Post by JoAnne, who runs the party kit Pure Party Pack based in Leamington Spa
Being in lockdown for a birthday doesn't have to stop the fun. It may not be the day you’d imagined but by rethinking how you celebrate you can make the next party the best you've ever had, creating happy memories and new traditions for years to come.
Make your party person the star from the start
Your party person may feel sad about not seeing their friends on their special day, so lift those spirits by making them feel like a star.
Let them know that, while this year will be different, there’s lots of ways it can still be fun. Ask them what they think would be fun - they may come up with some pretty magical ideas to celebrate during these strange times.
And while they’re thinking, ask them to come up with some ideas for a theme – this is one of our favourite bits of party planning and should be guaranteed to get their imagination firing. You may just put the smile back on their face!
Why not theme the whole day!
One way to make this year stand out would be to celebrate the whole day. Get everyone involved by picking a theme and doing related activities throughout the day.
Whether it’s making the whole day about superheroes, LEGO™, cowboys, zoo keepers or even penguins in space… basically anything your party person has a passion for!
For a dinosaur lover, a dinosaur safari could be a fun theme. Start the day with a dinosaur invasion at the breakfast table and get dressed up in your safari gear (think khaki, hats and binoculars). Then make your very own dinosaur skeleton from collected sticks, watch a dinosaur movie with popcorn or check out some real dinosaurs via a museum virtual tour. You could even adapt traditional party games to fit your theme such as pin the tail on the dinosaur.
If the theme is something they love then the party person should have a great day!
Celebrating at home with younger children
Why not have a teddy’s bear picnic inviting all your party person’s favourite toys. Send each toy a hand written invitation - a great pre-party activity!
Have a bowling party. If you don't already have a bowling set, you can use some old plastic bottles or loo roll inner tubes and a ball.
You could create your own sensory/soft play at home: think bubbles, coloured lights, silk scarves and include sofa cushions and pillows for slightly older toddler, if you dare!
If you're feeling creative and up for a challenge how about creating a box world that fits the theme. A box castle for a princess or knight, a boat for a pirate or create a box tunnel maze. You could include fairy lights which can look like twinkly stars for a space theme!
Make an in-house treasure hunt or, if you are lucky enough to have a garden, then get outside. You could even do a local neighbourhood treasure hunt or scavenger hunt as part of your daily exercise (use Google Maps to help you plan).
Have a go at 'Funny Feet'. Cut out huge feet to attach to the little ones shoes, so that they can stomp around! These could be dinosaur-shaped, if that's your theme.
Make a punch piñata; take a box and cut some holes in the front. Cover each hole with a single sheet of tissue paper or newspaper. Encourage them to punch through the hole to discover a surprise or activity.
Have an indoor sports day. Recreate the sack race using pillowcases, the egg and spoon race using the eggs from the toy kitchen and even the hurdles with some broom or mop handles. If you're feeling really creative, try a game of archery - put masking tape across a door frame, sticky side facing outwards. Then take it in turns to throw items to stick on the tape - light things like ball pool balls or cotton wool work best.
Celebrating at home with older children
For older party people an at-home Escape Room is great fun, there are a few companies out there that can create these for you, or have fun designing your own.
How about a pamper party? Sit with your feet in a foot-spa (or bowl of water), slap a home-made face mask on and enjoy chatting.
There are loads of great games you can make at home with bits you have around the house. There are some great 'Minute to Win It' videos on Youtube to provide a bit of inspiration. We love this one from The Glaisters family in Scotland.
If you can get the ingredients, organise a Bake Off. Everyone could bake and decorate cakes or biscuits in their own homes then share photos or videos with the party person.
If you're into dancing, there's loads happening online to support a spectacular family rave. 'Big Fish, Little Fish' have been doing online events, and another of our favourites is Sophie Ellis Bextor's Kitchen Disco, but that is probably more for us grown ups! If you are feeling crafty you could even make your own musical instruments to get the party really rocking.
Who doesn't love a quiz?! There is a great free app for making online interactive quizzes called Kahoot, which allows up to 10 people to play together online for free.
Have a sleepover party with your household, all camped out in the living room. Bring duvets, make a sheet fort and use torches to tell stories with a 'midnight' feast. Or if you are lucky and have a garden and a tent, set up outside. If it's a bit nippy you can always come in when it's time for bed!
Embrace your competitive side and host a summer or winter Olympic Games. Work together to come up with ideas on how to recreate the different events, make your own medal table, medals and Olympic podium.
Taking the party online
The easiest way to bring people together during lockdown is a virtual party via video chat.
For your virtual party, why not send digital invites. You can use Canva, a great free app which includes lots of templates. Tux Paint is another great free tool for creating fun little graphics and is made for children so really easy to use. Or if you are feeling daring you could even make a Tik Tok video invitation!
You could set a theme or dress code for your virtual party. Ask guests to dress up for the occasion - princesses, pirates, your best party dress or even party in your pyjamas. Perhaps invites some celebrities - think grandad dressed as Elvis and Aunty Suzy in her best ‘Jesy from Little Mix’ costume!
Get a great playlist set up on Youtube/Spotify/Apple Music and share it with any other guests and dance and sing your hearts out together. You could even do a bit of karaoke if you're feeling brave!
Come up with a fun craft that can be done with materials most of the guests will have in the house and have a virtual craft party. Decorate an old t-shirt, make crowns, or something else that might fit with the theme of the day. Local crafters may be able to produce a kit for you that could be collected when out on other essential errands or walks.
Ideas to still make a birthday special
Instead of a birthday card, ask friends and family to send pictures of themselves with the party person. Or guests could send little videos or voice recordings of stories about their favourite memories of times they’ve spent together. It can be a lot of fun to laugh about silly little things and see pictures you may never have seen before.
Many party entertainers have taken the party online. For a small fee they can send a personal video message from your party person’s favourite character or even do a live video call. For princesses, dino explorer, pirates, or many other themes check out Clickity Clack Parties.
Have a personalised cartoon made. Take a look at The Camberwell Cat or have a go at making your own.
If your party person has a favourite celebrity try sending a message via Instagram or Twitter asking for a birthday message - you never know what you might get in return!
Ask your neighbours to put up Happy Birthday signs in their windows or chalk drawings on the paths - our street is mad for this!
Kind of old school but still exciting, try and get a shout out on local or even national radio!
Above all, plan for fun
There’s no doubt about it... parties are hard work, so don’t forget to have fun yourself.
Why not make party planning part of the event? You could arrange a group call with your fellow parents or friends once the kids have gone to bed and maybe even bring along signature cocktails to share - Dino Daiquiri anyone?
Hopefully these ideas have inspired your imagination to make a lockdown birthday both special and memorable.
Party Kit Network
We are a network of almost 400 party kits based across the UK. While the party on pause for us during the lockdown, we will return again to help reduce waste at parties as soon as it is safe to do so. We lend party kits full of reusable tableware and decorations to make your party a little bit greener.