How to Have a Happy Birthday…Even on Lockdown

By Haley Nelson

Has this pandemic-induced quarantine put a damper on your child’s birthday party? Wondering how to celebrate your child’s special day while under lockdown? We brainstormed, researched and asked other parents to share their tips. The COVID-19 virus may have canceled your previous plans, but you can still make it a wonderful day.

Here are 20 creative ideas for at-home celebrations while we practice social distancing:

1. Contact the parents of your kid’s classmates and ask them to send cards/drawings/letters to the birthday boy or girl so you can collect them in a box to wrap up.

2. Rally your friends and family for a neighborhood parade. Ask them to drive past your house at a certain time and honk and wave! For extra fun, they could decorate their cars, decorate the people in the cars, wave pom-poms or streamers, and play some festive birthday music from inside. Make it fun and interactive!

3. Ask neighbors to put signs in their windows and then take a special birthday walk to see the birthday wishes.

4. Invite friends to come over the day/night before with their own chalk to draw special birthday messages on the driveway.

5. Arrange a virtual party. Send out an invite for a big video chat over whatever video conferencing software you want (Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime). Organize an activity such as a virtual dance party, a rollicking game of “Simon Says,” or even a timed scavenger hunt for kids to hunt for things in their own homes (a green crayon, a rubber band, a stuffed animal, etc.).

6. Make it feel like a real party event by popping popcorn, setting out snacks, playing music, decorating with balloons, making DIY birthday signs and creating an atmosphere of fun.

7. Let the birthday child help bake and decorate a cake, cupcakes or cookies.

8. Host an online karaoke party.

9. Create a treasure hunt. Hide little presents all over the house and/or yard and have them solve clues to find the next spot that a present is hiding.

10. Have an at-home pinata smash.

11. Plan an indoor campout with sleeping bags on the living room floor (and maybe even a pop-up tent).

12. Ask friends and family to send birthday videos. Bonus idea: Ask a techy friend or family member to piece the messages together into one big montage.

13. Explore contact-free takeout to make the birthday meal special. Many ice cream spots are also offering takeout. Call your favorite restaurant to see if they’re still open for takeout.

14. Let the birthday child have a “Yes” day where they can ask for anything (within reason, of course). Ice cream for breakfast? Yes. Afternoon movies in pajamas? Yes. Have the whole family dress up in mismatched clothes and funny hats? Yes. Kids will remember that more than anything.

15. Fill their room with balloons and streamers while they’re sleeping for a whimsical surprise.

16. FaceTime with grandparents and friends to sing “Happy Birthday” and watch the birthday child blow out the candles.

17. Make a DIY photo booth complete with silly props to create fun family memories for years to come.

18. Surprise your child with a virtual visit from a superhero or princess character. JAM Character Parties, for example, offers 5-minute short video messages for $10 and 15-minute video chats for $20.

19. Create a fancy meal (even if it is just mac and cheese) by dressing up, lighting candles and drinking from fancy glasses.

20. Build a backyard fire and cook hot dogs and s’mores.

How have you celebrated your child’s birthday during quarantine? Do you have an idea or COVID-19 birthday story to tell? We’d love to hear about it. Share it with us at