Your birthday may need to look different this year because of social distancing, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't celebrate

By Andrea Wurzburger
April 09, 2020 11:57 AM
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Is your birthday going to be spent social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic? We get it, you may feel like this about your birthday right now:

But just because you’re social distancing, that doesn’t mean that a celebration is out of the question. In fact, it just means that you and your loved ones get to be super creative in order to make it feel just as special as an in-person celebration may be. Here are a few ideas for how you can celebrate your birthday or the birthday of someone you love while social distancing:

Hop on Instagram Live

Want the spontaneity of ChatRoulette (remember that?) without the possible, um, shocking surprises? The best thing about Instagram Live is that you never know who’s gonna show up. If you’re someone who loves to have conversations with your pals or hear your friend’s best stories, an Instagram Live is a fun way to invite all your friends and family, – some of which may not have scored an invite to an in-person party (sorry, y’all) – to join in on the fun.

Here’s how to keep it celebratory:

  • Set a time limit for your “visitors.” Let’s face it, your friends and family don’t necessarily want to watch you talking with your best friend from summer camp for 30 minutes. Set a five-minute time limit for conversations so you don’t drag on.
  • Make it a talk show format. If you’re having a party, have people who are joining think of a great question for you to answer or have questions prepared for them. Doing this gives the conversation some direction!
  • Have fun with your setting. Set up your “studio” to have a theme, tell your followers to dress up and don’t forget to make a playlist that fits the vibe! May we suggest a Tiger King theme?

Have a FaceTime, Google Hangout or Zoom Party

Getting a group together virtually gives you the opportunity to no only see all of your friends at once, but to introduce friends that may not cross paths usually. Here are a few pro-tips for making the most out of a virtual party:

  • Have a few icebreakers handy. We know, we know, you haven’t done an icebreaker since that adult improv class you took that one time, but this is the best way to introduce friends who may not know one another and to get everyone into the conversational mood. May we suggest such classics as Two Truths and a Lie or Never Have I Ever?
  • Have some questions handy for the group. You don’t need index card upon index card of conversation starters, but it’s nice to have a few questions in your back pocket (that aren’t “How many days in a row have you worn those sweatpants?”) should the conversation lull.
  • Have a designated start and stop time. Not that people don’t want to spend hours and hours celebrating you, but try to offer your guests a clear end time so that they don’t feel obligated to sit online all night.
  • Don’t forget the cake. The Happy Birthday song may be stuck in your head from hand-washing, so we totally get if you want to skip it, but don’t forget the dessert!

Have a House Party

No, not that kind of house party — you can’t gather in person with people right now, but you can download Houseparty, an app that lets you connect with your friends and play games with each other. You can also play Cards Against Humanity or JackBox Games for some friendly competition in honor of your birthday. Don’t forget to bring the cocktail or mocktail of your choice!

Have a Birthday Parade

When else are you going to be able to justify asking your nearest and dearest to give you a whole parade? (Tons of people all over the country have been doing this to celebrate their friends and family – including Gwyneth Paltrow, who threw one for her son Moses’ 14th birthday!)

It’s a nice, safe way to see family and friends while also getting all of that birthday love! The CDC recommends that all people wear masks and remain a safe 6-ft. distance apart, so be sure to exercise good judgement if celebrating this way.

Make Your Birthday a Self Care Spa Day

More of an introvert? Grab those face masks you’ve had for, like, ever (okay, make sure they’re not expired first), give yourself a mani, do your hair (even if it’s for the first time in weeks), give yourself a good old fashioned makeover — the world, er, your bathroom is your oyster. Make it special! Take some time to pamper yourself, especially if you’ve been feeling anxious or stressed.

Don’t Forget to Treat Yourself

Support a small business by ordering from your favorite local restaurant, treating yourself to some online shopping (especially if your favorite local businesses are fulfilling orders so you can shop small) and take the day to relax or catch up on whatever show you’re binge-watching right now.

And Don’t You Dare Forget the Cake

Need a good activity to pass the time? Look up the cake recipe of your choice (we won’t judge if it’s a boxed mix) and make yourself a gorgeous cake worthy of a celebration. If you’re social distancing with your family, kids or roommate, have them join in on the fun!

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.