It’s one of the most exciting days of the year, so how do you make your child’s birthday special during social distancing?
For August Chessman, who celebrated his first birthday last Friday, parents Alexandra Whiting and Christian Chessman turned to the craft box to create a day the whole family would remember.
“Just because it wasn’t going to be the big gathering we’d hoped, didn’t mean we couldn’t decorate,” says Whiting. “I made a backdrop and party hats, which the adults humoured me by wearing, and we had two party sessions at home so both sides of our family could come and celebrate.”
We’ve found four options children will love and some grownup get-together ideas too. Just because guest numbers are limited, it doesn’t mean the imagination has to be.
THE BIRTHDAY PARADE
You might have seen clips of birthday drive-by parties happening and for good reason: it’s a clever and creative way to celebrate in these strange times. Simply ask friends and family to do a pre-arranged slow (and safe) roll past your home, to yell out birthday wishes.
“Post an invite and include some balloons in your child’s favourite colour, asking friends to drive past at a certain time with their car decorated,” says Katherine Elia from On The Table Events. “Have a personal goodie bag ready for each of the ‘guests’ and perhaps a slice of birthday cake too,” she says. Add a few decorations to your front lawn, blast some music and your child gets a party parade, without any cleaning up.
THE OUTDOOR HOME CINEMA
As restrictions start to lift, it’s becoming possible to host a small number of guests, while practising social distancing. A backyard cinema, where you project a favourite film onto a wall or sheet fits the bill perfectly. You can space out beanbags and make custom snack plates for each child. This is a clever way for them to enjoy one activity while getting some fresh air. String up lanterns, add balloons and even organise matching blankets and beanies.
THE ZOOM PARTY
It’s easy to turn your TV into a party portal with an at-home celebration that friends can log into. “It’s still important to send out an invitation for a virtual party,” says Elia. “A physical invite in the mail will be even more fun during this over-saturated digital time,” she explains.
You could include some themed decorations or party hats for guests, and adding an entertainer who joins in to do a magic show or host a dance party will take the pressure off parents. “Keep the party time to 30-45 minutes. It’s hard to keep kids engaged online any longer,” recommends Elia.
THE VIRTUAL CRAFT PARTY
Deliver craft boxes to guests beforehand and at celebration time, get creative together, virtually. There are lots of businesses making activity kits (try Peeky Me and Fun Box) so you could order them online and have interstate guests “attend” too. Or, you can make your own and have a theme like LEGO where kids all whip up the same creation to compare and keep.
If you’re tired of screen time thanks to endless work meetings but you can’t yet do a catch up in person, give your virtual gettogether a makeover. “I planned a Zoom dinner where each couple made pizzas and drank Italian wine,” says Elia. “It was interactive, fun and took the pressure off having to keep the conversation fresh,” she says. Or if you can have a few people over, plan ahead to make the best use of your space.
“Consider entertaining guests outside and if it’s cold, perhaps invest in a small outdoor heater and lots of fairy lights and candles,” says Elia.
“If you only have an indoor space available, host a cocktail event so guests are not ‘glued’ to a dining table and can move around,” she says. “Rather than serving grazing boards or shared platters, get creative with individual meals like Japanese bento sets, burger boxes or mini cheese and charcuterie boards.”
We can still get together, with a little ingenuity.
BY ALEXIS TEASDALE
This article is from the May 24, 2020 issue of The Age Digital Edition.