Creative Ways to Celebrate Birthdays While Social Distancing

Celebrating milestones brings people together. Birthday parties are an especially important tradition, giving family and friends an opportunity to shower affection on loved ones and remind them how much they are valued and cherished.

While staying healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic has limited in-person events and celebrations, that doesn’t mean the party is over. There are a million little ways to make someone feel celebrated in the midst of social distancing. And technology is on our side. Between high quality video conferencing tools, the internet, and an abundance of creativity, here are just a few of the creative ways to celebrate birthdays while still observing social distancing recommendations.

Ideas for Virtual Birthday Parties

For many, the go-to solution for socially distanced birthday celebrations is video conferencing tools. With plenty of options out there, it is easier than ever before to get your family and friends online to celebrate together from afar. We recommend exploring tools like SkypeFacebook MessengerGoogle HangoutsFaceTimeZoomWhatsAppHouseparty, and Squad to find the platform that best meets your needs.

Once you have your platform of choice, it’s time to start planning a fun and entertaining virtual birthday party! These are just a few of our favorite ideas…

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Give a Toast

Toasting the guest of honor is a well-loved tradition that dates back to ancient civilization. Even though your birthday celebration is now digital, putting together a meaningful toast creates an opportunity to share a brief memory, along with well wishes for the future.

We recommend preparing your guests by sending a quick note inviting them to speak during the virtual celebration—and preparing them to have a toast-worthy drink in hand. Have guests take a trip down memory lane and share a story or memory about the guest of honor. Stories and toasts can be funny, touching, or downright silly. The goal is to show how the guest of honor has made a difference in the lives of friends and family.

You can even share some resources to help them write their toasts. A few great options include:

Another great option is to ask every guest to share a picture of them with the guest of honor to go along with their toast. And don’t forget to have fun! Your virtual birthday celebration is about sharing moments, laughter, and sweet memories.

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Share Advice and Life Experience

Whether you’re turning nine or ninety, everyone loves a little sage advice or humorous wisdom. Ask participants to come prepared to share the best and most important advice they have received over the years, or the most important (or ridiculous) tips and tricks they have learned through experience.

What birthday guest wouldn’t be delighted to gain some insight from Confucius, Gandhi, your little brother, or Great Grandpa? Need a little inspiration? Check out this funny advice from kids for a good laugh. Advice might range from super-serious to overly silly, but no matter what, it’s sure to be entertaining.

And don’t forget to appoint a scribe to take notes! Turn the advice into a fun, digital party favor that gets sent to all the guests after the party.

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Get Competitive

What birthday party would be complete without a little friendly competition? Games are a staple at most birthday parties, even the virtual kind. Bingo, Charades, and Pictionary all work on video chat, with Pictionary and Charades being the fan favorites.

Charades, for example, doesn’t require any special tools or supplies. Simply adapt the rules to your virtual forum. There are even sites where you can generate your charades phrases automatically.

Bingo lovers are also in luck! Online tools such as the Bingo Card Generator allow you to download and share Bingo cards with all of your guests. Other sites, such as Online Bingo and Lets Play Bingo automatically generate the calls.

If you want to take the competitive spirit to the next level, host a dance contest, scavenger hunt, or drawing challenge. Enjoy a (virtual) room full of laughs as your guests take on the competition of your choice.

Plan to have your guest of honor serve as the judge, and prizes can be awarded in a wide variety of categories, including:

  • Most Creative Performance
  • Most Courageous Performance
  • Least Likely to Be Forgotten
  • Most Entertaining
  • Most Likely to End Up in Show Business

For more great ideas for competitions and games, check out websites like IcebreakerIdeas.comHobbyLark.com, and ListSurge.com.

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Teach Something New

If you have a guest with a particular skill or hobby, consider hosting a “how-to” event at your virtual birthday party. While in-person parties sometimes offer cupcake decorating or pottery painting, your virtual party can still be a great opportunity to teach your guests a new skill or craft.

Prepare your guests by sending a list of necessary supplies at least a week prior to the party. Depending on your guest of honor’s favorite hobby or art medium, choose something that is fun and easy to teach online. Some virtual birthday parties have centered around a group painting experience, while others involved knitting, container gardening, or even making your own hand sanitizer.

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Pick a Theme

Themed birthday parties never seem to go out of style, no matter your age. Some of the most beloved themes, from “Under the Sea” to the “Roaring 20’s” are still very much applicable to your virtual birthday party.

Keep the theme alive by sharing it in advance and inviting your guests to arrive on screen in costume. To help them manage proper social distancing—and to make things more entertaining—require guests to only make costumes from items available to them at home.

Other ways to utilize your theme include having fun with virtual backgrounds. Video platforms like Zoom offer a variety of backgrounds to create the right mood for your guests and to match their themed costumes.

You can even watch a movie together—one that fits the theme, of course—starting and pausing everyone’s screen simultaneously. Netflix subscribers have this option through Netflix Party (only the host needs an account), and there is Kast for larger groups.

