The month of May is due to be a big month is our family. Our oldest son is turning double figures – yes, I’ll soon be mamma to a 10 year old.

In recent years, he has had a disco birthday, a laser quest party, and a mini golf party typically for about 20 friends. This year’s options had been a football party, a swimming party, or paintball. Until, that is, the coronavirus outbreak hit.

In March, we started introducing the idea that his party might not happen. By the beginning of the month, he knew there definitely wasn’t going to be a party, at least not any time around his birthday.

Luckily, a nine year old is slightly easier to reason with and can understand that life isn’t exactly normal right now. But what do you do when your child wants to celebrate their birthday with friends?

There are different options available, depending on the age of the birthday child and on the extent to which you are social distancing.

Have a birthday party with only a handful of guests. If you really want a proper celebration, and if your child is currently attending preschool or school, you could organise a party for a small number of other children. Keeping the numbers down and holding the party outside (weather-permitting) are ways to still have a birthday celebration. Perhaps a Gruffalo party in the woods for smaller children, or paintball-style games (throwing soft beanbags/hollow plastic balls at each other) for older ones.

Have an online birthday celebration. If your child isn’t at school, then a good alternative for older ones is an online party. Using Zoom (40-minute sessions) or Houseparty (maximum 8 participants), you can keep some of the birthday spirit alive. A karaoke party, or a yoga party, or a quiz would all work well on either of these apps. Or games like musical statues for slightly younger children.

If you don’t want to host a party at all right now, you can always make your child’s birthday celebration an at-home extravaganza. Pull out all the stops to make sure that they don’t miss their friends when celebrating.

  • Decorate their room while they sleep, so when they wake, they get a brilliant surprise.
  • Tape a bed sheet over the door frame and fill the space between the sheet and the door with inflated balloons. When they open their door, they’ll be greeted with a shower of balloons.
  • If you love to bake, why not make a rainbow layer cake covered in their favourite topping and sprinkles.
  • If you aren’t a baker, then chocolate cornflakes are the simplest birthday treat you can do. There’s no going wrong with them.
  • Make an indoor treasure hunt (or one outdoors if you have a garden or outside space). Make it more challenging for an older child by making riddles/clues to find the treasure.
  • Have a film evening, with popcorn and whichever film the birthday child wants to watch.

And us? We’re now trying to work out just how to host the online gaming party that has been requested!