Don’t worry—birthdays AREN’T canceled.

By Annie Campbell
May 13, 2020
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Of all the things social distancing has really taken a toll on, birthdays rank high on the list. Birthdays are usually a time to gather with friends and family, and celebrate an exciting new year ahead. And as it turns out, they still can be. Following public health guidelines and social distancing practices, you can still have a special and (perhaps arguably more) memorable celebration. 

Nicole McLaughlin, star of Mom Vs., planned a surprise neighborhood birthday party for her teen during quarantine, and she shared with us her best tips for pulling it off. 

Establish a theme 

To put on a truly unforgettable birthday celebration, start by coming up with a theme, whether that be sports, a pajama party, or something totally unique to the celebrant. Not only will this help in visualizing the day, but it will also guide decoration crafts, colors, balloons, party favors, etc. Nicole chose a Mardi Gras theme—or rather Marley Gras for her daughter, Marley.

Prepare a guest list that includes everyone 

This is a time where the amount of people doesn’t really affect the cost, so there’s no need to keep the number of guests down. Also, remember that everyone won’t be able to make it, so why not!

Personalize it

The more personal the touches, the more the honoree will remember (and cherish the occasion). Party favors, like the personalized t-shirts Nicole made, can also help the guests remember the nontraditional celebration. Other ideas include a photo album, picture frame, ornament, sash, or banner. Nicole was also inspired by a friend who asked her child’s friends to send in short video messages that were then complied and played at the end of the day.

Lie (out of love) to your kids

“Tell them whatever is necessary to keep this a surprise.  That raw reaction to the unexpected showering of love is priceless,” said Nicole.

Don’t forget the cake 

Because what’s a birthday party without cake? For the parade, individually wrapped cakes, such as Little Debbie Birthday Cakes will do the trick. The portions are perfect, and there’s no worry of any contamination taking place (as long as you remember to wear gloves!). You can even toss them to the “guests” from a safe distance. A small, regular birthday cake can be shared by the immediate family later on.

Take pictures 

Don’t forget to document this wacky and fun-filled day. The birthday girl or boy will want to have these memories down the road to share with their children. 

Don’t focus on what you can't do—just do what you can

“Things that make a memorable occasion don’t have to be expensive or over the top.  Make the whole day leading up to, and after the parade, all about them.  Begin by making their favorite breakfast, and prepare the meals according to their favorites.  Play old movies and tell stories about their life.  Decorate their bedroom or play their favorite music,” Nicole suggests.

PS: This type of party can easily extend well beyond social distancing. It's a great option for someone who is unable to have a party due to illness or special circumstances, or for times when weather causes cancellations. For birthdays, weddings, or holidays—the party must go on.