By now, you’ve probably mastered how to set your kids up with fun virtual playdates and creative meet-ups with their grandparents. You know how to work Zoom and FaceTime like a pro. But for parents with kids celebrating birthdays while everyone is still sheltering in place, you might be at a loss for how to make their celebration special—without in-person parties, passing out slices of cake, or any of the other usual highlights of a traditional birthday bash. Not to worry, this year can still win the title Best Birthday Ever! Here are a few fun ways to celebrate your child’s birthday, pandemic style.
For active kids
Sky Zone, the trampoline park company famous for hosting birthday parties for kids who love to jump, is hosting free virtual birthday parties for up to 10 guests. After parents fill out a form online, a Sky Zone team member contacts you to create a digital party invite that includes a Zoom link to join the “party room”. Once everyone gathers, a Sky Zone host leads kids through 25 minutes of games and activities that include dance-offs, trivia, even a lesson on how to do a TikTok dance. They also lead the group in a “Happy Birthday” singalong while the birthday boy or girl blows out the candles. At the end of the festivities, parents are welcome to tip the host, but it’s not mandatory.
For crafty kids
For kids who love crafts, the adorable Lanyard Ladies mail craft kits to your birthday kid and their pals and set up online birthday parties where everyone makes the projects together. One the day of the party, everyone logs on via phone, laptop, or desktop, and an instructor shows the party guests how to make fun crafts while talking and comparing notes. There’s also music, dancing, and of course, singing “Happy Birthday.”
For Roblox fans
If your child just can’t get enough Roblox, you’ll love the company’s newly launched “Play Together” game board designed to make it easy to pinpoint games that involve socializing with others. Some birthday party-type examples include bowling and riding virtual water slides. For just 10 cents, the Play Together board provides VIP servers so users can play with family and friends in a virtual private party space. All you have to do is click on the Servers tab to create and name a VIP server and invite others to join using a link provided. A subscription is required unless you use it during the trial period then cancel.
For a little adventure
For sleuths who love a good mystery, digital escape rooms are becoming a thing now that so many of us are stuck at home. With themes like Hogwarts. Cinderella, and Minecraft, a few local libraries have created digital escape rooms that require little more than a free Zoom account. Just like the ones in real life, clues sometimes require you to solve riddles as well as math and word problems in order to “unlock” the mystery.
For a virtual twist on an old favorite…
Just because they can’t see their friends in person doesn’t mean they can’t have a sleepover! Organizing a virtual slumber party can be remarkably easy, especially for older kids—and can be as simple as making sure their device is charged up and signed on to a video-sharing platform before they head off to their room for the night (with a slightly later bedtime, of course). You can even send small packages to the guests ahead of time containing things like microwave popcorn (to enjoy while they all watch a movie together) or pampering face masks and nail polish for a fun group spa experience.
Bonus ideas to make the birthday kiddo feel special
Want to get them off tech? Organize a birthday parade where no one gets out of their car. Birthday parades have been trending in recent weeks with even celebrities getting in on the action. Here’s how it works: Organize a group of friends to drive parade-style by the birthday kid’s house while honking, singing, displaying balloons and flashing “Happy Birthday” signs from the car windows. Just be sure to do it during daylight hours (because, neighbors).
If your kid loves superheros, Disney princesses, or has other favorite characters, you can sign up to get personalized greetings for them from Operation: Birthday Rescue. Just post your child’s name, age, and any personal preferences (most loved cartoon or favorite character, for example) in the Facebook group, and volunteers with amazing costumes will create video birthday greetings especially for your child.
Finally, it may not be the same thing as a virtual party, but creating a virtual group card is now easier than ever thanks to apps like Marco Polo. It allows you to record and view each other’s videos and spruce up greetings with different filters and effects that change the sound of your voice. Many teachers are also willing to help coordinate gathering video greetings from kids’ classmates as a special surprise.
Whatever happens, your child will never forget this unique birthday that will be unlike any other in their whole lives—even if you just celebrate quietly at home as a family.