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Best Tips for Celebrating Birthday Parties in Lockdown or Isolation…

Neither the words lockdown, isolation, or social distancing seem to conjure up the best birthday celebration vibes do they? A part of me just wishes we didn’t even have this as a topic to write about. But, the world is the way that it is right now, and so, as my son’s 5th birthday approached a few weeks ago, I thought I needed to find the way to embrace it and make the most of it!

I should say we are currently in full lockdown in London (and the UK for that matter) as I type this. But, it appears that all around the world there are varying rules and restrictions that pop up for this pandemic. So I wanted to counter that with a few fun tips and a guide for a very fun birthday for kids of all ages around the globe. After all, birthdays are such a beautiful way of celebrating a chapter change in a child’s life, so nothing should rain on their parade!

Here are my easy tips on how to save the day and make it dreamy, lockdown or not…

First of all, plan ahead. Children deserve the same amount of attention (if not more) for a lockdown birthday. Come up with a fun theme, or ask family members and friends to send great gifts way in advance. We have so many good suggestions on how to support independent brands on our collection of over 150 boutiques. Tailored book suggestions, terrific toys, dress up, party favours, and more… here!

Next, I have the very best tip for how to create a party with their closest friends without breaking any rules. It is doing an online party! But don’t do it yourself, use a talented and specialist to do it who will make the party absolutely fabulous.  Project Play, is a genius business run by an experienced and lovely friend of mine in NYC. She also happens to be a dear friend and all around wonderful woman. Dani, who started Project Play realised that due to social distancing children were missing out on interactions with friends. And she realised that unstructured virtual playdates were challenging to navigate and not fulfilling children’s social needs. So her solution was to make virtual playgroups and parties with old fashioned camp style games.

Dani is a former Camp Director, with 15 years of extensive experience working with children. She is based in NYC but can Zoom around the globe, and has a package of various playgroups (some are even for schools) for birthdays and beyond. You can bring kids together anytime virtually, you don’t need to wait for a birthday in fact! Dani was so professional and coordinated all the plans with me before. Then she tailored the games to our children’s age and birthday party theme.

Project Play is the antidote to parties in a pandemic. Not only is she incredibly patient with children but she facilitates them and acts as the Master of Ceremonies, bringing out the very best in them. Each and every child (even a very shy child on the call) instantly fell in love with Dani and it truly felt like a REAL birthday party! Meaningful connections. Absolute happiness. Laughter, giggling, dancing, and more. It was perfect!

Book the party date. Make it a big deal so that it feels as exciting as going to a ‘real’ party. We chose to do our Project Play party just before dinner time on the weekend since our children seem zapped from screen times on Home Learning days. We also thought it would allow families to get some fresh air earlier in the day and not cut into their day waiting to sit in front of the screen.

Make the simplest invites you can text, email, or What’s App. I cheated by doing a quick graphic in Instagram Stories, taking a screenshot, and then using a few cute Instagram bunting illustrations and then, presto, I cropped it and texted it. Having some sort of invite feels a bit more special the birthday party guest to get a ‘real’ (semi real) invite.

Another shortcut due to time and also most hops being closed is to order pre-made party favour bags that you can drop off at the door of your guests in advance! Or order them to be delivered straight to their doors. We currently only have food stores / grocers open so I contacted Teresa from Hedgehog Kids (one of our Babyccino shop members) and asked her for some good old fashioned silly joke party favours. She has them pre-made and the children opened them at their respective homes right before the party. All the kids loved the water squirting cameras, the dice erasers, and the silly glasses too! An instant hit on the party.

Just before the party, get the decorations out! I hung up bunting on the wall behind the screen, and brought out our birthday crown. We even gave one big birthday gift (the knight helmet) before the party. And our party guests surprised us as well by dressing up and wearing party hats. They even made birthday signs for their walls which meant so much to us.

The one hour Zoom party was some of the most fun that the kids had in weeks! They played lots of games, danced, did a Scavenger Hunt, and I think the photos speak for themselves. They especially loved seeing their friends and ended the call with a happy birthday song, of course. It was so very meaningful for everyone.

The following day was actually my son’s birthday, so we went to the park and had a picnic. We also did a little family Vid Hug (a free service which compiles all the birthday messages) so we didn’t have to spend the whole day doing phone calls and video calls and could just have fun!

It was a great alternative to a ‘normal’ birthday, and to be honest, it was just as fun!

Now tell us, what special things have you done to make a child’s lockdown birthday more special in your home? Last summer my children made these for our one year old’s lockdown birthday if you need a gift idea and this floral monogram idea is also great for a birthday of anyone’s age which is easy to mail too!

Enjoy!

Lara

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