Gift Ideas that Can Be Sent by Mail or Online 

While in-person birthday parties are out due to social distancing, that doesn’t mean we have to do away with gift-giving as well! Giving gifts can be challenging in the time of coronavirus, but there are still plenty of ways to spread the love. Many e-commerce businesses are experiencing long delays, but the good news is you don’t have to rely on retailers to get thoughtful birthday gifts to your loved ones. These are some great, social distance approved gift options that come straight from the heart, ensuring your friends and family will treasure them for years to come.

Create a Birthday Party-in-a-Box 

Balloons and confetti are fun whether you are celebrating virtually or in-person, so package up all of the traditional party fixings and send them off to your loved one. In addition to balloons and confetti, include a birthday sash or crown, streamers, and a party favor. Don’t forget the most important part: a sweet treat that you made yourself or selected with care during your weekly run to the store.

You can upgrade your party-in-a-box by adding some do-it-yourself decor that reflects the recipient’s interests. These are just a few ideas:

Of course, if you are short on time, supplies, or creative energy, there is nothing wrong with asking the professionals to step in. You can create and send a party-in-a-box from your favorite party supply store. Party City is open for online orders, as are Michael’s and Oriental Trading.

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Send an E-Gift Card 

Online gift cards can be delivered instantly, which makes them a perfect choice for socially distant birthday celebrations. Now is a great time to send something fun that the recipient wouldn’t normally buy for him or herself. Consider their hobbies and opt for something that might encourage them during this time of social distancing. Send a gift card to their favorite local art supply store, bookstore, or restaurant (if they have to-go options available).

You can also look further afield for some fun gift card options from online retailers. Grab a card from Williams Sonoma for the cooking hobbyist, or perhaps a subscription to Wine.com for the wine lover who is looking to expand his or her palate.

The Best Meal Delivery Services for 2020, Ranked & Reviewed | SPY

Gift a Subscription Service 

For those experiencing more time at home, there are some advantages to social distancing. Long-neglected projects are finally getting completed (we hope), movie buffs are rewatching old favorites, and many people are improving their cooking and baking skills.

One way to make this birthday extra special is by gifting a subscription service that adds some variety and spice to quarantine living. For the movie lover who hasn’t quite transitioned to the streaming lifestyle, consider gifting a streaming service such as NetflixHulu, or Disney+.

Other subscription services that make great gifts include online learning platforms, tools for the artist in your life (such as ScribeDelivery or SketchBox) or even high-quality meal kit services, especially for the aspiring chef. With meal kits, the recipient can choose from a variety of menus before boxes are shipped, and each package includes everything needed to put a delicious meal together.

50th Birthday Memory Book Sample

Create a Collaborative Memory Book

Whether you are celebrating a milestone birthday, or you simply want to mark this profoundly unique season, nothing captures all of life’s beautiful moments quite like a memory book. Birthdays are a celebration of life—and a celebration of a lifetime’s worth of experiences, relationships, and achievements. Now is the perfect time to bring those moments together in a memorable way.

Gather pictures, thoughts, advice, and memories from all of your closest friends and family to create a one-of-a-kind collaborative memory book. To make things even easier, you can use a comprehensive service like Newlywords.

This platform is specifically designed to reduce the stress of collecting, sorting, and arranging memorabilia from family and friends. Instead, you send an email invitation to each participant and they upload their pictures and thoughts directly to the Newlywords site and our easy-to-use templates. You don’t have to chase them down, sort through their photos, or send email reminders. Once all the contributions are submitted, you can rearrange them to your liking. The end result is a beautiful digital or printed memory book that the birthday recipient will treasure for years to come.

Record a Video Montage 

If virtual birthday parties aren’t your style (we get it, Zoom calls can be exhausting) another great way to spread the birthday cheer is with a video montage. Ask friends and family to record a short video for the birthday guy or gal and send it your way to create compile one celebratory video. Encourage participants to keep it simple. They can record a video easily using their laptop, tablet, or smartphone and email or text it directly to you.

To make things even easier, consider using a service like VidHug. Similar to Newlywords, you send invitations to participants directly from the site, and they receive instructions for submitting their special birthday message. Once all contributions are received you can easily compile the montage through the VidHug platform.

Build a Group Puzzle 

If you’ve never experienced the joy of a group puzzle, now is definitely your chance. Group puzzles are a great way to celebrate a birthday and make a person feel loved and connected in a time of social distancing.

There are a few ways to create your group puzzle, but by far the easiest option is to print a puzzle pdf from the folks at Oh Happy Day. Send one page of the document to each participant. They write a message on the back and send it along to the birthday recipient. The birthday guy or gal assembles all of the puzzle pieces into a final poster-sized image that is filled with the messages of loved ones.

Whether you choose to mail a gift, send a memory book, or celebrate a virtual birthday party—or all of the above—social distancing doesn’t have to put a damper on your celebration. In a time when being physically together simply isn’t possible, with a little creativity and the help of technology, you can still make every birthday memorable!

Did we miss a great idea? Share your suggestions in the comments below.

