My son’s first birthday is coming up, and we had been planning a big party. A couple of weeks ago, we decided to invite just family due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and last week, we realized there will be no party at all. We were sad; after all, it’s his first birthday, and while he won’t remember it, we will!
The next time we discussed it, my husband had really changed his tune, saying “think of the great story this will be for him!” And he’s right. We’ve decided to have a virtual birthday party, and are realizing it can be a lot of fun.
Are you in the same boat as us? Rather than rescinding any invitations you’ve sent out, it’s time to get excited and creative with these virtual birthday party ideas.
1. Invite Guests
There are plenty of ways to celebrate with family and friends while keeping your distance. If you already sent out paper invitations, contact everyone and give them information for a Zoom, FaceTime group, Google Hangout, or Skype call. If you sent electronic invitations, update them with links to the virtual party. If you haven’t sent invitations, send them! Greenvelope and evite have great options for kids. You and your child can have fun creating the invitations and sending them out to everyone.
Do not skip this; in fact, go overboard! Hang streamers from the bedroom door of the birthday boy or girl so that as soon as they get up, they know the day is going to be special. Pick a theme and run with it. If you need inspiration, Party City has loads of themed decorations, including Dr. Seuss, Alice in Wonderland, Star Wars, Harry Potter and more! Make sure the room you’ll be “broadcasting” the party from is decorated the most.
3. Have a Balloon Drop
Take some tulle (or other lightweight fabric that you can tie/tape up) and cut it in half. Using masking tape, make a tail (for pulling) and carefully tape the two pieces of tulle together to create a seam. Masking tape is key as it will hold the pieces together, but will also will separate from the fabric easily. If you have rafters, tie the corners of the fabric to the rafters/beams to create a “basket.” If you don’t have beams/rafters, just tape to the ceiling using painter’s tape or masking tape. After you get all four corners anchored, you may need to adjust them to the desired height. Next, blow up the balloons using a pump, unless you’ve got helpers to blow them all up. As you blow them up, stuff them into the tulle “basket.” Then when you’re ready for the drop, pull the tape tail you created, open the seam and it’s raining balloons! Grandparents will love watching the grandkids dance around.
4. Hire a Virtual Entertainer
Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t have some type of entertainment! Hire someone who can entertain the kids via video—a dance teacher for a dance party, a puppeteer, a magician, even a singer! For a project-based party, find someone to host a class in cupcake making, cooking, or painting. Everyone on the video will be able to see the instructor, and it’s a great way to provide some entertainment. Several princess/hero party companies are now offering virtual options, with birthday messages or bedtime stories. Contact your local princess party company to see what they’re offering. Or, enlist a friend (or maybe a friend of a friend your child doesn’t know) to dress up as a character as a surprise virtual guest!
5. Play Games
Believe it or not, you can still play games even if you aren’t all in the same room. Pictionary, charades, and even Taboo are all games you can easily play virtually. If people don’t own the games, this website will generate words for you to use, and if you’re playing Pictionary, all the guests will need is paper and a marker! Older kids can all play Jackbox games, online games that only one person has to own; that person starts a game and gets a code for everyone else to put in on their app.
6. Have a Movie Party
For older kids, they can host a Netflix Party, where everyone can watch a movie together and chat. Alternatively, for younger kids, you can also share your screen in a group video chat, stream a movie, and have everyone log into Zoom and actually watch it together. Ahead of the party, you can send movie packs to the guests, with popcorn and candy.
7. Dress Up
Either in dressy clothes or in costumes! Encourage the “guests” to as well. This encourages everyone to dress in something other than leggings and pajamas, and adds a fun element to the party, too. If you’re having a themed party, have everyone dress up as a character, or, if there’s no theme, just ask everyone to dress up in their finest clothes.
Guests can mail/drop off (at a safe distance) the presents ahead of time, which you can save for the gift-opening portion of the party, or, if you’re short on time, you can have guests open the presents for the person celebrating their birthday. If you’re really ambitious, since most places won’t wrap a gift before shipping, guests can tell you ahead of time what gift they sent, you can open each package as it comes, and wrap it! If you don’t do it this way, for younger kids, you may want to pre-open the boxes with a box cutter or scissors to save time.
9. Don’t Forget the Cake!
If you do nothing else, you have to have everyone sing “Happy Birthday” with the birthday boy/girl blowing out the candles! It doesn’t just have to be a bunch of people watching the child with cake, either. You can get creative here! Whole Foods bakery items are available for order using Amazon Prime, and they have loads of small cakes and cupcakes you can order and have delivered ahead of time to guests. It may seem like a lot, but think of the money you’re saving on food by not having a regular party. If most people are local, you could see if a local bakery could help you out with cupcakes. You can always bake cupcakes and deliver them to guests’ mailboxes. Whether or not you supply guests with treats, you’ll still have to sing!