Around 17.7 million people are celebrating their birthday on any given day of the year. For the millions of us who will be marking birthdays, celebrating wedding anniversaries or throwing baby showers while in lockdown, there are still ways to make the day special.
With just a bit of creativity and the power of technology, here’s how to throw a top party from self-isolation.
Wine and cheese night
Tell all of your guests to purchase the same cheese selection box and ask each to pick a wine or two to pair with them. Then organise a video call so everyone can explain their selections and discuss the merits of a Somerset goat versus a Cornish Yarg.
Selections of artisan cheeses can be ordered online from specialist retailers such as Pong Cheese and The Cheese Society. Our favourites are Pong’s French Superior Selection Box, with its deliciously pungent mix of creamy Epoisses and tangy Roquefort, and the Society’s Cheesemongers Choice.
If your friends are more beer connoisseurs than oenophiles, try the craft beer cases from Beer 52 and do a virtual tasting together online.
We’re living in the 20s: bars are shut and people are turning private spaces into secretive drinking holes. Get all of your friends to create their own at-home speakeasy, stocking up the cabinets with liquor and tuning in to some jazz on the radio. You can find plenty of ideas for homemade cocktails here.
Professional mixologists have been sharing their expertise online, so pick a video and watch along together as you learn how to make your favourite cocktails. Then admire each person’s creations via video call.
A night under the stars
Just because hotels and b&bs are closed doesn’t mean you and your partner can’t celebrate an anniversary with a romantic weekend away. Pitch up a tent in the garden, grab some blankets and a few deckchairs and spend the evening stargazing.
Make sure to get up early and deliver a freshly cooked breakfast in bed (sleeping bag) to secure yourself some bonus points.
The best part? A hot shower or bath is just a few metres away – and there’s no chance of a noisy family pitching up alongside.
Don’t let the lack of a garden put you off. Even city dwellers can spot stars using this handy guide. Why not take your daily exercise late at night one evening and see what you can spot? You can impress your partner further by downloading a stargazing app and dazzling them with your knowledge of the constellations. There’s plenty to see at the moment – look out for Venus after sunset.
For those who don’t fancy sleeping al fresco, why not switch things up and go on holiday…,in your spare room? You can deck it out with flowers, fresh towels and nice soaps on the pillows and pretend it’s a hotel. Sleeping somewhere different will break up the usual lockdown routine and make you feel like you’ve been away (well, almost).
Zoom dinner party
People have been quick of the mark in finding online replacements for their usual social calendar and zoom dinner parties are now all the rage. Cook the same meal as your ‘guests’ , dress up and arrange a time to eat it together. Video call app Houseparty makes it easy to play after dinner games like Pictionary and charades.
Alternatively go to town and opt for a DIY approach – create a ‘Generation Game’ conveyor belt from a roll of bin bags and test your friends’ memory of the objects whizzing past their screen: a bottle of corona beer, a loo roll, some dettol. The options are endless.
A Children’s birthday bash
Trying to explain to young children why a global pandemic means they can’t have the pirate-themed birthday bouncy castle, BBQ and water fight they’ve been looking forward to for weeks is tough. But you can soften the blow by telling them they’ll have a party unlike anything their friends have ever experienced before.
Invite their friends to get dressed up and beam into the party via their parents’ smartphones or computers. Then send them scurrying round their respective houses in search of items like summer hats, toothbrushes and slippers on a virtual scavenger hunt. Games like musical statues also work well via video link.
Teenage children who are past the days of musical statues could organise their own online sleepover. From spooking each other with ghost stories and playing truth or dare to doing karaoke videos together, you can still have fun even if you’re not snuggled up in the same room. Netflix has its own party option so sleepover guests can throw a movie night together and swoon collectively over their favourite actors.
Virtual day trip
Living with someone and stuck on what to buy them? Why not get them an experience instead?
Hundreds of the world’s best museums, zoos and famous landmarks are offering free virtual tours and concerts while in lockdown. Think back: have they ever said they’ve always wanted to visit The Louvre or take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon? Now they can.
If you’re off for an afternoon in Paris, get out your best patisserie skills and whip up some eclairs or macarons for after or kick off your virtual hike through the Grand Canyon with a stack of maple syrup pancakes.
You can also enjoy iconic natural phenomena from your own living room, as websites are doing live-streamings of the Northern Lights and underwater videos of teeming coral reefs.
Pick your favourite comic and invite your friends along for a video call and laugh along. Some comedy clubs such as London’s Comedy Unleashed are organising online stand up shows. Check out comedy site Chortle for the latest list of shows.