we have two birthdays in our house this month. My daughter is turning thirteen and my husband has a birthday a few days later. April has always been my craziest month of the year, but this year is quite different. I’ve had to re-evaluate how to celebrate given the new environment. This is what a birthday party – quarantine style – can look like.

Space it out

Since no one is going anywhere these days, you don’t have to limit your party time to just the evening after work or school. You can ask friends and family to call at various times throughout the day. I created a sign-up genius form with all the people important to my daughter and asked them to pick an hour time slot. Then it was up to them if they wanted to call, text, email, send a video, or even drop something at our door. She felt the love all day long and loved seeing friends and family (at a distance).

Widen the net

There’s no guest list limitations at a quarantine party, so invite people you wouldn’t normally invite to a birthday party for your child. Maybe their favorite teacher, or coach, or a friend who moved away, or someone you only see when you travel or play a certain sport. Reach out and ask them to participate. It’s been my experience that people are eager to do something that is cheerful right now. Plus, no one has much on their calendar, so asking them to wish your child a happy birthday is an easy – and fun – thing to do.

Stretch the dough

If you’re able to shop locally and get takeout from a restaurant and a cake from a local bakery, they’d appreciate the business right now. Think of ways you can support local businesses on your special day. Even if you get donuts, it’s a small way you can help others during this time. In fact, they might even be more accommodating. For example, we wanted donuts from King Soopers and called the night before to make sure they were still making them. The employee asked what kind of donuts we wanted, then set them aside for us the next morning.

Try something new

You can also use the extra time on your hands to try something new in terms of cooking. Maybe you normally eat at a restaurant for birthdays, but this year, attempt to make cook that food at home. Or make a cake that’s not your normal cake, or uses a new technique, such as fondant. My daughter requested a fruit tart for her “cake,” which was something I’d never made before. It turned out delicious and was actually a bit easier than decorating a cake. Plus, the fruit made it feel less sweet than eating cake and ice cream.

Mix it up

Take traditions you’ve always done and give them a new twist. An example of this is that in our house, we always have birthday presents sitting on the coffee table in the living room in the morning. This year, we hid the presents around the house and there was a scavenger hunt to find them. It took me about 20 minutes to come up with clues and write them on cards. Then I put each clue inside a present in the various locations.

Another example is decorations. I always put up the same banner in the same place and use the same candles on the cake. This year, I hung streamers over her doorframe while she slept and got some fun, different candles for her fruit tart. The changes just brought a little more spontaneity and fun in the day, even if they were tiny things.

Make it a family affair

Typically, birthdays in our house are focused on the culminating event….the party at the end of the day with friends, often times taking place outside our home. Since that can’t happen right now, make your time as a family the big event. Maybe it’s a movie marathon on the couch together. Or let the siblings have a sleepover and stay up late or sleep on the floor in the living room. Perhaps you have a family game night or make a craft together.

Our daughters are two-and-a-half years apart and they had what they call a “Sister Sleepover” complete with facial masks, nail polish, and fun snacks. They planned it out, looked forward to it all day, and had a great time. The best part for me was that I didn’t have to stay up until they went to bed like I normally do when there’s a sleepover in my house!

Give some of these ideas a shot and let me know how it goes. Happy celebrating!

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