As families practice social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, kids are dealing with disappointment over cancelled trips, school events, sports seasons and more. For children celebrating their birthdays in the coming weeks and months, the absence of a fun party with friends may also be a letdown.
Of course, parents are prioritising health and safety right now, but just because we all have to stay home for a while doesn’t mean kids can’t have memorable birthday celebrations. We asked the HuffPost Parents Facebook community to share their ideas for making children’s birthdays special during this time, and they delivered.
“Our daughter just celebrated her 7th birthday yesterday. We thought it was going to be a bit of a letdown having her birthday during quarantine, but thanks to so many people, she has declared this her best birthday EVER!” wrote Emilee Mooney.
“From chalk drawings in the driveway, Easter Bunny deliveries, seeing friends, virtual hugs, social distance visits, homemade cards, presents, video chats, singing from patios, cards in the mailbox, texts, video texts, Facebook messages, drive-by wishes, horns honking, it was an all day celebration!” Mooney continued.
“She asked us for a campfire in the backyard to roast marshmallows and a birthday cake. But our friends and family came together to make her day even more amazing than she could have imagined! I got a bit teary-eyed after every single thoughtful moment, knowing how loved our little girl really is and how many people care and are kind and oh-so-loving. We are so very blessed. Our friends really stepped up to make her day special.”
“Kids are more resilient than we give them credit for. Just make it the best you can with what you can.”
Many other parents shared similar stories, with some noting that they’ve eased the blow by telling their kids they’ll get to celebrate twice ― once on their actual birthday, and again with a bigger party after social distancing ends.
Others emphasised the value of keeping things in perspective.
“Kids are more resilient than we give them credit for,” wrote Shelby Brown. “Just make it the best you can with what you can. Love and happiness is all they really need. A cute cake is a bonus.”
Below, find more ideas for making kids’ birthdays special in the age of Covid-19.
“A balloon waterfall! I tape a sheet up to their door frame and stuff balloons between the sheet and door while they’re sleeping. When they open their door in the morning, they are greeted by balloons falling on them. I did this for my kids when they were 4 and 3 ... They’re almost 10 and 9 now and still ask for this every year, even though it’s no longer a surprise!” ― April Lynnae
“Tape an open rubbish bag to the top of their door and the ceiling to create a ‘bag,’ filled with balloons. When they open the door, the tape rips off and they have a ‘balloon waterfall!’” ― Nicole Desaulnier
“Every year, I blow up balloons the night before and wake her up the next morning by tossing them into her bed while I softly sing ‘Happy Birthday.’ She loves it and asks for it every year. We also have a special plate we use for special holidays that says ‘You are special.’” ― Mehgan Jeffers Boudreau
“My son is celebrating his 9th birthday tomorrow. His birthday sleepover last Friday was canceled. We are surprising him in the morning with a yard sign and we are just going to try to make the day as special as we can regardless of the circumstance. We always fill their rooms with balloons on their birthday and decorate the doors with streamers, so we will do that (thanks to Amazon for the delivery of balloons and streamers).” ― Sarah Cothren
“Ask friends, neighbours and relatives to make signs and drive by your house at a designated day and time to honk and yell well wishes out the window while you are on your lawn at a safe distance.” ― Kristen Craig Carle
“Put a sign outside for people to honk for their birthday.” ― Abby Johnson
“One local town said their fire department will come by and ring the siren and shout out ’Happy birthday’ to the birthday kid! So fun and special!” ― Cindy E. Kim
“We had an impromptu parade ― neighbours, classmates and friends gathered at a designated time and paraded past our home, windows open, horn honks, homemade signs ... it was beyond amazing. No one got out of their cars, and my twins still got to see all of their friends! EPIC birthday despite canceled party and no fam gathering!” ― Sarah Burch Wiseman
