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Event planners and moms share creative tips for celebrating a child's birthday during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Samantha Lande
Updated April 01, 2020
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Having a kid turn a year older while mandated to stay at home may not feel like such a happy birthday, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still make it an awesome celebration. Though friends and extended family aren’t right there with you, it doesn’t mean they can’t be a huge part of the day. Get creative! Here are eight ways to plan an epic—and safe—kid’s birthday party during the coronavirus pandemic.

1
Plan in advance like you would a normal party.

“Plan, don’t panic,” says event planner Sarah Neukom, co-founder of ESP Presents and Exchange312, an event planning company and event space in Chicago. Even if you aren’t going to a venue, it still helps to have that checklist of things “that make a party a party” and a flow of the day. If you need to order a cake, ask your guests to do something in advance, or order decorations, it will make it much easier to do with an advanced plan. Ask your guests to get in on the fun—let them know how they can help make the day special and we are certain they’ll oblige with a craft, card, or simply singing happy Birthday.

2
Have a theme.

There are no restraints on creativity during social distancing. Take a cue from mom Amanda S., who knew her daughter always wanted to take a trip to Paris. She set up a Paris-themed birthday, complete with Eiffel Tower decals on her window, croissants and macarons for breakfast, and a coloring book of France. Dara M. couldn’t take her daughter to a fancy restaurant, so she brought the restaurant to her: they dressed up in their nicest clothes, lit candles, and prepared a fancy meal of her favorite foods.

3
Set up a parade.

If you have time to plan, set up a parade of cars to go by at different times of the day. Friends, family, even teachers can join in by decorating their cars with happy birthday signs, balloons, streamers, and blasting your child’s favorite tunes and honking their horns. Have them let you know what time they are coming so your kid can stand on the porch or view the show through the window.

4
Consider a special guest appearance.

Cameo, the website where you can book celebrity video shout-outs, has become a popular choice for birthday wishes, especially now. You can also book through Storybook entertainment for a video from your favorite princess or superhero. Comedians are also available to book via Comedy on Call for a few laughs.

5
Choose over-the-top decorations.

Hang streamers from their door, put balloons around the house, even decorate the exterior with huge banners. Companies like Sign Dreamers can set up giant yard signs. Luftmensch Designs created this free party pack with decorations, party hats, and coloring pages friends can do and drop off. Chalk your driveway with “honk for the birthday boy/girl” or have friends leave birthday messages if they pass your house.

6
Have an activity.

It helps to have some kind of activity for the day, whether it’s as simple as gathering friends via Zoom for happy birthday wishes, or hiring someone to do an online cooking class with a group of friends like the ones offered by kids cooking school The Kids’ Table. Neukom suggests telling friends to buy a frozen pizza and all setting the oven at the same time, so kids can enjoy pizza over Zoom. You could also set up karaoke for free through Stingray and perform over Google hangouts, FaceTime or Zoom. Or create a Spotify playlist and play freeze dance. You can also wrap little gifts around the house or ask neighbors to put up happy birthday signs in their windows and go on a walk to find them.

7
Don't forget dessert!

My son turned eight and is obsessed with the show Buddy vs. Duff, so we ordered him eight slices of cake from Buddy Valastro’s Carlos Bakery via Goldbelly. It’s also a great time to support local bakeries that are still making cakes or cupcakes, or break out the cake mix and frosting and make your own. You can even make a sundae bar with ice cream and all the toppings.

8
Create a keepsake.

Sure, this may not be a time in our lives we’ll want to commemorate, but it’s a nice time to leave the birthday kid with something extra special. Have all your friends send videos into Tribute and they’ll create a video montage of their wishes, or create your own if you are iMovie savvy. Put together a scrapbook of all of the handmade cards and don’t forget to snap pics of your kid blowing out candles—just like you would for any birthday.