How to Make Birthdays Extra Special When Everything is Cancelled

Special Birthdays

By now the term ‘social distancing’ is as familiar as ‘bacon and eggs’ or ‘wine o’clock.’ Shout out to the brilliant minds who’ve developed schedules to keep the kids busy and the parents sane over the next several weeks, but not every kiddo is rejoicing over school closures and isolation because some of them had BIG plans.

In this temporary new world order, birthday parties and other celebrations are cancelled with a capital C. And it’s not only really hard for a little one to understand why their party has to be cancelled, but it’s also heartbreaking for us parents to see. So, to help navigate kids’ birthday parties in this strange new time, here are some suggestions for making the day—and your little birthday kid—feel extra special despite the current circumstances.

Learn that Amazon is your friend

No one else can deliver activity books and Lite Brite page refills to your door in 48-hours. (Yup, we’re kicking it old school.) If your child’s party had a theme, chances are you can find everything you need online, such as costume(s), decorations, party favours and other supplies, like this package of Unicorn Party Supplies or this 175-piece Jungle Safari-themed pack.

Start the day off right

Surprise your little one with paper streamers, balloons and other decorations outside their bedroom door when they wake up. Decorate their place at the table and treat them to their favourite breakfast, like a giant cinnamon roll with candles. You know, as an example.

Try out a scavenger hunt

Instead of sitting down to open presents, hide them throughout the house and give the birthday boy or girl some clues or riddles to track them down. You can find some great ideas here, courtesy of Or play ‘follow the string’ to lead him or her to them.

Explore a camping party

Turn out the lights, close the blinds and pull all the blankets, air mattresses and couch cushions into one space. Ring the room with small flameless candles and create an indoor campsite. Drape sheets overhead to make a ‘tent’ and use an outdoor fire pit or microwave to make S’mores. Tell ghost stories, ask Alexa to play some nature sounds and open the presents by flashlight!

Include guests, sort of

Plan to have special guests join the party via video chat. Apps like Skype, Facetime and Facebook Messenger make it easy for family and friends to watch the birthday boy open his loot. Ask friends and family to send video messages ahead of time or print off pictures of them and tape them up around the house.

Turn your house into a play place

The sky’s the limit on this one. You could plan a few fun surprises like a bathtub turned into a ball pit, or bowling in the hallway, or go all out by adding potato sack races in the backyard, a mini trampoline, or sticky ball vest tag. At least they’ll be tired at the end of the day!

Mani pedis anyone?

Sometimes a girl just needs a little alone time at the spa. To turn her special day (and your living room) into a relaxing oasis all you’ll need is a comfy chair, nail file and polish, a small tub with warm water, foot scrub and hand cream. Complete the experience with spa music, reading material and a fluffy new robe, slippers and cucumber water. 20 per cent gratuity optional, but appreciated.

Have a ‘Yes’ Day (or hour)

This trend was all the rage recently and frankly, it sounds terrifying to me but if there was ever a time to indulge your child’s every whim, now might be it considering it’s her birthday AND no one can leave the house. Disneyland? Nope, sorry. Hot air balloon ride? Maybe next year. Watch three movies in a row? Sure, why not! ‘Yes Day’ was popularized in a 2009 children’s book but really took off when actress Jennifer Garner instagrammed her family’s experience. Experts say it gives both parents and kids a sense of liberation and promotes autonomy in little ones. Win-win!

Best of luck during these tough times, and happiest of birthdays to your little ones!



1 Comment

  1. Yael M on March 26, 2020 at 11:36 pm seems to be a really awesome solution. Birthday parties online with entertainment!!

Leave a Comment