8 Ways to Have a Special Birthday {even if you’re stuck at home!}

Birthdays during Quarantine

I ended up totally bombing Brian’s 11th birthday. I had plans…real plans! I was going to surprise him and let him stay home from school. Or do a half-day. I hadn’t decided yet. Then, the government decided for me. Yep, his birthday was the first day of quarantine. All of our plans were canceled. Even worse–the things I had ordered for him online, the orders were canceled. His Sixers jersey, a lacrosse bounceback…all came from non-essential businesses, so our orders were canceled. We were going to shop for sports stuff, my parents were taking him to the Cheesecake Factory…all canceled.

Birthday Plan B

My kid ended up with nothing more than a handful of IOUs for “when this is over.” The Shake Milton jersey finally arrived. So did the bounceback. And, they were welcome bright spots during the quarantine. Still, I feel like it was a huge #MomFail on my part.

Having your birthday while you’re trapped at home and isolated from all your friends is hard for anyone, but it is especially hard for kids. But, just because you can’t go out and you can’t throw a birthday party doesn’t mean you can’t have a lot of fun! Here are just a few ideas for how to make birthdays special during self-isolation.

Birthday Party Ideas when you can’t leave the house.

  1. Make a Happy Birthday Video Montage-Get in touch with your child’s teacher and the parents of kids in their class along with the parents of all their friends from other places and ask them to make a short 1-2 minute video wishing your child a happy birthday. Then, as you get the videos back from them put them together and on the big day play the video on the TV. Be sure to get family in the video too! Have as many people as your child knows involved.
  2. Video Call from a Princess or Superhero-Just like you can hire a Princess or a Superhero for your child’s birthday party you can also hire them for a short chat with the birthday boy or girl. These calls last for about 15 minutes and are being done by the very same people who did the parties before. So call up your local Princess and see if she’s doing video calls.
  3. Host a Virtual Birthday Party-Get in touch with the parents of your kid’s closest friends and have a virtual birthday party over Zoom. This will give them all the opportunity to wish your child a happy birthday in person, or at least as in person as they can be.
  4. Raining Balloons-If you want to start your child’s birthday off with a surprise, hang some balloons up outside their bedroom door then make it so that when the door opens balloons rain down on top of them. It’s a fun surprise that your kids will love and it’s really easy to arrange.
  5. Bake Together-Make the day something memorable by having your child help bake their own birthday cake! Let them pick out the flavors and the frosting in advance and then on the big day have them act as your assistant throughout the whole baking process. Then, let them decorate the cake themselves and draw on top of the cake with colored frosting.
  6. Make Their Favorite Meal-Let the birthday boy/girl decide what dinner will be! If they end up asking for something that is closed you can find fantastic copycat recipes online for more major chains that taste just like the real thing. Also, instead of buying a pizza and having it delivered, make the pizza yourself! That way your kids can decide exactly what they want their pizzas to look like and what they want on it.
  7. Drive-by Parade-The drive-by birthday parade has been hugely popular since it was introduced. It starts by calling up everyone your child knows and asking them to drive past your house (slowly) at a certain time on their birthday. Encourage them to make signs, honk horns, and do whatever else they can think of. Then bring out the whole family as the birthday parade goes by.
  8. Face Painting-Finally, invest in some face paints and do face painting for the whole family! You can let the birthday boy/girl pick a theme for everyone to stick to or just let everyone decide for themselves what they want. You don’t need to be an amazing face painter to make kids happy, so don’t worry if you’ve never done it before.
  9. Karaoke– Get a cheap karaoke machine and have a fun karaoke night.

And, whatever you do, make sure you capture the special moment. Even a diary entry, 2-3 page scrapbook…because this is something that we’ll all want to look back on in years to come.

We’re all doing the best we can with what we have. Kids can be resilient if parents show them the way. This can also be a great learning opportunity on dealing with disappointment and how to deal with unmet expectations.

Remember, we can’t change the cards we’ve been dealt–we only decide how we play the hand.

  • Fine Motor Skills-Games, crafts and coloring activities are a great way to use and practice a child’s fine motor skills.
  • Speech and Language– Many parents seek out a language-rich environment for their child. Any activity can be an opportunity to use and repeat new words and language, mimicking sounds, new vocalizations and articulations.
  • Executive Functioning Skills– Depending on the game or activity, it can be an opportunity to practice executive functions such as working memory, sequencing, following directions, task initiation and more.
  • Handwriting and Fluency- This piggybacks onto the language skills a child needs, but with worksheets, coloring pages and games, they can be a low-risk opportunity to practice handwriting and fluency.
  • Practicing Previously Acquired Skills-Applying already acquired skills across all environments, bring the classroom teaching into the real world.
  • Sensory-Textures, sounds, taste, vestibular, interoception, anything!
  • Social Awareness-Practice traditional social skills in a safe environment, such as: joint attention, taking turns, reciprocating conversation, waiting politely, and more.
  • Gross Motor-If you’re in a new place, practice walking across uneven surfaces, new surfaces, inclines & declines, stairs, or increasing endurance.

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