This time of social distancing is very difficult for kids, especially those looking forward to birthday celebrations. While the term has now been adapted to physical distancing to underline the need for social connection even though we are all staying apart, the two can feel very similar when it's your birthday.
With so many families struggling to balance work, home life and schooling in isolation at home, and kids dealing with the disappointment of cancelled activities & events and missing their friends, we know there can be an extra layer of disappointment with the cancellation of traditional birthday parties.
But kids are often more resilient that we think, and with a bit of creativity and the help of local businesses who’ve taken their offerings online, there are lots of options to lift kids birthday spirits.
Here are some of the fun ideas we’ve been hearing about on social media and through local friends!
social distancing birthday celebration ideas
Vancouver-based Pacific Fairy Tales is now offering three new options for virtual birthday celebrations. Kids can receive a custom video message from a character of your choice, you can schedule a Live Video Playdate via Zoom with their favourite character reading them stories and singing songs, or you can have a popular character send your child a customized birthday letter in the mail!
If you’re kids are crafty or artistic, you may have already heard of 4Cats Art Studio that has locations across the Lower Mainland. But you may not know that they’ve recently gone digital to stay connected kids while everyone is self-isolating. They’re offering a number of online classes featuring oven-baked clay and watercolour projects – supplies & instructions arrive at your door by contactless delivery, and you get a link to watch the online 30-45 minute workshop at your convenience. You can purchase kits for all of your child’s friends and sign up for an online party to celebrate their birthday together!
The Vancouver Aquarium has put together a huge library of helpful resources and tools for families during these times of isolation at home. From colouring & crafts and livestream learning to DIY tutorials and watch animal webcams, they have something for everyone. But if you’re looking for something more personal than a public live-streamed learning event (perhaps for a birthday celebration?!), the Vancouver Aquarium has opened up their Virtual AquaClass program (normally reserved for schools) for parents to book privately for their kids and/or multiple families, each from their own living room!
For older birthday kids, a Netflix Watch Party may be right up their alley! Netflix Party is a Chrome extension for watching Netflix remotely with friends – it synchronizes video playback and adds a group chat feature. We’ve been hearing good things about this from friends who’ve tried it!
We’re used to using Zoom for work meetings, but recently we’ve been using it even more to have virtual dinners & celebrations with family and friends from our neighbourhood and around the world. We’ve hosted two birthday parties via Zoom in the past week with a laptop or tablet set up at the dining table – just have one person take charge of setting up the meeting and emailing everyone with the confirmed time and meeting link! Only the person setting up the meeting needs a Zoom account, and the free version lets you have a group meeting for up to 40 minutes at a time – just send another link to the group if you want to extend the length of your virtual birthday party!
A big favourite for our kids as far as birthday parties go is the classic scavenger hunt. Obviously gangs of kids roaming the neighbourhood is not an option right now so we have adapted the idea to involve selfies. This birthday selfie scavenger hunt can be done with siblings and is a fun one to send to a friend.
old school family party games
One of our friends recently planned an old school birthday party at home with just immediate family, and the kids had a blast. Egg on spoon races, potato sack races (garbage bags or pillow cases work well), pass the parcel – super simple with things you likely already have on hand, and the kids will love it!
Neighbourhood birthday caravan
This is a beautiful gesture that we have seen done in many neighbourhoods. Cars decked out in signs and balloons will parade past the birthday kid's house honking and singing. We have even heard of communities setting up a booking system to book your own parade.
Alternately, we have seen posters, messages and drawings on many neighbourhood windows, and then the birthday family will do a drive-through pick up at a local restaurant and cruise the neighbourhood in their car spotting all the good wishes from their friends, neighbours and family. (photo credit: Langley Advance)
Family camping/Movie night in the living room
For this to feel really special for the birthday kid we suggest going whole hog! For camping, set up the tent and sleeping bags, eat camping style food, set the TV to play a crackling campfire, bust out some s'mores on the BBQ.
If you are doing a movie night, make up admission tickets, decide on the movies playing in each the theater and make a sign with the times and which movies are sold out. Pop some popcorn and give the kids some money/play money to purchase their movie treats and drinks. The more over the top you can go, the more it will feel like a special night instead of just TV night.
Wondering what to do with the kids in Metro Vancouver this weekend, or what to make for dinner? You can find it at HealthyFamilyLiving.com! From the Sunshine Coast to the Fraser Valley, we’re the best online resource for busy parents looking for practical tips for healthy, active, sustainable living. For the latest on family events, outdoor adventures, birthday parties, camps & classes and kid-approved recipes, follow us on Facebook and sign-up for our parent-approved e-newsletter!