By Michelle Reese
While just about everything is cancelled these days due to the coronavirus pandemic, birthdays are not cancelled! If your child’s birthday falls during this time of social distancing and quarantine, you might be stressing over cancelled parties and just a general lack of fun things to do. So we’re here with a list of ideas on how you can still make sure your child feels extra special! (And who knows, you just might find a new tradition that you’ll continue even after this all passes!)
Go All Out with Decorations
- If you already had decorations ready for a party, go ahead and put them up! If you hang them carefully (sticky putty is great for this), you can always reuse them if you have the party later.
- Make use of balloons! (Most grocery stores will have them, so pick some up when you make your next food run if you don’t have them at home.) If the child is a heavy sleeper, pile them on their bed or on the floor while they’re sleeping. What a fun surprise to wake up to! Otherwise, decorate another room in the house. Hang them from from the ceiling. They’re fun decor, and you can play games with the balloons throughout the day. Here’s a link to 10 Fun Indoor Games with Balloons.
- The day before, secretly give everyone in the house small pieces of paper or sticky notes. Ask them to write down things they love about the Birthday Kid. Then after he/she goes to bed, put them all over their bedroom door or another spot that’s prominent in the house.
Get Friends & Family Involved
- A few days before, send out an email or text requesting that friends and relatives either record a birthday message to send, or try to coordinate a schedule where someone FaceTimes the birthday child every hour.
- If you have enough time, ask people to send cards in the mail. Every kid likes getting a special delivery!
- Set up a Zoom call so friends and family can sing “Happy Birthday” together.
- If you have friends in your neighborhood, ask them to make Happy Birthday signs and hang them in their windows or front door. Then take a birthday walk or bike ride around the neighborhood to see them. (Birthday crown, balloon on the wrist and portable speaker playing birthday music optional.)
- See if friends/family would be willing to visit your front yard throughout the day. They could leave birthday cards, little DIY gifts, or just honk their horn and yell “Happy Birthday!”
- Make a sign to put outside your house asking people to leave birthday chalk messages on your driveway.
Make Your Own Party
- Play games! Of course, you can break out the standard family favorites. But you could also play some old school birthday party classics like freeze dance and musical chairs. If you don’t have a lot of kids in your house (and/or your kids are a little older) try setting up something remote with friends. If you all have the same game, you can play together using FaceTime. (Just move eachother’s pieces so your boards match.)
- Plan a birthday themed scavenger hunt! (You could even hide things like candles, cake mix, balloons, etc. that you’ll use the rest of the day. Here are a few links with ideas: A Super Fun Birthday Scavenger Hunt with free printables, 12 Birthday Scavenger Hunt Ideas, How to Create a Birthday Scavenger Hunt
- Chirp Workshop, our 2019 Happening List Winner for Kids Parties is offering canvas painting and stuff-a-plus kits that you can pickup to do at home! Paint Party Studio is also offering paint-at-home kits.
- Build forts and have a movie marathon. Make special popcorn for a snack. Add parmesan cheese, melted chocolate drizzle, or cinnamon sugar. Here are some links for even more ideas: Homemade Popcorn Seasoning, 50 Best Popcorn Recipes, Puppy Chow Popcorn.
- Or make use of the new Netflix Party extension on Google Chrome that allows friends to get together virtually and watch Netflix titles on their computers at the same time. The extension also comes with a chat room, so the Birthday Kid can talk to friends while watching.
- And if all else fails, make them Birthday King or Queen of the Day – let them choose how the day should be spent!
Feast on Festive Food
- Start the day with any breakfast favorites you’re able to get. And if possible, “dress them up” for the occasion. Here’s a link to Birthday Cake Waffles, Princess Pancakes, Birthday Cake Cinnamon Rolls,or Birthday Cake Muffins. Basically, any time you can add chocolate, whipped cream or sprinkles, go for it.
- Serve breakfast in bed! (Or breakfast in Mommy & Daddy’s bed could be a fun treat, too!)
- If it’s nice out, have a picnic lunch! Take your lunch to a nearby park or field that’s open, or just set up in the backyard. Play some music and get out any yard games you might have.
- Make their favorite dinner! (This is a no brainer.)
- Or, order takeout or delivery from a local spot. You could even make tweaks in your house to feel more restaurant-like. Some ideas include getting out the fancy dishes, tablecloth and candles usually reserved for holidays, playing background music, setting out coloring pages for the kids during appetizers, or getting dressed up for the meal.Here are just some of the Hunterdon County spots currently offering takeout/delivery, many with family-style meals:
Designer Dawgs (Clinton), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Winner for Kid Friendly
Jersey Mike’s Subs (Flemington), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Kid Friendly
Lennys Pizza (Flemington), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Kid FriendlyDuke’s Pizzeria & Restaurant (Pittstown), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Winner for Pizza
Market Pizza (Stockton), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Pizza
Cafe Maria (Frenchtown), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Pizza
El Molcajete Mexican Restaurant (Flemington), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Winner for Mexican
Los Chilitos (Lebanon), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Mexican
Viva Mexico (Flemington), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Mexican
Chelseas Restaurant and Pub (Lebanon), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Winner for Burger
Ship Inn (Milford), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Burger and Fries
Ye Olde Sub Base (Clinton), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Winner for Sandwich
DiNapoli’s (Lambertville), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Sandwich
Marinelli’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant (Flemington), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Sandwich
Pipolos Pizza (Milford), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Cheesesteak
El Tule Mexican and Peruvian Restaurant (Lambertville), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for BYOB
Pru Thai (Clinton), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Thai
- If you want dinner to be an activity too, get the family involved in making the meal. Several local pizza spots (like Marinelli’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant in Flemington, are offering make-at-home pizza kits during this time.
- Bake and decorate a birthday cake together. Let them go crazy with candy, sprinkles, frosting, and cookie crumbs. Need some inspiration? Watch Kids Baking Championship together first!
- Or, check to see if your local bakery is still open for pickup or delivery and order a small cake for your family.
Here are a few currently open for takeout:
Sweet Melissa Patisserie (Lebanon), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Winner for Bakery
Chocolate In The Oven (Milford), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Winner for Specialty Cake Design
Market Roost Catering, Restaurant & Bakery (Flemington), 2019 Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Specialty Cake Design
- Set up an ice cream sundae bar with tons of toppings. (Chopped up Easter candy is great for this!)
Most importantly, your child just wants to feel special and loved. And when this is all over, you can always throw the biggest un-birthday party ever!