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8 Ways to Throw Birthday Celebrations for Kids While Social Distancing

8 Ways to Throw Birthday Celebrations for Kids While Social Distancing

While you can’t throw a traditional kids party, your at-home birthday celebration can be just as much fun.

UPDATED May 12: 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.

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 relative 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 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 are 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. You can even have a Disney princess Zoom your little one one-on-one for a special birthday surprise.

RELATED: Birthday party planning resources

Invite friends to the virtual theater

Invite a group of buddies to a planned event and encourage them to grab delicious snacks and settle in for a show. Watch2gether allows you to create a room where kids can simultaneously watch a video or listen to music—while chatting or using a webcam to video conference. (It also offers a karaoke version—type in “karaoke” with the chosen song so participants can sing along.) Netflix Party synchronizes a video playback and adds a group chat option during streaming so kids can watch the same film together.

Plan a special day at home

Even if you want to keep it simple, there are many ways to make your kid's birthday celebration special at home. Set up a scavenger hunt or a tent in the backyard to camp out for the night. Make your kid’s favorite dessert or do a creative project together. Key to My Art and Sammie & Tudie's Imagination Playhouse are both hosting virtual birthday parties.  Take an online trip to the zoo or a famous museum. Or let your little one be king or queen for a day—or maybe just an afternoon. Being stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate.  

RELATED: Live Stream Zoos and Aquariums

Order your kid's favorite takeout

In light of the coronavirus crisis, many restaurants in the New York metro area are offering free delivery and even free kids meals, so you can order a special birthday meal for your little one without breaking the bank. In addition to take-out and curbside pickup, Blue Moon Mexican Cafe locations are offering two Birthday Fiesta To-Go options, which include food for six (tacos or fajitas), a dessert platter, beverages, sombreros, and birthday candles.

Book a virtual group class

If chatting over Zoom just doesn't cut it, book a virtual group class for your little one and her friends so they can participate in an activity together. Clay Art Center is offering Kids Clay Virtual Parties via Zoom for birthday parties. Instructors will guide kids through a fun clay project of your choosing. If you want the kids up and moving, look into Fhitting Room's group fitness class birthday parties.


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Shana Liebman


Shana Liebman is the features editor of NYMP. She’s a writer and editor who has worked for magazines including New York MagazineSalon, and Travel & Leisure,—and she is the mom of two energetic little boys.

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