“Someone in our community had to cancel their son’s 9th birthday. They sat out on their front lawn while friends and family drove by and had a parade of sorts with signs and balloons. The police and fire department even came and sang ‘Happy birthday’ from their fire trucks.” ― Jennifer Moore
“Zoom! I’m a kindergarten teacher and we started distance learning last week. On Friday, it was one of my student’s birthdays, so we threw him a ZOOMing birthday party with all the classmates who were able to join in on Zoom. It was super cute. His mom even baked a cake at home and he blew out his candles. They were all so happy, including him!” ― Maria Berisso-Santos
“My son is turning 6 and loves to video call. I’m trying to put together a group call with some of his friends to sing him ‘Happy Birthday.’” ― Stephanie Moran
“I’ll be having a Zoom surprise party next week for my daughter with all her friends who would have been at her party on the call.” ― Kathy Shurtz Steele
“We had a virtual singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ on Zoom with her cousins. A few days before, we shipped cupcakes from a bakery that had closed its storefronts but is still shipping nationwide. Everyone had a treat after we sang, and we supported a small business.” ― Jane Incardone
“My daughter’s Sweet 16 was on Saturday. We did a scavenger hunt of riddles to find all of her hidden presents.” ― Tricia Slaton Williams
“We are planning a home scavenger hunt for our almost 4-year-old. And a virtual ‘party’ for her extended family to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ together while she blows out her candles.” ― Anne Colvin
“My granddaughter will be 6 tomorrow ... Since I have four gifts for her, I’m going to wrap them a few times, each in a bigger box and then hide them in their yard and leave her a map with hints to find them.” ― Monica Donajkowski Urban
“My daughter’s birthday was last Monday, right when everything closed down here in Dallas. We had to cancel her party and stay home. Family members sent her gifts via Amazon Prime and she loved having packages with her name on them. I made a scavenger hunt for the presents and hid them around the house.” ― Amber Griffith Autery
“My son’s birthday is today and he’s a huge ‘Ghostbusters’ fan. A bunch of fellow GB enthusiasts have made and sent videos in full gear to wish him a happy birthday. It’s such an awesome community!” ― Amanda Kirkland
“I created an online gallery where friends and family could upload photos and videos of birthday wishes.” ― Tricia Slaton Williams
“The princess company I had hired to entertain is sending a personalised birthday video because we had to postpone kiddo’s party.” ― Tami Lptn
“There is a local business that has amazing actors/singers who dress up like princesses and superheroes for parties. They are doing personalised videos and FaceTime calls, so my daughter is going to get to chat with Elsa and Anna for her birthday.” ― Kate Paradise-Taylor
“Older kids might not want a birthday wish from a princess, but there might be a famous person that could send them a birthday wish on Cameo.” ― Sara Petrick
“Have some fun in the kitchen together. Make a cake decorating video together and watch it later.” ― Shonda Bowser
“This was the first year my son was going to get a birthday party. He is adopted and has autism. He was so excited to get a party with his friends. We’re going to make a cake and have fun at home, and then hopefully plan a larger ‘make-up party with friends’ over the summer!” ― Jennifer Moore
“My daughter celebrated her 15th birthday on St. Patrick’s Day. The school is closed and our family is trying to protect their dad for Covid-19, so I baked her a homemade chocolate cake [and] also made a cake with a girl all dressed up using fondant (quinceañera since she’s 15). We made corned beef and potato soup and shared some [with] our elderly neighbours with a slice of chocolate cake. We spent the day looking at her old photos when she was so little. What a fun time!” ― Bam Korzan
“My daughter had her birthday yesterday. Neighbours wrote happy birthday messages in sidewalk chalk on our porch. Also, balloons delivered to the house. It made her feel special.” ― Christy Fitzwater
“Today is my son’s birthday. I asked for beeps if people drove by, videos, FB posts or text me pictures of cards the kids make. The most hilarious was our friends’ two boys dressed in their inflatable dinosaur costumes and went for a walk to personally deliver a birthday yard sign. They are entertaining so many adults with their dino antics!” ― Michelle Geller
“In my neighbourhood, a kid’s mum asked people to write happy birthday messages in sidewalk chalk.” ― Danielle Esterley Fischer
