May 2021 be the year we get back to celebrating! Pandemic or not, birthdays are something we CAN celebrate even if it’s not in a traditional way. Not every birthday needs to be a clubbing occasion, especially with our country still trying to rebound from the spread of Covid-19.
Because I am no scientist and have no idea how long it will take for the vaccine to be widely distributed enough for us to return to what we think it normal, I have come up with some celebration ideas that can be turned into a pandemic-friendly experience. No matter your personality type, you’ll be able to find something off of this list that gets you in the spirit to celebrate your (or a friend’s) birthday!
1. Murder Mystery Dinner
This is how I celebrated my birthday last summer. All the credit goes to my husband for this one. It was a complete surprise! We kept the invite list under 8 to keep it pandemic-friendly. My husband wrote his own murder mystery for us to play along with- however, if you aren’t feeling that reactive you can buy ones already made online! In fact, I recommend that only because of how LONG it took him to write it.
For the theme of this particular murder mystery, everyone showed up dressed in their finest attire for a dinner where a will was being read for a man who owned a huge estate. His death was fishy. We were all given a character which we drew out of a hat that came with a description and listed how we were related to certain characters. If you have a good core group of friends that could totally get silly and dive into fun characters for a few hours, then I highly recommend giving this a try! Even if it’s a little outside your comfort zone.
It made for a very unique birthday experience that I’ll never forget. It probably helps that I found out I pregnant literally hours before my guests arrived so the second mystery on our hands was secretly swapping out alcohol people were handing me for seltzer without anyone finding out. I was successful in that venture… was not successful in finding out whodunnit.
2. Scavenger Hunt
Here is another one that I have personal experience with… thanks to my husband. I know, he sets the bar way too high for hubby’s everywhere.
Scavenger hunts can come in a couple different forms! You can keep it in the house and small, especially if you’re high risk for covid, or you can expand it to a city wide scope. I did this a couple years ago and it covered the entire city. It started off with some stuff in the house and eventually the clues lead me all over town. Lunch with a friend, I had to dig a hole by a tree at the beach to find a clue, found a clue tapped to the hand of a statue, clues that lead to places where I picked up birthday presents and my final clue lead me to a restaurant where my mom and cousin (from Kentucky and Louisiana) were waiting for me as a surprise.
Mine was a little extra but you can definitely make this fun on a smaller scale. Hide the little gifts around your house and have clues to lead the birthday queen (king) to them. Clues can rhyme or just use language that is meaningful to who you are throwing the hunt for. It’s best when you set it up to not overthink it. Also, make sure you write down the location of everything so that you, the creator, can make sure everything is found!
3. Cake Contest
Looking for a delicious idea? Have a cake contest! Invite over a few of your best friends and give them all a task of baking a birthday cake. The person you are celebrating will be the judge! Have categories like most creative, best tasting, and best decorated.
If you are being extra cautious with the pandemic, I offer the idea of having friends drive-by the cakes and join in for a virtual judging! For extra votes, post the cakes to social media and let everyone in on the fun.
I haven’t had this done for a birthday yet, but I hope I get invited to a cake contest party this year!
4. Classy Outdoor Picnic
Do a picnic, but make it classy.
This is on my must-do lists! I absolutely adore the idea of a classy outdoor dinner. Whether you want to go to a secret picnic location or just set it up in your backyard, this is one way to assure that you have a picture perfect birthday.
So how do you make a picnic classy? The 3 D’s! Dress code. Decor. Dinner.
Set a dress code that fits the occasion because if you just say “picnic” most people will show up in jean shorts and a tank top. Let people know this is more like a dinner party than an a BBQ. Keep it somewhere between sundresses and cocktail attire. Anything more than cocktail attire might be too much for sitting outside.
Decor. This is what will really set the tone for your evening, so invest in the decor the most. First set a color theme. Pick balloons that are the color you’re going with and one accent color, such as mauve and gold. Find flowers to cut short and put into mini vases. Napkins to match. How you have the dinning situation set up will be very important. I recommend one long table that will seat everyone. Tables that are lower to the ground with cushion seating photograph really well, but obviously standard sized tables and chairs are easiest. Choose at your own discretion. If you do a full table, make sure you get a nice table cloth to dress it up. Likewise, if you are working with fold out chairs, try and find some way to dress them up, either chair covers or add a bow etc.
