kids

Just 20 genius ideas for celebrating your child's birthday in lockdown.

Parents feel the pressure to make kids' birthdays special at the best of times, but during a global pandemic and lockdown - the birthday magic is a little harder to come by. 

My son Toby turned 11 years old this week, and with postal delays meaning some of his presents were missing, I turned to the internet for help to create some lockdown birthday fun. 

Here are 20 ideas I found online that you can use to bring the magic to your next lockdown birthday celebration.

1. Backyard fire pit and roasted marshmallows.

This is a great option for lockdown fun during the cooler months. Toby requested this for his birthday, so we made hot chocolates and got a range of sweet treats to dunk in our mugs, including marshmallows for roasting!

Listen: In the second episode of this 'kids and COVID' mini-series, The Quicky speaks to four children aged between six and 16 to find out what they are really thinking and feeling about COVID-19, especially those who remain in lockdown with their families. Post continues below.

2. Movie night with all the trimmings.

For older kids who can sit down and watch a movie for a couple of hours, why not set up the lounge room with bean bags, cushions and blankets. Turn out the lights, get individual tubs of popcorn and snacks, and let the birthday kid choose the film. Make it a family experience and maybe even allow popcorn fights, if you can bear the clean-up.

3. Lounge room disco party with added lighting.

Hot Dub Time Machine DJ Tom Lowndes streams regular weekend family 'discos' for locked down party animals. This has become a favourite Saturday night activity in our house, but would also be the perfect soundtrack for a birthday party. Mamamia Outlouder Fiona told me she took her son’s birthday disco up a notch when she purchased a laser disco ball that syncs with music. Winning.

Lounge room disco. Image: Supplied.

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4. Surprise online chats with friends and family.

One benefit of living through lockdown is that we are all experts in using online apps to communicate. While we can get sick of Zoom meetings, some apps are more social than others and Toby enjoyed an hour of his birthday on the HouseParty app playing games and quizzes with four of his friends. I let the parents know what time and I surprised Toby by handing over the iPad complete with four friendly faces ready to 'party' on screen. Very cute.

5. Treasure hunts with tricky clues.

According to Ella’s List, a treasure or scavenger hunt is a must for kids who love mystery and adventure! Two creative Outlouders Vikki and Liss were all over this trend, as they both wrote tricky clues that took their kids all over the house in the search for birthday gifts. It not only used up plenty of time, but built up the level of birthday excitement to 'maximum'.

Watch: These are the things you never say in 2021. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

6. Get outside! 

Exercise is absolutely allowed, even in lockdown. So, find an activity they love and lock it in for your allocated hour. Toby had a COVID-safe hit of tennis at our local courts, but equally a bike ride, skate or scoot in the fresh air is a way of breaking up all that home time AND to burn off all that excess energy from the sugary birthday treats. 

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7. Have a 'yes' day.

Just like the movie on Netflix starring Jennifer Garner, this is a great way to let your birthday child be the boss for a day. Sarah Anne, a member of the Mamamia Parents community, said that she gave her son a 'yes' day. While he had a budget and limitations thanks to lockdown, he still had the best day. He got to choose and enjoy a range of takeout food options, activities and quality time with the family.

8. Decorate your table.

If you can’t quite muster the energy to decorate the yard or the entire house, why not choose a manageable space like the dining room table? Mamamia Outlouder Naomi went for a pretty pastel pink theme with the gifts placed in centre and a McDonalds pancake breakfast as the cuisine of choice for her 15-year-old daughter. 

Table decor, presents and pancakes! Image: Supplied.

9. Bake or decorate something yummy.

Fill your time and bellies by baking and eating something delicious together. While Toby chose a traditional chocolate cake, many savvy culinary businesses are selling DIY kits to use at home. Hungry Homer Donuts in Melbourne are onto it, but check out what your local options are and try something new and gooey in the kitchen. 

10. Video messages from friends.

Not every kid likes to communicate with friends on screen, so this is a great way for them to feel the love, without having to chat to anyone! Let parents know in advance and ask their son or daughter to record a quick video birthday message. Compile them using iMovie (if you are feeling organised), or just sit down and play each message while enjoying some cake. All the feels.

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11. Decorate the lawn.

Get creative with balloons, streamers, fairy lights and homemade signage to make your backyard or outdoor space festive. If you live in a big city or regional area, there are companies that will deliver helium balloon arrangements to your door like Poppies for Grace in Melbourne. For a more 'low-fi' option, be like Mamamia Outlouder Fiona who covered her son’s bedroom door with balloons for fun and colour.

The balloon door surprise. Image: Supplied.

12. Smash cakes.

Smash cakes are made of a chocolate shell that is crammed full of lollies and chocolates making them a big win with the kids. The novelty and time it takes to smash one is also a bonus during long days of lockdown. Sydney Smash Cakes also sell DIY kits from their website, for delivery worldwide. With a reusable dome, you can use them time and time again, to make further lockdown birthdays bearable.

13. Old school games with a COVID twist.

Taking some time to play Charades, Pictionary or Uno is one way to ditch the screens and have a giggle at each other. Also, why not give the games a 'pandemic theme' like my sister Amelia who set up a 'pin the vaccine on the granny' challenge, and used Nerf guns for a coronavirus shootout. It doubles as great therapy too.

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COVID vs Nerf gun. Image: supplied.

14. Family camp out.

For the very brave, why not give up hope of a good night’s sleep and camp out in your backyard? Tell spooky stories by the moonlight and enjoy the novelty of seeing your home from a whole new angle. The best part is, if you need the toilet or get uncomfortable, you can always go back inside.

15. Sibling 'sleepover'.

If you have two or more kids who usually sleep in their own rooms, a sibling sleepover can create a bit of a holiday vibe! Add in some flashlights and a midnight feast box of treats to keep them entertained, while you sit back and catch up on Netflix.

16. Brunch box delivery.

Support your local cafe and order in a special birthday lunch or brunch box. A good one for tweens and teens who may prefer something a little more sophisticated than a homemade cake. Be like Naomi (see number eight) and take it up a notch with a decorated table.

17. The drive-by birthday wishes.

The drive-by birthday wishes can happen in one of two ways. If you need to get out of your house, take your birthday child in the car for a drive around the local neighbourhood with some happy music on the stereo. Let neighbours know when you will be driving by and they can come out and give you a wave or even pop a gift in the boot. The second way is to stay home and have friends and family drive past your front yard with waves, honks of the horn and happy birthday wishes. 

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18. Virtual birthday party.

According to a recent post on North Shore Mumsthere are a number of events companies that have pivoted to offer online or virtual parties. Some include magic shows, storytelling or personalised messages from superheroes or movie characters. This is perfect for time-poor or overwhelmed parents who need to outsource the entertainment to the professionals.

19. Water, bubble and mud fights.

Normally worried about mess? Throw the rules out the window and let your birthday child get super filthy in a water fight with siblings or the entire family. Add mud and bubbles if you are feeling extra adventurous.  

20. Spread out the joy.

Lockdown means all rules are out the window, so why not aim for an entire week or at least a weekend of birthday fun? Goodness knows we all need a reason to celebrate at the moment, so make it last as long as you can!

Do you have any tips to share about lockdown birthdays? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Supplied.

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