Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Birthday party

Does your parent alarm go off with this image? These kids are too close together! No, you can't have conventional birthday parties at the moment. But there are ways to have meaningful celebrations that your family will always remember.

Celebrations in the time of coronavirus: Families find creative ways to observe birthdays, etc.

Happy birthday! It's still possible to have a fun and special time.

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 the second year (or is it third?) of the pandemic and fully aware of the various variants, families try to enjoy some of their usual outings and activities (with masks, vaccinations and social distancing). We may not want 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.

Museum Outing

Choose your favorite museum and visit! Whether it’s the zoo or the flight museum, check the hours, make reservations and explore. There’s so much to learn at all of the Seattle-area museums – history, science, culture, art, space and more. Check with the museum to see if they have started to host small parties. Some will provide all the amenities- food, cake, goody bags, and time at the museum before or after the festivities.

Art Class

Throw some clay on the wheel, paint a portrait or join a multi-media class. Let the material be your muse. Places like Roaring Mouse offer classes that would be a perfect birthday gift for your child and their best friend, a small group or for the whole family!

Hotel and pool party!

If you want to splurge for a birthday outing, spend some one-on-one time with your child or bring the family to a hotel with a pool in the city or a nearby the city. Order room service, watch a movie on a comfy bed, and then head to the pool! Splashing around and cannon balling it makes for memorable moments. Best things about it – there’s little clean up for you to do!

Head to the theater!

Catch a performance with a small group of friends or make it intimate. Have dinner before and cut the cake from a local bakery, after. Check out what’s playing and plan a special night out!

Private play date

Rent out an entire indoor play area for friends and family to enjoy. Places like Outer Space Seattle allow parties of up to 25! Play in their upper or lower levels- climbing, sliding, swinging and have so much fun. Some places provide food and drink, clean up services, and other amenities that make it easier for parents to focus on their kids and guests.

Themed Virtual Parties that you can coordinate: Art, legos, cooking, science and more!

If you want to keep it low key but still exciting, choose to have a birthday party with your child’s favorite theme! Have a child who loves Legos, purchase small sets for a group of friends and they can put together the sets online (or outside at a distance). Maybe your kid loves to cook – host a cooking class over zoom with a favorite recipe. Science and tech a part of the plan? Choose to order a Kiwi Crate or similar STEAM box for each party goer and do the project together online, at home or outside.

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!

Too cold to camp, rent a camping spot for the day. Set up your tent and cooking station and build a fire. Celebrate the occasion with smores and other camp treats. Then head home after some star-gazing! Get the best of both worlds without the freezing temperatures.

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.

Grab some popcorn and catch a flick!

Rent an entire movie theater for you and your friends! A perfect way to have an intimate affair but stay at a distance, watch your favorite movie at your local theater. Birthday packages vary, contact a theater near you for more details.

Make it a movie night at home! You can Netflix and chill for the whole afternoon or choose a movie that you have yet to see. Make it a special night with extra treats, comfy clothes and a sleepover in the living room after.

Get skating!

Visit you local rink at open skate times or rent out the space. Invite some friends and family to share in some roller rink or ice skating fun! With 4 locations on the Eastside, Sno-King Ice Arenas is the perfect place to invite a few friends for a celebration.

Spa day

With so many of us still 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

Dine in a restaurant or choose an outdoor option –  go to your favorite restaurant to celebrate something special. Check your local dining spots for open times and Covid-19 restrictions. Not ready to have someone serve you – cater your meal at home or order your child’s favorite restaurant meal. Choose a driving service to deliver the meal and don’t forget dessert!

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.

Honk Honk

Car parades are still a great idea! 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.

Themed/fancy dinner

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.

Slumber Party

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.

Dance party!

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.


Read more:

Check out our ideas on how to have the perfect party at the park

Parent’s guide to surviving sleepovers

Tips on planning a party for children with autism or sensory sensitivities 

Check out our Party Guide with local resources to celebrate special occasions

About the Author

Jasmin Thankachen