Remember our hopes that pandemic would slow down with the warmer weather? Unfortunately, Summertime is here for more than a month now, and the basics of coronavirus spread haven’t changed - on the contrary.

With social distancing guidelines, most indoor venues are not an option, and many important events like weddings and birthdays have been canceled, postponed or moved online.

As parents, watching our children cope with the situation is tough. They miss their friends from school, and their cousins and grandparents. They miss the joy of summertime activities like camp and sleepovers. Having their special day get canceled is a real blow.

If your child has a birthday coming up, there are still ways to celebrate safely, depending on where you live, how serious the outbreak is in your area, and what local and state guidelines and restrictions are in place.

So...why is it important to celebrate birthdays?

Celebrations matter a lot to us - especially our children. Here are the three reasons why:

1) Kids need to feel connected to their community

Celebrating milestones like birthdays has a huge positive impact on your child because it makes them feel connected to their community, experts say. As children go through developmental stages and form a social identity, this connectedness starts to play a bigger role in how they feel about themselves.

It’s important to remind them that they have a network of friends and family who care about them.

2) Your kids need a break from quar-routine

Children need some structure in their life, and restrictions - even though they keep us safe - can make that challenging. No matter how creative you get, it's hard to create enough excitement and positive energy - both for you and your children. I bet there are days when you aren’t even sure if it’s Tuesday or Friday.

Organizing a birthday for your child or another family member, in-person or virtually, can spark joy in everyone’s eyes. We receive so much negative news lately, these  moments of brightness can really make a difference.

3) Social isolation affects our children’s mental and physical health

If social distancing includes social isolation as well, it can have a certain impact on your child’s health. Older children might be able to connect with their friends online, but school, sports, play-dates, and other activities are their most important social platforms. While they may get to spend more time with immediate family now, the pandemic may have already produced some sense of social isolation. It’s important that they don’t lose contact with their peers, as this is key to building and maintaining healthy relationships.

How to organize a kid’s birthday party during a pandemic safely?

Summer opens up more opportunities for outdoor activities. Depending on the conditions in your area, there may be an opportunity to organize an in-person (distanced) birthday party. Experts agree, wearing masks and keeping a safe distance can decrease the risk of virus-transmission, so include these in your preparations for any gatherings. If you’re living in an area where that’s not feasible, there are still some alternatives. Make sure your plans align with all the guidelines and rules for your city/neighborhood, and of course use common sense - if for any reason things can’t proceed safely, be ready with a backup plan so you don’t have to cancel altogether.

Note: Before planning any event that includes in-person social contact, we strongly urge you to review the information provided by local and national health authorities regarding current conditions and practices to stay safe during the pandemic. In addition to checking with your city or county’s health department, here are some helpful sources of up-to-date data and recommendations:

Local health information by state

CDC - the Centers for Disease Control

WHO - the World Health Organization

1) Outdoor Birthday Party

If you have a large backyard or access to a park or other outdoor property, there is a way to organize a real, in-person party safely. Infectious-disease experts are saying that the risk of getting infected while being outside, wearing a mask, and keeping a proper distance is pretty low.

Here are some suggestions and safety tips to consider if you decide to organize an outdoor kid’s birthday party:

Invitations & Guests

  • Keep the party small and intimate. Communicate clearly with your child about this topic, because they may have already developed different expectations. Ensure that the guests can be safely accommodated by the outdoor area you choose.
  • Think critically about your guest list - is the format and location appropriate for everyone you’re inviting? Some kids (and parents too!) have a more difficult time with rules and restrictions; think twice about inviting people who might make it challenging for you to keep up the safety measures.
  • Tell your guests what to expect. Give them details about the location, activities you plan to have, and any precautions you will be taking. Make sure to inform them about masks or other gear you consider necessary.
  • Be understanding. Everyone has different levels of comfort and it’s possible some of your guests may not wish to attend. Respect their feelings and know this isn’t a rejection of you or your family personally, it’s just a difference of opinion. We’re all trying to do our best, but what we feel is right and safe for our own families may not be the same for others.
  • Be in charge (or designate someone else) to enforce safety measures and behaviors.