Dinner. Food has to be classy too! Doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive though! You can do a lot with how you arrange the food even if it’s just cheese and veggies. Use Pintrest for some good plating and menu inspiration. Finger foods are normally great for a picnic, however keeping the pandemic in mind, remember to try and keep it sanitary. Use toothpicks so not everyone is touching the same utensils. Keep the invite list on the smaller side too. Good rule in general for dinner parties since you’re feeding everyone.
5. Pajama Party
Nothing sounds better to an adult that is constantly “adulting” than a fun night where you don’t have to prepare! So for the honoree that needs a break, the PJ party is for you!
You can do this with friends over or just celebrate this way with your family! Fun for the husband and kiddos. Get on your cutest, comfiest jammies, get a snack bar set up that makes it look like you just raided a 7-Eleven and of course, get some fun drinks on deck.
You activity list can be just about anything with a party like this. If it’s a family celebration, bust out some board games and pick a couple of movies. If it’s ladies night, go round robin with making a playlist and get dancing.
The point is to have a celebration without the stress of really planning or getting ready.
6. Spa Day
Want to celebrate but need to relax? Try a spa day. You don’t need to party to have a great birthday. A spay day can be for just you, could include some friends or could include your spouse! (Once you bring a guy to a experience a mani/pedi, the will want to go with you everytime! Men, don’t knock it till you try it!)
Spa days don’t have to be expensive either! While it is so much fun to ball out and get all the treatments done at your local day spa, an at-home spa day can still be just what the doctor ordered! If you have a compliant partner, this can be the ultimate treat. See if you can convince your partner or roommate to give you a foot massage, apply a nice face mask, warm you up a bath with some essential oils or get set up the diffuser in your bedroom for a nice nap! Spa days are for everyone.
7. Hollywood Night
Another theatrical idea is to host a little Hollywood night! Dress up like an iconic celebrity- or have everyone pick a movie and theme it out that film, serve some hor d’oeuvres, lay down a red carpet, turn the flash on your camera, and finally, watch some classic movies, or the movie that themed the evening.
This one can take minimal though but can also go very in depth so no matter what kind of party-planner you are, you can fit this to your taste. You just have to like movies.
8. Wine Tasting
I’ve done this one on a random Friday night with ny husband and it was so fun that I wished I had made it a party! There are not hard fast rules to setting something like this up but I’ll tell you how I did it.
First we picked if it was doing to be red or white wined themed. Then the way we selected our wines to try is we decided to pick a wine from 7 different countries. We set up a wine and a food from the country the wine represents in each room. Then, we hit the tour! We changed the music playing according to what “country” we were in to really set the mood.
That’s just one way you can do it. You can keep it simple and just have a couple friends over and everyone brings a wine they love to share or everyone brings a wine they have never tried before. Make sure you have snacks of some sort- you don’t have to theme it out but when drinking wine you NEED to have food and water, or your birthday celebration is going to be very short. Remember, you’ve got like 7 wines to taste!
9. DIY Night
I love, love, love this one because everyone goes home with a little memorabilia.
DIY night is all about bringing over the upcycle craft you keep wanting to try and getting a friend’s help! We are talking anything. Painting an old bookshelf, making a candle, whatever. Cover the floor with a drape and either pick out a craft for everyone to try OR let everyone bring over their own craft and have a variety of things going on.
I think it’s fun when everyone is working on something different because then you can get inspired to try some of those projects later. This one will be messy but will be a good time for the friends who like to be creative together.
10. Give Back
This is very unconventional but I would love to see this trend pick up. It’s a give back party. Find something going on in your community that needs help and get your friends together to do some volunteering. Maybe it’s picking up trash on the beach, serving at the soup kitchen, boxing up food at your local food pantry, the list is pretty endless.
I think this is a great way to get out of the mindset that volunteering isn’t fun by putting it into a celebratory atmosphere. Check out your city events or charitable organizations to see what’s going on around your birthday. My favorite ways to volunteer have involved kiddos in the past. Reading to schools, staffing an afterschool program, leading a youth group. There really are countless ways to give back to your community. Do some digging and find something that already fits in with something you love and you are sure to feel good about the way you celebrated your birthday.
I have no idea what this year is going to bring for us but I don’t think we should be putting off celebrations any longer. You CAN celebrate safely. Birthdays are not something to be scared off as an adult either. After living through a pandemic, shouldn’t we all appreciate making it another year through life? Don’t sell your victory lap around the sun short with a trip to the bar, do something different that still honors yourself. You might not pick something off of this list, but I hope it inspires a celebration of your style anyway. Happy (early?) (late?) birthday to you!