Collaborate on a bucket list for an unforgettable group gift

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You’ve heard of bucket lists, but if you’ve worked with buckets long, you’ve figured out that they’re a little difficult to store neatly. So, whether you’re planning a birthday, anniversary or retirement party, consider a wish box! A personalized wooden box, like those bought here, is relatively easy to get your hands on, and moderately easy to make yourself. You can buy bucket list cards over here for guests to fill out and drop in the box for later storage.

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If everyone fills out an idea or two, that should keep the honoree(s) busy for quite a while. But more importantly, it’s easy to tuck a box away in a cabinet or in your luggage than it is a box. Make it waterproof and it will even survive a disastrous fishing trip, or a slightly too wild cruise.

If you want to gift something even more neatly bound, organize a collaborative memory book. Unlike a wish box, folks contribute wishes online before the party so that they have more time to think of what to write. This also works well if some people are unable to attend your event!

A uniquely stylish birthday card that can be hung on the wall

big birthday card

Whether you are planning a birthday, anniversary or retirement party, you probably expect to see some folks bring traditional greeting cards sealed in paper envelopes. Usually they are cards from folks who found the time to prepare one in advance. Sometimes it’s an actual giant birthday card someone finds at a local convenience or party store. But hanging a giant birthday card on the wall is a little cumbersome and might look tacky. Why not hang a photograph instead?

Buy a frame with an extra-large border and center your chosen photograph in it. Provide some pens and encourage the guests to sign a note for the man or woman of the hour. In addition to proving they attended and reminding people of that in the future, the birthday child will be able to see it hanging on their wall or sitting on their table and remember friends and family.

Alternatively, go further and organize a birthday memory book filled with pictures, stories and messages from everyone. It won’t hang on the wall, but it’s a great addition to the coffee table that will get picked up over and over again.

How to throw a birthday wine tasting

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You may have difficulty picking a birthday party idea. Sometimes, it’s just not a simple thing to do. But it could be! See, just like your birthday guest of honor, there are other things that only get better with age, and one of the most common ones is wine. So why not set up a wine tasting? A couple bottles of wine, a little bit of cheese or chocolate, custom glasses. You could probably get all of it for under a hundred dollars if you’re buying disposables, or a few hundred if you’re buying glass.

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But of course, you could give it a spin, too. Instead of setting up the wine tasting yourself, encourage the guests to bring their favorites as gifts that can be enjoyed in the years to come. You could even go a bit further to test everyone’s palette with a blind wine tasting party. It’ll be a bottle of fond memories and great tastes.

Dress up ideas for that 60th birthday party

Hippie Group Playing Music and Dancing Outside
Sixty is a unique age, just as the decade was. A gallon of gas in 1960 was only a quarter, but you can’t buy much with just a quarter these days. Still! Pulling out the bold colors for someone’s 60th and making this the theme isn’t a terrible plan. With the population split between tie-dye clothes with hemp jewelry and sharp suits with A-line dresses, there’s a whole host of colors and clothes for guests to pick from.

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Some of the easiest for modern-day wardrobes might be the Hippie style, since the men can throw on bold colored shirts and bluejeans and the ladies likely have a summer dress somewhere. Throw on some bangles and a bandana, sketch a peace sign on the cake, and no one will be any wiser. If you do that, why not go all out? Recycle everything.

Get 30 guests to bring mini gifts for a 30th birthday

40 Birthday Gifts

Maybe you’re looking for 30th birthday ideas that don’t involve a lot of money. A lot of people give out as many gifts as the recipient is turning old, usually little dollar store trinkets. And while that’s an option, that’s also a lot of wrapping paper. Save yourself a little time by having the party guests bring one of the 30, or something that shares their age, like a movie, game, or music.

A lot of gifts can be personalized, and there’s a lot of 30th year related gifts over here. From Star Wars to Vintage, tee-shirts that celebrate and coffee cups that lie about your age, it shouldn’t wont be hard to find something cheap but thoughtful that you probably wont get in trouble for buying for them. And if everyone brings a gift, you can be excused for only getting one too.

But maybe just gifting them is a little stale. If everyone is into it, turn the gifts into prizes for a scavenger hunt or open a few every hour at forty past, to keep anticipation going all day. If you do a scavenger hunt, don’t forget where they went!

What are low-key ideas to celebrate someone over the hill?

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Ultimately, there’s no changing that someone very near and dear to you is starting a new decade of their life, and big elaborate parties aren’t for everyone. You know your best friend better than anyone else in the world, so you know if that’s something they’ll enjoy. But if it isn’t, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to make it special. readmewhen.jpg

Take them out for breakfast or dinner at their favorite place to eat, help them catch up on housework they may not have had time for, and if you’re planning far enough ahead, write them a bundle of “Read Me When…” letters for them to open when they’re sad or when they’re happen or feeling lost, or just whenever. You can buy pre-made bundles here that you just need to fill in, or you can make your own at home.

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Since it’s their 40th, 40 letters would be ideal, but that might be unmanageable. Though if you can’t manage letters, a bundle of $1 lotto tickets or scratch-offs could also do wonders and would make an interesting investment should they be winners. A useful distraction when cooking breakfast.