Quarantine celebrations are a challenge, but these tips for throwing a virtual birthday bash will help make any occasion more festive.
If I’m being completely honest, first birthdays are more for the family than for the guest of honor. At least that’s what I told myself when it came time to cancel my party venue and accept that my son’s first birthday would be held under quarantine. Once we adjusted our plans, we decided we wanted to focus on the simple things; moments of celebration with our immediate and extended family. So we revised our invitations and let our loved ones know how to join our virtual birthday party.
1. Conference Call Software
We used an app called Houseparty, which allowed people to simply pop in and out at any time during the duration of our two-hour ‘party.’ One limitation was that we could only have eight people on a line at a time, so we used three phones to access more people in different virtual ‘rooms.’ It was a little cumbersome, but the chaos just added to the random fun. We had over 30 ‘guests’ join us with as many as 15 going at any given time.
A benefit of the app is that we could play guessing games in each room, which helped keep things festive. No one was stuck just staring at the baby the whole time. Other people might prefer Zoom or Facetime or other apps for their connection.
2. Simple Decorations
I’m not a decorating aficionado, but I do feel some pressure to make an “Insta-worthy” setup for my parties. As soon as we began our original 1st Birthday plan, I settled on a simple theme (rainbows) and ordered a couple of party decoration packs online. Though I considered returning them at first, I realized that decorating our front door and a little throne-like set up for the baby would help us all feel festive. We positioned his high chair in front of his birthday banners and hung a few colorful streamers. We put a banner on our front door and made sure to take a family portrait out front.
3. Party Favors
Another set of items I’d ordered in advance were party favor packs of horns, hats, and bubbles. We wore the hats for our designated party hours, tooted the horns, and blew bubbles throughout our conference call. I have a feeling the bubbles will be used frequently while we’re indoors and in the yard this spring. And the horns are a great dinner round-up tool!
4. Cupcakes & 5. Candles
My quarantine cabinet has the materials I could have used to make a cake, and I have made some banana bread during this time ‘off,’ but I decided to take it easy on this one. I ventured out to our local grocery store and picked up cupcakes with rainbow sprinkles and rainbow candles. (The candles were important because I recently flubbed at my 8-year-olds birthday party because I forgot the candles, and he ended up having to blow out a large decorative candle for his birthday wish. Oops.)
6. Sidewalk chalk
When we go out for an occasional walk, I’ve noticed that several neighbors have used sidewalk chalk to make fantastical creations in their driveways. I figured this would be another fun element for the day and the duration of our warm-weather days. My elder son enjoyed drawing all kinds of colorful images up and down our driveway. A week later, we still have remnants of his masterpiece.
7. Patience & 8. Laughter
Sometimes party planning can be stressful. With my family of four all under the same roof 90% of the time for the last several weeks and the foreseeable future, I knew I wanted to keep this virtual birthday party light and fun. We set achievable goals. We relied on one another for preparation and party-time support. We spent quality time in advance with elder family members while helping them download and test the app. We gave ourselves permission to keep everything simple and take it easy.
In the end, we got to share our milestone as a family with the people we care for. When we look back on the photos and reflect on the memories, I know it will always be a day to remember and cherish.