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
- Have a painting party in your home! A Taste of Artistry’s Paint Studio (a 2019 Bucks Happening List Finalist) is offering To-Go Paint Kits. Choose from available designs or request a custom order. Kits include canvas with a drawing for the child to paint, paint and brushes. Pricing starts at $10 for an 8 x 10 canvas. Pay with Venmo or PayPal and then pickup curbside in Bristol Borough.
- Sing Along Princess Parties (a 2019 Bucks Happening List Finalist) is offering personalized birthday videos for a low cost. Just send a Facebook message for more details.
- Bouncing Off the Walls has Birthday Kits for sale, either by pickup or delivery. The kits include one monthly bounce pass, BOTW color changing craft, a craft, goodie bag, and a birthday card from Bouncing Off the Walls. The kit is $40. They’re also selling Melissa & Doug toys, puzzles, and crafts. Visit the Facebook page and send a message to order.
- 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.Philly Style Soft Pretzel Bakery (a 2019 Happening List Finalist) is open for pickup and also on Grub Hub and Uber Eats from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Order a tray of mini pretzel dogs for the picnic!
- 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 Bucks County spots currently offering takeout/delivery, many with family-style meals:
Isaac Newton's Bar & Restaurant (Newtown), 2019 Bucks Happening List Winner for Kid-Friendly
Jules Pizza (Doylestown, Newtown), 2019 Bucks Happening List Finalist for Kid-Friendly
Giuseppe's Pizza & Family Restaurant (Warminster), 2019 Bucks Happening List Finalist for Kid-Friendly
Annabella's Italian Restaurant (Bristol), 2019 Bucks Happening List Winner for Italian
Piccolo Trattoria (Newtown), 2019 Bucks Happening List Finalist for Italian, Pizza
The Perk (Perkasie), 2019 Bucks Happening List Winner for Burger
Steam Pub (Southampton), 2019 Bucks Happening List Finalist for Burger, Appetizer
Fireside Smokehouse (Feasterville), 2019 Bucks Happening List Finalist for Appetizer
The Pineville Tavern (Pineville), 2019 Bucks Happening List Finalist for New American, Appetizer
Itri Wood Fired (Bristol), 2019 Bucks Happening List Winner for Pizza
Gianni's Pizza (Richboro), 2019 Bucks Happening List Finalist for Pizza
Chuck's BBQ (Bristol), 2019 Bucks Happening List Finalist for Sandwich
Caleb's American Kitchen (Lahaska), 2019 Bucks Happening List Finalist for French Fries
- If you want dinner to be an activity too, get the family involved in making the meal. Several local pizza spots like Bella Maria Tomato Pies in Bensalem and Giuseppe's Pizza & Family Restaurant in Warminster 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. Nothing Bundt Cakes (a 2019 Happening List Finalist) is offering delivery and curbside pickup at some locations. Factory Girl Bake Shop in New Hope is posting daily offerings and is also accepting email orders with 3 days notice for pickup. Piazza’s in Levittown has been open daily for curbside pickup or delivery.
- Set up an ice cream sundae bar with tons of toppings. (Chopped up Easter candy is great for this!) OWowCow (Newtown/Ottsville) is open for curbside pickup!
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!