How to Celebrate Your Child’s Birthday During Social Distancing

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As parents, the last thing we want to do is disappoint our children. Especially on their birthday. So how do you make a birthday special when you don’t get to celebrate with family and friends?

Here are some suggestions from our son’s recent birthday along with some recommendations from other moms on our Wichita Moms’ team.

Want to know if the birthday was a success? Our son declared it as “the best day ever”. 

Be prepared to console.
How do you explain to a soon-to-be five-year-old that he no longer gets a birthday party? His party had already been planned pre-social distancing and all the Coronavirus craziness. I’m not going to lie. There were tears. From both of us. Be prepared to explain that the party is not canceled, but postponed until we can all safely be together again.

Develop a plan.
Decide ahead of time what you want to do because it takes some coordination with family and friends.

Birthday kid picks the meals for the day.
Ask a couple of days in advance what your child would like for each meal. For us, nothing was off the table. Pancakes for breakfast and lunch. His favorite fruits throughout the day. Beef stroganoff for dinner.

Don’t forget the cake.
Find a baker who’s still open or let them pick out a favorite flavor for mom to make. I applaud the moms out there who make the cake each year. However, I’m not that mom. We buys cakes in this house. I did grab a backup box mix and frosting just in case a lockdown went into effect and I couldn’t get the cake.

Wake up to a surprise.
When our little guy woke up, we had balloons and gifts waiting for him. It was like a mini version of Christmas morning.

Create a car parade or parking lot party.
I’m sure you’ve seen the car parades in your feeds. Such a great idea. Friends and family can drive by with posters or all stop and sing. We went for an alternative option and took advantage of the massive parking lot that backs up to our house. A parking lot party. The cars lined up facing our back deck with one parking spot between each car. Everyone sang. Our son made his way up and down the row several times. Plenty of social distancing space between each car.

Balloons, balloons and more balloons.
What makes even adults smile? Balloons. Get your lungs ready and blow up some balloons. Just kidding. Do yourself a favor and pay the $5 for a hand pump. Fill the hallway or bedroom with balloons. Then at the end of the day make a game out of popping them.

Set up hourly surprises.
Coordinate with family and friends who want to give gifts. We had people dropping off surprises throughout the day. We ordered balloons and a puzzle from Love of Character as a special treat. Plus, it made for an adorable photo.

Try a treasure hunt.
How do you make getting presents even more exciting? Hide them around the house or outside. Our son loves to play in the back of his dad’s truck, so it was a natural hiding spot. Plus, we avoided wrapping paper.

Embrace Zoom parties with school or friends.
We attend a Montessori school that has a unique birthday tradition beyond simply singing happy birthday. The guide reached out to us in advance for photos of Charlie from each year of his life and explained how to set it up so we could closely replicate it at home. Then the entire class got on Zoom. Imagine 24 three to six-year-olds singing on Zoom. Entertaining to say the least.

Another option for older children is to have a more organized online party. For example, a luau theme and have luau themed games to really keep the party going. Hula hoop contest, bingo, bubble blowing contest. To make sure the fun goes on for longer, send each attendee a package with party favors.

Ask for FaceTime, videos and cards from family and friends.
Start the day with grandparents on FaceTime. Have friends who would have attended the birthday party make short videos with a birthday wish. Ask people to drop cards in the mail. It extends to the special day when it is spread out a bit.

Let homeschooling go for the day.
We decided to focus on fun for the day and let the “schedule” go to the wayside. Too much excitement for any of us to concentrate. Plus, it was a welcome break from the new “normal.”

Do you have creative celebration ideas during this time of social distancing?

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Ashley grew up in Augusta and has lived in the Wichita area for most of her life. She works full time as vice president at a marketing agency. She'd been in the workforce for 15 years and faced years of fertility challenges before being blessed with son Charlie in 2015. She met her husband, Josh, in kindergarten. The house-divided college sweethearts attended KU and K-State, starting their careers in Dallas before returning to Wichita in 2003. Not just a full-time executive and mom, she owns Josh Cook Golf Academy with her namesake husband. Ashley also enjoys volunteering as Wichita Aero Club vice chair, driving a golf cart with Josh and Charlie, drinking wine and spending time with family.