“We made her favourite breakfast and got takeout from her favourite place.” ― Christy Fitzwater
“We did a Texas Roadhouse dinner at home. Dressed up like waitstaff and made the complete meal ― rolls and all.” ― Angela Hoffman
“We decorated her door, so she was surprised when she woke up. We made birthday pancakes, and she wanted to make her own cake, which she did.” ― Cheryl Rastelli
“We had a special birthday breakfast and I recreated her favourite meal from her favourite place to eat (mac and cheese and orange slices, people, I am by no means a chef). We also FaceTimed with friends and family throughout the day. We tried our best to make the day all about her. While I don’t think this was her best birthday to date, I do think and hope that it is one she will never forget.” ― Amber Griffith Autery
“Yes day! Ice cream for breakfast? Sure! Popcorn for lunch? Why not! Also, if allowed, we will either drive by her friends’ homes so they can shout or sing ‘Happy Birthday’ from a very safe distance or have her friends drive by our house for the same thing. If that’s not allowed, we will do the same but with Zoom!” ― Andrea Thomas Botham
“The biggest thing is making it a ‘yes’ day. Want ice cream for breakfast? sure! Watch the same movie two times in a row? Sounds awesome! We also will have lots of video chats throughout the day.” ― Molly Harris
“My son turns 10 on Thursday. We plan a day where he gets to choose all meals, ordered a decorate-your-own-cupcakes kit, will make a fire in the chiminea and roast marshmallows, plus rotting our brains on YouTube, Switch and TV.” ― Denise Eckels Busch
Cards In The Mail
“My birthday boy will be 9 at the beginning of April. I’m going to ask family and friends to send him a card or letter in the mail. He loves getting mail.” ― Hayley Welch
“My 6-year-old daughter is making birthday cards for her classmates, and we are mailing the cards out to them. It was her idea to try to help brighten the day of her friends.” ― Jenna Schaefer
“We requested friends and family to mail cards. She has gotten a bunch and feels so loved!” ― Ashley Noveck Ortiz
“I asked everyone I know to send a birthday card, email, or note to my son. I’ll print the notes and put them in a jar. All of the letters I’ll save for him to open at once. My son is very sentimental and not big on toys. I’m very excited!” ― Kyley Dehler
“Movie Day! My daughter has a full day of movies planned instead of her family adventure to Great Wolf Lodge. A day full of junk food and movies is not what she wanted, but she is enjoying the thought of making her siblings sit through her favourite movies!” ― Laura Michalik-Giacobbi
“You could borrow or buy a projector and project a movie on the back of your house using a sheet. Make popcorn over the fire, too!” ― Olivia Hair
“We will celebrate my daughter’s birthday this weekend. We’re going to do an ‘inside beach day.’ We’re decorating, bringing our blow-up pool in the living room to fill with pillows and lay in while watching a movie, doing some beach crafts, and making snow cones!” ― Justine Gibbon
“For my daughter’s birthday, she wanted a princess party, so we all dressed up as princesses or characters from a fairy tale or movie and had a tea party. She absolutely loved it.” ― Sarah Christian
“My daughter is turning 13 this Wednesday. We are putting up the Christmas tree and decorating it as a birthday tree with the ‘Friends’ theme because that is the theme she chose, ‘The One When Kylie Turns 13.’ I thankfully ordered party supplies a few weeks ago and picked up ‘13’ balloons last week. She also has a themed T-shirt we ordered weeks ago. We are having ice cream sundaes for breakfast, playing Minute-to-Win-It games, watching the 13th episode from all 10 seasons of the show, and surprising her with a Zoom conference call with family and friends from as far as Thailand to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ all together!” ― Sonja Brown
Family Slumber Party
“My son’s 7th birthday is today! We celebrated with a sibling slumber party in the living room with lots of pillows and blankets. We made cupcakes and had a video conference with family as he blew out his candles. He loved it!” ― Melissa Roldan-Stills
“Depending on where you live and the weather, if you own a tent you could have a backyard campout as a family. If you have a small fire pit, you could even make hot dogs and s’mores over a fire. Otherwise, you can buy those small Sterno cans and roast them over a smaller flame. My son loved doing this.” ― Olivia Hair
Quotes have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.