Kids’ birthday parties have almost started to compete with weddings: getting ever bigger and more lavishly themed. Which is fine - of course - yet my best birthday memories are quite simple ones: wearing my red velvet party dress about 5 birthdays running (until the fateful year my brothers filled it with itching powder) and generally loving the special attention - not in abundant supply when you’re one of 6 kids. Of course, we all want our children to feel important on their special days - and in these strange times it’s tough to be apart from friends and family. But there are still loads of lo-fi ways to have fun, to make The Big Day feel different and, most importantly, to make it All About Them.
Invent Your Own Silly Games: run up and down the stairs 6 times, take a picture of everyone standing on their heads, dress up as mum or dad as fast as possible, see who can hold their breath the longest.
Pre-record A Puppet Show: that you can share with family and friends.
Made a Piñata: with a balloon and paper mâché for beginners or a dinosaur shape for the more ambitious. Needs to be done in advance, so you only have to fill it with sweets and bash it to bits on the day!
Make Party Food Look Fancier: by displaying it on a cake stand. If you haven’t got one, make one, by stacking a small plate on a larger one with an upturned teacup.
Learn A Magic Trick: Doesn’t matter how silly or bad you are at it. (Just channel the late, great Tommy Cooper.)
Get Decorating: put up balloons or make paper ones and create bunting with ribbon, a stapler and some wrapping paper.
Splash Some Cash On An Entertainer: Maggie and Rose are hosting virtual parties for 2-5 year-olds.
Drop Off Party Bags For Local Friends: containing a drink, a cupcake, a party hat, and a note to say ‘thanks for coming to my party’.
Have A Family Talent Show: with Birthday Girl or Boy as the judge.
Plan The Perfect Birthday Cake: Check you’ve got supplies, including candles, to make it early. Or beg/borrow ingredients from friends and neighbours.
Mum or Dad Dress Up As A Favourite Film Character: and stay in costume all day.
Camp Out: Garden owners - pitch a tent for the evening or (weather-depending) overnight, with a small fire for toasting marshmallows.
Let Birthday Person Choose Their Favourite Takeaway.
Create a Fun Zoom Party Background.
Go On A Birthday Walking Tour: around to local friends' houses who can put posters up and wave. (In permitted daily exercise time.)
Book An Airbnb Online Experience: choose from a huge range of interesting options, worldwide. Learn to dance like a K-pop star, have an author read to you from their own book, or even meet remote rescue goats in America.
Let Present Givers Join In The Present Opening via Zoom.
Have A Cinema Screening At Home: Buy a copy of Birthday Person’s favourite film and have a special viewing, with popcorn, hotdogs and nachos.
Play Classic Party Games: sports day races, sleeping lions, musical chair, pass the parcel, but grown ups must join in too.
Have A Pizza-Making Party: for added fun, toss some dough above your head, wear a striped jumper or make paper hats, so you look like chefs in a real pizzeria.
Create A Family Art Project: on a canvas or a large piece of card - that you can keep as a memento or hang in their room.
Krack Open The Karaoke. (Warn the neighbours first and see what others have been warbling for inspiration.)
Have A Treasure Hunt: hide presents all round the house and leave a trail of age-appropriate clues.
Be Your Own Entertainer: With what you have in the house, or a fancy-dress purchase, Mum or Dad could transform themselves into a clown, a pirate or a magician.
Have A Dance Off: there’s lots of inspo on Tik Tok. Put on disco lights, if you have them, or dig out the Christmas lights and put them on sparkle setting.
Rescue A Toy Animal From A Bowl Of Jelly With No Hands: just, er, because!
Have A Water Fight: get outside, or put down lots of towels, and get drenched.
Get Crafty: make a bug hotel, your own soap, or even a kaleidoscope. Or just have a giant bake off.
Do A Gift Drop: if you have the space, ask for presents to be dropped (or hidden) in the front garden, or you could unwrap them together while social distancing safely.
Have A Spa Day: Pamper and primp each other with facials, back rubs, manicures and makeovers. NB: Boys and dads can enjoy spa days as much as mums and girls.
But the main thing is, enjoy it - and remember that birthdays can be low key too. If you want to have a cuddle and a PJ day, that's also the perfect celebration.
And a very Happy Birthday from everyone at KIDLY!