Celebrating your birthday during a pandemic poses a bit of a challenge, but the current downturn of large social gatherings doesn’t have to mean the downturn of fun. As long as you’re following social distancing guidelines and other recommended safety measures, you can gather physically for a picnic, outdoor movie night, car circle, or camping trip. If you’re celebrating a birthday with friends and family who live far away or are unable to physically gather for other reasons, there are still lots of opportunities to socially connect in a creative way over Zoom and other platforms. Keep reading for in-person and virtual birthday celebration ideas and tips.

Social Distancing Basics

Social distancing is now a widely accepted practice that protects you and others from the Covid-19 virus. If you’re holding a physical gathering, require your guests to wear masks and stay at least six feet away from non-family members or roommates. You can mark off areas that are six feet apart as an additional precaution. Have hand sanitizer ready for your guests to use and be sure to set up food and drink in a social-distancing-friendly way if you’re serving anything.

It’s important to make sure everyone feels comfortable with your setup, including you — ask your guests if they’re okay with your arrangement and be sure to speak up if someone crosses your boundaries for Covid safety.

In-Person Birthday Gatherings

There are many ways to make your birthday fun while still following social distancing guidelines. Here are a few ideas to try out if you’re planning a birthday party for someone else or if you’re hosting a birthday party during the Covid-19 pandemic.

1. Birthday Picnic

social distancing birthday picnic

Picnics are the perfect social distancing activity, weather-permitting, of course. Keep it casual or plan a more structured celebration by picking a theme. Pick a favorite sports team, hobby, time period, movie/TV show, or trend and use it as inspiration for your outfits, food, and activities. Host a 70’s themed picnic with a hippie dress code or wear striped shirts for a Parisian painting party — get as creative as you want! It can be hard to connect with your friends in a way you’re not used to, so planning an activity to go along with your theme keeps the conversation flowing.

You can order takeout for each person or have everybody bring their own food — again, check in about what your guests are comfortable with and go from there. Don’t skimp on dessert!

2. Birthday Car Parade

social distancing birthday car parade

If you’re lucky enough to have your friends and family close by, a car parade is great way to see lots your loved ones without getting too close to each other. This is best planned as a surprise for somebody else’s birthday, but there’s no shame in taking your celebration into your own hands. If you’re surprising someone else, make sure to have the visitors decorate their cars with signs and balloons and honk as they go by for an extra special parade.

If your parade is made up of a smaller group of people, opt for a car circle picnic afterwards. Find an open space nearby, park your cars in a circle, and enjoy some social time from your trunks!

3. Outdoor Movie Night

social distancing birthday outdoor movie night

For a small, casual birthday gathering, consider throwing an outdoor movie night. If you have a projector, set up a sheet and some distanced seating anywhere outside. Make it cozy with blankets, pillows, dinner or snacks, and lighting. If you don’t have a projector, find a drive-in movie theater near you. You can still bring all the blankets, pillows, and snacks!

4. Birthday Camping or Hiking

social distancing birthday camping or hiking

Camping and hiking are the perfect social-distancing-friendly activities for you and your outdoorsy friends. It’s easy to stay six feet apart on a day hike; just make sure the trail you’re planning on hiking is not too well-known to minimize contact with other people. If your birthday falls on the weekend, it may be best to find a time to go during the week to avoid crowds.

Treat yourself to an extended break from daily stresses with a two- to three-day camping or backpacking trip. This will take more planning and effort than a day hike but your hard work will definitely pay off. As long as there’s a separate tent for each household, you’re set for a relaxing, Covid-free trip!

Virtual Birthday Celebrations

Zoom calls are an amazing resource for staying in touch with friends, family, and colleagues, but everyone knows they get really boring, really fast. It can be tricky to keep the conversation flowing over a video call, so plan something to occupy your time together. Pandemic or no pandemic, these activities make for fun long-distance birthday celebrations.

5. Birthday Trivia

virtual birthday trivia

Interesting conversations and lots of laughter are bound to arise during trivia night. Find a ready-made trivia game online or create your own in a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation. Whoever’s hosting your Zoom call can share their screen so that everyone can see the questions at the same time.

6. Arts and Crafts

virtual birthday arts and crafts

Pick a project that requires only easily attainable materials or household items. Bath bombs, paper flowers, watercolor painting, tassels, or pompoms are good projects for beginners. If you’re a bit more advanced in the creative department, check out this list of DIY projects. Make sure to let all participants know what you’re planning to do at least a few days in advance so everyone can gather materials if needed.

7. Group Cooking

virtual birthday cooking

You can’t hang out in the kitchen with your friends and family on your birthday, but you can get on Zoom and cook the same recipe together from afar! This will take a bit more advance planning than other activities — send out your recipe of choice around a week before the big day to allow time for everyone to get their groceries.

8. Virtual Game Night

virtual birthday game night

Virtual game night can be anything you make it — many card games and other group games are available online and can be easily played in a group during a Zoom call. There’s a popular online version of Cards Against Humanity and other games like Cribbage and Backgammon are available on Playingcards.io. Check out a longer list of online and mobile games here.

9. Virtual Movie Night

virtual birthday movie night

Can’t host an in-person movie night in your backyard or at a drive-in theater? You and your friends can still watch your favorite movie or TV show together. Use Netflix Party if everyone has Netflix — you’ll be able to watch and chat at the same time. You can also share your screen on Zoom while using any streaming service.

10. Birthday Video

If your group is unable to gather in person or over Zoom or if you just want to go the extra mile, create a group video card for the person you’re celebrating using HipHip.app. HipHip provides a simple, high quality video-making service so that you can celebrate milestones in an accessible and delightful way. A video montage of messages from friends and family is one of the most meaningful gifts you can give and helps everyone to feel connected while celebrating an important day.

It’s any easy three-step process:

  1. Create a virtual collaborative card on HipHip.app
  2. Friends and family contribute text, photo, and video messages from any device, anytime
  3. All contributions will are seamlessly compiled into a video montage and digital flipbook.

Tips and Tricks

Everyone is adjusting to the new normal of birthday and milestone celebrations and learning how to make them just as memorable as a traditional gathering. Follow these tips to keep things feeling special.

  • Send invitations! It doesn’t matter if your party is in person or over Zoom; sending out paper or digital invitations will make your party feel more like a real gathering.
  • Surprise the birthday boy or girl — send them a cake, drop flowers at their door, or surprise them with balloons or other decorations.
  • Decorate! If you’re celebrating the birthday of someone else in your household, surprise them with banners, balloons, or streamers. If you’re celebrating online, decorate anyway and encourage others participating in the virtual party to decorate, too.
  • Send a card — send a handwritten note even if you’re celebrating in person or virtually.

And remember, your safety and the safety of others always comes first. Happy celebrating!

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