My son turned 15 during Phase 2 of the reopening plans in our state, Illinois. We were under a state-wide shelter-in-place order, visiting our family and friends only when necessary from a considerable distance and with masks. Therefore, any way to celebrate a birthday the traditional way was out of the question. I decided to come up with ideas to put together a birthday celebration at the time of coronavirus pandemic with social distancing.
The two most popular ideas for any celebration, including birthdays and graduations during quarantine were:
Front lawn installations
Front lawn or yard installations of balloons and banners for birthdays and graduations are one of the few booming businesses during the economic downturn due to COVID-19 lockdowns and business closures. There are so many options from simple banners to quite impressive setups of frames and balloons, I couldn’t decide which one my son would like more. In addition, I knew we weren’t having a car parade and I couldn’t justify paying that much for yard installation just for us. As always I procrastinated late enough that most nearby businesses were already booked on my son’s birthday. Decision made: I needed to find a DIY solution.
I came by this idea on our neighborhood Facebook group the day before the birthday. I hit our local Dollar Store at 9 am as they opened their doors for the day. I picked up the materials and our installation was done by 10:30 am.
Materials needed for the front yard birthday decoration
- Pool noodles (Count: Age of the birthday person /2)
- Black duct tape or painters /masking tape
- Crepe paper streamers
- Birthday banner
- Posterboard + yard stake
- Birthday number balloons
- Measuring tape
Materials used in this project
- Measure and cut the pool noodles in hand using a handsaw
- Tape the noodles diagonally using the wide black tape to make birthday candles
- Take the gold or yellow color crepe paper streamer roll. Make folds of 6-inch-long around 6 to 8 times. Twist one end.
- Insert the twisted end of the crepe paper streamer in the hole ofn one end of the pool noodle.
- Repeat this to make enough candles for the age count of the birthday owner.
- Install the pool noodle candles using sticks or stakes. I used camping stakes and fatwood firestarters.
- My daughter helped me make a birthday poster
- I hung the birthday banner and balloons
- I put the “1” and “5” balloons on the flowerboxes.
This was it. My son was happy to see the surprise (thanks procrastination) front yard decor. We took family photos in front of it.
Surprise Zoom Party
I mentioned that we didn’t have a car parade. A really kind friend of my son organized a surprise birthday party on Zoom for him. This was the highlight of not only his birthday but the whole pandemic shelter-in-place for the last 3 months up until his birthday. it required a bit of coordination and involvement of friends from different circles. I’ll be forever grateful for everyone who organized and attended. It really meant a lot.
Video Birthday Messages
In addition to the surprise Zoom Party, we had face-to-face calls with our extended family in Turkey on Facetime and WhatsApp. Due to time difference and since we had to connect almost everyone virtually there wasn’t enough time to talk everyone live. Therefore, some of our family members sent prerecorded videos to celebrate his birthday.
We didn’t coordinate this but you can definitely coordinate friends and family to have them record and send videos. If you are technically capable you can ask everyone to record themselves singing “happy birthday song” and then put them together to make a video montage.
Birthday Celebration from a Celebrity by Cameo
This is a fun way to celebrate the birthday of a loved one if they have a celebrity crush. My brother-in-law got this gift for a friend on his birthday. You can get a celebrity record a personalized message as a gift through a website called Cameo. There are so many actors, actresses, athletes, musicians, etc. on their roster. “A personalized message from their favorite celebrity might be the best gift of 2020.
Take-out from their favorite restaurant / cafe
Besides his ice-cream cake, the most delicious part of my son’s birthday was his favorite bubble tea from his favorite cafe delivered by his best friend. Even though patios and outdoor dining areas are open in some states now, ordering favorite dishes and drinks from the favorite restaurant and cafe and dining in is still a safer option.
Special Groups Cards signed by family and friends
As all parts of the special day celebration go online thanks to Zoom parties, group calls, video messages, etc. you can also create a special group card online. You can either deliver it online or print it out to present it in person. If you google “online group birthday cards” you’ll see a few options. Openme.com is free.
Movie night in the backyard
As I mentioned, at the time of my son’s birthday party, even the outdoor gatherings were limited to a group of 6. A party for a mid-size group of teens even outdoors was out of a question for us. A movie night in the backyard, where visitors are spaced out and not moving around a lot is an ideal option for a socially distanced get together. We recently purchased a movie projector for the backyard and it’s quite fun to watch Marvel movies on a big screen under the stars.
Virtual game events (similar to gaming rooms but all players stay in their homes) for school-aged kids and teens are another option it feels like every day is a virtual game event for the kids this summer.
If you had to celebrate your kid’s birthday during quarantine, feel free to share what you have done to make it special in the comments.
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