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How to Celebrate Your Birthday When You Can’t Throw an In-Person Party

A young woman celebrating her birthday in quarantine.
Mariia Korneeva/Shutterstock

Your birthday is coming and you can’t throw a party and invite all your friends to celebrate it. Shelter-in-place orders are putting a damper on birthday celebrations around the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have one. Here’s how to party (at a distance).

Virtual Celebration

Because it seems like everything has gone online these days, turn your bday party into a virtual celebration. Invite all your friends into a Zoom or Skype call, and have a blast with your loved ones while keeping a safe distance.

You can spice it up and call for a “dress code,” asking everyone to wear a certain color or accessory; create a whole birthday theme and make your background seem like you’re on the beach or on a ski trip; prepare some fun games to play on the call, and get creative when it comes to what you’ll do with the cake situation by either telling each person to bake the same one using the ingredients you provide or ordering a large number of same desserts and sending them to all of your friends at the same time.

Believe it or not, there’s a new company called Kiki Kit that actually specializes in curating virtual events, creating custom-made party kits and bringing them to your and your friends’ doorstep. Crazy times call for crazy measures.

Although virtual parties aren’t the same as real, physical ones, at the end of the day it’s all about changing perspective and how you think about it. Go into the celebration with the notion that this will be the best birthday party ever, and there’s a good chance it will.

Have a Drive-By Party

Woman waving to her friends, celebrating her birthday at a distance.
FloridaStock/Shutterstock

If you’re not a big fan of spending your evening in front of your laptop talking to the screen, ask your friends who live nearby to drive up to your house, roll the windows down, and stay in their cars. Come to the balcony, window, your front door, or the porch if you have one, and put some moderately loud music on (you don’t want our neighbors to call the police after all). Put a sign in front of your house or apartment stating your intentions so your neighbors are at least in the know. You can even ask them to honk their car horn when they pass your house, joining in the festivities.

This way you still get to see your friends’ faces in real life without violating social distancing quarantine rules or putting anyone in danger. Once again, you can plan the theme beforehand and have everyone join in by dressing up a certain way or decorating their car. Let your imagination run wild. Just an idea: the Fast & Furious theme goes well with the abundance of cars.

Throwing a Kid’s Party

If you’re having a tough time thinking about what you’ll do for your kid’s bday this year and how you’ll explain the fact his or her friends won’t be coming over, you’re not alone. Many parents find themselves with the same problem as it’s almost impossible for their small children to comprehend what’s going on in the world. Heck, even they are struggling to figure it out themselves.

Telling your kid he or she’s gonna have to spend their birthday celebration without playing with their buddies is a tough pill to swallow, so try to make it as painless as possible by throwing the best at-home party you can think of. We’re talking big flashy decorations, exciting and fun activities, scavenger present hunts, an elaborate birthday cake, and a potential Zoom virtual party with his or her friends depending on your kid’s age.

This is also an area where video gaming really shines. Set up a video game session or even gift them a Minecraft Realm server for all their buddies to play on during (and after!) the party.

You can even hire a virtual princess, superhero, or a magician, and bring the joy of magic into your kid’s life even if it’s only through a screen. It all depends on how exciting you make it and how much fun you bring into it—if you pour your heart into the party, your kid is bound to love it.

Take The Party Inwards

Woman enjoying a birthday alone, doing her own thing, eating ice cream and watching movies.
Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock

Sometimes, the best kind of celebration is the one you keep small and intimate, just with the people living with you, or even just with yourself. Maybe you don’t feel like celebrating this year, and maybe you cringe at the thought of Facetiming people. And, that’s okay.

Whether the reason is a specific number on the cake, the fact you hate technology, or simply because you’re overwhelmed with the whole quarantine situation, it’s completely fine to take that day for yourself. Do whatever your heart desires. From recreating an at-home spa experience and challenging yourself with a complex cooking project, to logging off of every device to enjoy some peace and quiet and even not acknowledging it at all, acting like it’s just another normal day.

Don’t let others guilt you into having a bigger celebration if you’re simply not in the mood for it. Let them down gently and explain what it is you want to do and how you plan to deal with it. You’re the one in charge.


Just because physical parties are canceled, it doesn’t mean they’re canceled altogether. Prepare your ideas in advance and focus on making your birthday or the birthday of a loved one the best day this year so far!

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »

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