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How to Celebrate a Birthday (Social Distance Style)

May 9, 2020

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Emma loves her birthday. She loves it so much she picks out her next party theme at least 6 months in advance. This year, she wanted a Harry Potter-themed party, which made this Potterhead Mama’s heart burst! I’d been pinning Harry Potter themed party ideas since before she was born! I’ve been waiting and hoping for this moment for years!! . . . Then COVID happened and everything changed.

It was sad for both of us when I had to explain to Emma that we would have to postpone the birthday party we were so excited for. It was Charlie’s party too (since their birthdays are so close together), but she’s still young enough to not know what she’s missing out on. Emma put on a brave face and said it was OK. But I still felt so bad for my girls getting “gypped” of their special day. So I decided to do what I could to make their days special, even while social distancing.

(image from Seeded at the Table – please pin from original source)


It’s been our tradition since Emma’s first birthday to have a special breakfast on birthdays. It doesn’t have to be gourmet or super fancy – just something that makes the birthday boy or girl feel special. In our family, this means I whip up a batch of Birthday Cake Pancakes! I don’t make these pancakes any other time than on a birthday. It’s a simple thing that marks the day as something special and I love how excited everyone gets about having them.


Putting up some special birthday decorations is another easy way to make the day feel special, especially during quarantine. Being at home so much, it can be hard to even know what day of the week it is! So putting up a few decorations definitely marks that day as a special one.

I chose to put up our decorations outside, in the front yard, so that passersby – and not just our family – would know that it was someone’s special day! To start, I made these super simple “birthday candles” out of pool noodles and construction paper. They were so cheap and easy to make. I scattered them throughout our huge bushes out front. They were so cute!

I also had a couple of wooden signs I’d made for the girls’ Harry Potter party. I has planned on painting a few HP quotes on them, but instead painted them with the girls’ ages, then I cut our some foam board of the first letter of their names and taped it to their respective sign. It was my way of making sure that the neighbors knew that there were TWO birthdays happening at our house, so both girls could be equally celebrated (and they wouldn’t wonder why I left the decorations up more than one day). I added a “Happy Birthday” balloon between the signs as an added touch.

My family wanted to get in on the birthday celebration too. So my mom and sister came to the house in the morning and decorated the driveway and garage. A banner designed by my niece, some puffy sidewalk chalk paint, balloons, and streamers all added to the festive feel. It was a sweet way to let the girls know that our family was thinking about them, even if they couldn’t be here to celebrate with them.


This was probably the highlight of the girls’ day! I got together with some moms of Emma’s school friends and planned a little parade of cars to drive by the house and honk, yell, and make noise to celebrate the day. It was loud and fun and a total surprise for the girls. Plus, Emma was able to see and talk to her friends that she hasn’t seen in weeks, all from a safe distance. It was amazing!


Thank goodness we live in the modern age where we can still be social while social distancing! Emma had a class Zoom call the morning of her birthday and her sweet teacher took time out of the lesson to have everybody sing her “Happy Birthday.” On Charlie’s birthday, we were able to video chat with a sweet friend/former nanny and then had a Zoom call later that night with my sister and her kids so they could sing to the girls and wish them both a happy birthday.


Of course, celebrating a birthday means having their favorite food for dinner. With tons of restaurants offering delivery or takeout, getting a special meal for the day is easy. And it’s a great way to support local businesses!


What birthday would be complete without cake? I’ve always made the girls’ cakes myself, so this was another easy thing for me to do. Just because we weren’t having a party didn’t mean they didn’t deserve cake! I was able to find a couple mini cake pans so I could turn one box of cake mix into two separate birthday cakes, so each girl would get her very own on her special day (and I used my favorite cake mix hack to make the cakes extra moist and delicious). Then I added a number candle to each so the birthday girls could make their wishes.

We may not have been able to celebrate the girls’ birthdays with the big party we had planned, but with a little bit of creativity and some help from our “village”, we were still able to make the days special for two deserving little girls!

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