11 Ways to Throw a Great Birthday Party, Even During Quarantine

Jamie Ballard
Photo credit: miljko - Getty Images

From Woman's Day

The coronavirus pandemic has altered every day life, to be sure, but it has also changed how people celebrate big life events, like weddings, graduations, baby showers, and birthdays. If you or a family member were looking forward to a big, celebratory birthday bash this year, necessary social distancing protocols have surely thrown a wrench in those b-day plans. Thankfully, the following quarantine birthday party ideas will help ensure the special birthday boy or girl in your life feels loved this year... even from six feet away.

One notable upside of a virtual celebration is that distant family and friends who might otherwise not be able to attend an in-person event, can now participate in a birthday video chat or other virtual hangout. Many of these quarantine birthday ideas can be customized depending on what the guest of honor is interested in or comfortable doing, and even the most technologically inept family member (looking at you, Uncle Ernie) can figure out how to attend after a quick trial run (or three). Whether you're planning for yourself or trying to organize a birthday surprise for a loved one, there's surely a tried and true way to make the day truly special.

Here are some ideas to ensure a fun birthday party for all involved, even during quarantine.

Send out fun invitations.

Sure, you could just text all your friends a Zoom link, but it's way more fun to send a customized party invitation. Etsy has plenty of digital birthday party invitations for kids and adults alike, or you can kick it old school and send a paper invitation while supporting the U.S. Postal Service. Either way, an invitation will serve as a reminder of what's sure to be a one-of-a-kind birthday during an unparalleled moment in history.

Put up some decorations.

Even if it's just your immediate family at home, nothing says 'it's time to party' like streamers, balloons, and banners. Believe it or not, Amazon, Etsy, and Party City all have quarantine-specific party decorations available.

Get friends and family together for a video chat.

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While nothing beats an IRL birthday celebration, providing far away family and friends the chance to attend the party is a wonderful alternative. You can host a video chat over Zoom, Skype, Facebook Messenger, or whatever video platform you prefer. Just make sure everyone knows how to connect and use it — some of your guests might not be used to video chats just yet, so a before-party practice run might be required.

Set a theme for the party.

Most people have been sitting around in sweatpants for a few weeks now, and are likely being taunted by their fancier clothes and shoes. Give your guests the chance to dress up with a theme party. You could have everyone dig out their old neon spandex for an '80s throwback, or put on princess tiaras, or get glammed up, or don a superhero costume — the choices are nearly endless, and attendees are sure to love the chance to switch up their wardrobe game.

Watch a movie or TV show together.

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The cinemas may be closed, but you can still watch a movie with friends. Extensions like Netflix Party and Kast allow you to sync up your video stream with your friends and chat while you watch the movie. Popcorn not included.

Plan a drive-by celebration.

If you're trying to create a special birthday party for someone else, you can enlist some friends and family who live nearby to participate in a drive-by celebration. Have everyone do something decorative — like make a big "Happy Birthday" sign, paint a birthday message on the car's windows, or attach balloons to the roof — and drive by the guest of honor's house at a designated time.

Learn to create something together.

Maybe you want to learn how to make the perfect cupcakes, or maybe you've been itching to break out the watercolor paints. Perhaps those baking tutorials are calling your name, or you've finally caved after hearing the siren song of sourdough bread. Whatever your hobbies, there's likely to be some online videos you and your party guests can follow along with. Or ,if you want a more customized experience, look to some of the chefs, bakers, musicians, artists, winemakers and others offering online tutorials through Airbnb Experiences.

Play a game.

Maintaining a safe distance from friends and family doesn't mean you can't enjoy a friendly game night. There are plenty of online or app-based versions of games, like Mario Kart and Uno, or you can try your hand at any one of the games offered by Jackbox Games, which offers several choices that are meant to be played with friends.

Attend a livestream concert or show.

Snagging front-row seats to see your favorite band this year? Yeah, probably out of the question. But there are tons of livestream events that you can tune into for your quarantine birthday celebration. Artists and venues including Melissa Etheridge, H.E.R., the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Albert Hall have been offering livestream events for the public to tune into during quarantine — there's sure to be something you'll enjoy.

Get neighbors to celebrate (from a distance).

CNN shared a sweet story about a mom who got the neighbors involved to make sure her daughter's sweet 16 was one to remember. Caroline Herring asked her daughter Carrie Crespino to go on a birthday walk with her the morning of her 16th birthday. As they walked, families in the neighborhood sang happy birthday to Carrie. If you live in a walkable area, you could do something similar to celebrate your family member or friend's birthday.

Give the gift of self-care.

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Of course, a celebratory birthday doesn't necessarily mean a big b-day bash or huge virtual party. If you're into a more low-key party, draw a hot bath, pour a glass of wine, and listen to your favorite songs. Or do some journaling to reflect on the past year and set intentions for the year ahead. Self-care activities can be a peaceful way to "party."

If the friend or family member in your life doesn't want to celebrate their birthday with a big virtual party or a drive-by celebration, you can help them have their own self-care birthday fête by sending them their favorite face masks, scrubs and candles.

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