Celebrations, especially a birthday party, are when it becomes the most clear how much our life has changed during the pandemic. So many things you would normally do to mark an occasion like a birthday are now off-limits. Large scale parties are prohibited at home and at various venues. So what do you do now to celebrate special occasions?
Small-scale birthday party
Now that we’re well into Phase 2 of Washington State’s Safe Start plan, families are able to enjoy some of their usual outings and activities (with masks and social distancing). We may not be able to throw a big party to celebrate birthdays, graduations and anniversaries, but we can at least get together from time to time with a small group of friends and family. These are of course, the same people you see all the time, but you can break out of your routine. Dress up in fancy clothes, play games you don’t usually get around to playing or just go over the top with the menu.
Take it to the farm! Many places are now open for apple and pumpkin picking. Your small group can meet and pick produce, enjoy farm activities (think hay rides, big pillow jumping, slides, corn in the hole, apple blasters) and feast on fall treats like cider, donuts, warm kettle corn and hot apple pie! All outdoors and at a safe distance.
Take a Hike!
City, state and national parks are open for exploring and camping too! Check out the Washington Parks website for tips, trail maps and more information on COVID-19 openings. Pack a picnic, party poppers and noisemakers (make it special with a yummy dessert or favorite treat!) and head out to discover the beautiful PNW!
Wear a mask if trails are crowded, have a plan B if parking lots are full, purchase proper park passes ahead of time, and bring back any trash for proper disposal. Bonus: Have a child who loves the outdoors? Gift them with a chance to become a Junior Park Ranger.
Hole-in-one, go karts, and bowling!
Mini-golf is a fun family activity and a great way to connect with friends for celebrations. Mask up and visit places like the Interbay Golf Center, Willows Run Rainbow Run and the Snohomish Valley Golf Center that offer kid-friendly courses with the use of your own putter or ones from the facility (sanitized after each use). Check out their websites for open times and party packages.
Offering mini-golf, a swing at the batting cages, and go karts make your child’s special day spectacular at the Family Fun Center in Tukwila. Have your small birthday party in one of their picnic areas (no outside food allowed with the exception of cake).
With so many of us resorting to home haircuts, it might be time to straighten out those bangs or blend in that fade for a new you on your special day. Sharky’s Cuts offers Mom (or Dad) and me haircuts. Sit side-by-side with your child, while your stylist snips away! Extensive cleaning and sanitizing routines are in place. There is no shampooing or blow-drying, they wipe down chairs and all surfaces after each client, and all customers must wear a mask.
Want to add a mani and pedi? Head over to Snip It’s Kids Salon with your little one. Appointments are blocked to one customer at a time. You’ll have the whole place to yourself for a fun afternoon! Get your hair cut and then choose a fun color for your nails to celebrate the new you!
Al fresco dining
Restaurants are now allowed to fill their dining space to less than 50% – why not go to your favorite restaurant to celebrate something special? Check your local dining spots for open times and Covid-19 restrictions.
Zoom Birthday party
Invite family and friends to a Zoom (or other online platform) celebration! Bake a cake for the honoree or support a local bakery with pickup or delivery options, sing a festive song and make a wish! You can also coordinate a dinner party or work with your child’s educator to get your class together for a birthday singalong. If your child has a special teacher or principal, ask them to call in or schedule a 1:1 chat.
Have a car parade! Coordinate with family and friends to surprise your special one with a visit to your home, from their car! Observe social distancing, but still see joyful faces in honor of the special day.
Streamers, balloons, extra décor!
Break into any leftover decorations you can find, or make some of your own, to make your home festive for celebrations. Decorate the bedroom, the front door, and even your yard to recognize the person you’re celebrating.
You’ve got mail!
Ask friends and family to send cards and messages for your loved one. Share the sweetness throughout the day. It’s lovely to hear from the people you love.
Make it a YES day!
Ice cream for breakfast, you got it! Stay up an extra 15 minutes? Yes! Let your child choose the foods and activities for the day (within reason) and they’ll be sure to make it a day they’ll (and you’ll) never forget.
Mom and Dad can play maitre d’, support a local restaurant by ordering in, and celebrate like you’re eating out. Make it a date night and check out the family meal options from places like DeLille, Tilth, FrogLegs (offering cake options and cooking kits too!), Cask and Trotter, District 1 Saigon, Habit Burger Grill and more! Get the kids to bed early and celebrate with your loved one, even if it is just for surviving the day.
Coordinate a big slumber party with friends over Zoom or any chat service. Pull the mattresses together, watch the same movie, eat ice cream and stay up late. Younger children can make a fort or put up a tent together. Camp out for the night to make it extra special (indoors or out).
Virtual birthday party
A lot of great companies are offering virtual parties, some for free and others at a cost. If you want to have a princess party, check out Amazing Fairytale Parties, now offering video calls and princess-led virtual read alouds. Into magic and want to wow a crowd? Book a virtual show with Nate Jester, Ace of Illusions!
Go in for the hunt
A scavenger hunt! Leave some clues for some indoor and outdoor fun. Lead your family on the chase for a very special prize at the end. Prizes can be as simple as seeing a favorite movie or having cake and ice cream at the end of the day.
Throw on some of your favorite tunes (ones from your birth/anniversary year, too!) and dance the night away (or up until bedtime for the kiddos). A great way to have some fun, laugh, move your body, and celebrate.
Originally published Aug. 13, 2020; updated for fall/winter.