Activities:

  • Have hula hoops or long jump ropes available - these are safe ways to play together while staying far enough apart. Fun for adults and kids alike! If your budget allows, you can even label each one with a name, and give these items as party favors in the beginning.
  • If your children and their friends are into wheel-sports, bikes, skateboards, scooters, and inline skates are all great ways to move around in a large outdoor space. Encourage your guests to bring their preferred ‘vehicle,’ and organize an obstacle course or other challenge for them to ride in.

Food & Drink

  • Label each guest’s (adults and kids!) glass with their name, to avoid mixing and drinking from the same cups - have permanent markers on hand in case you need to make new cups.
  • Serve food that is already portioned into individual servings - use muffin cups or other small containers so guests can ‘pick up a refill’ safely.
  • Avoid barbeques, buffets, or other situations that might encourage people to mill around closely.
  • Go for individual cupcakes instead of a cake. If you can, have one extra-large version big enough to accommodate the birthday candles.

Keeping a safe & clean distance:

  • Ensure there’s plenty of space between seating - check local guidelines for the proper distance (in most cases this is six feet).
  • Encourage families to bring their own picnic blankets or ground cloths for seating; if you are only inviting kids, you can ask them to each bring a beach or swim towel to sit on. This will make it easier to ensure everyone has their ‘own’ space.
  • Have bottles of sanitizer and wipes available - especially on tables, tailgates, or other flat areas.
  • Have a supply of disposable masks on hand - enough for all your guests - in case anyone forgets to bring one, or they lose it during the party.
  • Bring extra trash bags to collect all rubbish - all those wipes and single-use serving ware really pile up, and it’s important - and courteous - to take everything away when you leave.

We recently wrote a step-by-step guide on organizing kid’s outdoor birthday parties, check it out for some more practical help.

If you’re in need of digital assistance when it comes to inviting your guests easily, creating a wishlist for your kid’s presents, and tracking the number of RSVPs - you can do it easily with the Giftwalker app.  We currently offer a $20 gift card to our early users as a sign of appreciation. All you need to do is register here and organize your first party.

2) Virtual Birthday Party

Hardly comparable to the real deal, but in some cases, virtual birthday parties might be the only way for you to go now. Don’t worry though, you can still make your kid’s birthday party a memorable experience.

Besides the creative details, you’ll also want to make sure to host the virtual party on the right platform to avoid any possible disruptions and technical issues, which could really ruin the moment - imagine the screen freezing just as everyone starts singing “Happy Birthday”!!

Zoom has proven to be one of the most popular platforms for organizing different types of online events. If you don’t have a premium Zoom account already, you can use Giftwalker App to invite your guests and organize a virtual birthday party. We can help you set up an online space for an unlimited number of participants and up to 4 hours of uninterrupted video calls.

Unlike other popular virtual invitations and chat platforms, Giftwalker doesn’t have ads on the invitations, and we use a reliable virtual event platform (Zoom) as part of our service.

3) Birthday Parade

If you can’t host an in-person party, and you’re sick of online events by now, here’s another great way to make your child feel special on their birthday: organize a surprise birthday parade and watch from your front door, window or porch. Here’s a detailed guide on how to plan the perfect birthday parade.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure to observe your family’s special moments in one way or another. Above all, keep your celebrations safe and healthy!

Again: before planning any event that includes in-person social contact, we strongly urge you to review the safety measures and other information provided by local and national health authorities regarding current conditions and practices to stay safe during the pandemic. In addition to checking with your city or county’s health department, here are some helpful sources of up-to-date data and recommendations:

Local health information by state

CDC - the Centers for Disease Control

WHO - the World Health Organization