You had planned a fierce laser tag birthday party with fifteen kids dressed in ninja costumes, or maybe you were going mellow with a movie and cake. Whatever birthday plans were in the works were sadly canceled this year due to the coronavirus. So, how will you celebrate your sweet child’s new year? Parents are becoming increasingly creative in planning at-home birthday celebrations for kids—ones that are just as much fun as the real thing.
Plan a drive-by parade
One popular new way to celebrate a birthday (or any milestone) while maintaining social distance is to drive by the houses of friends—who then pop outside with signs and cheers. You can also ask friends to drive up to your house to sing happy birthday from a safe distance away—while the birthday girl sits on a decorated chair or throne in the front yard. For city kids, revelers can shout out their birthday wishes or hold up signs in view of an apartment window or from across the street.
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Throw a video chat party
Invite your kid’s friends to be on a Zoom, House Party, Facetime, or Google Hangouts to wish him a happy day. For younger kids, family members can be the invitees—we can guarantee that very few will have other plans. Let the party-viewers watch while the birthday boy blows out his candles and opens his gifts. In addition, ask friends and relatives to record their birthday wishes on video and email them to you. Or better yet, use the Marco Polo app for group cards that you can create with different visual filters and voice effects. You can even download fun Zoom background templates from Canva to ‘transform’ your kids’ birthday celebration to the location or theme of choice.
Host a virtual game night
Virtually gather your kids’ friends at a designated time on a video game system (such as a Playstation or Xbox). If you don’t own one, Facebook’s Instant Games offers games like Scrabble, Uno and Cribbage that kids can play online together. Or try your hands at Crazy 8s, Checkers or Go Fish with PlayingCards.io which allows for chatting and a Zoom video linkup. For more ideas, see Wirecutter’s guide to hosting virtual game nights. House Party also offers a variety of games to play over video chat that is appropriate for all ages.
Live stream a performance
If you were already planning to hire a party performer, inquire whether that person could live-stream her show or provide a previously taped performance. Then invite friends with a video-call link. Even if you hadn’t intended to go in this direction, ask around to see if someone somewhere (geography doesn’t matter here) can stream a live performance of, say, a magic show or a clown stunt. One idea—Ever After Princess supplies a prince or princess to MC the virtual hang or you can schedule a free, personalized birthday message with NYC Birthday Clowns.
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Shana Liebman is the features editor of NYMetroParents. She’s a writer and editor who has worked for magazines including New York Magazine, Salon, and Travel & Leisure,—and she is the mom of two energetic little boys.