In a unusual twist, a pandemic party would possibly really be the best celebration you ever throw.
A party below regular circumstances takes hours of preparation: cooking and cleansing, adorning and primping. This 12 months, you solely have to dress from the waist up and tidy the nook of your house that individuals can see on video chat. Honestly, bonus.
You also can benefit from the brand new format to embrace far-flung household and mates who may not have been in a position to be part of in-person gathering.
A socially distant birthday does, nevertheless, name for a sprint of corniness and a pinch of magical pondering (and keep in mind, in case you are not up for it, it’s fantastic to sit this one out). But you may, for certain, make it really feel actual.
“Is this thing on?” video conferencing logistics
This is the least enjoyable however an important half: Make certain individuals have clear directions on how they’ll attend.
Zoom works, however you’ll be restricted to a 40-minute trial for those who do it without cost. You may additionally strive a Google Hangout, which is free and limitless, though possibly barely glitchier. If you download an extension from the Chrome website you can make your screen into a grid of everyone’s face.
On the invitation, put the start time (with your time zone, if you’re inviting people from different regions), as well as detailed instructions for how to join the call.
If you’re inviting relatives who are not so savvy with tech, you could try to set up a call beforehand, so they have a trial run. Review steps like muting and un-muting. It will take a few minutes, but it will help with connecting during the party.
Also, make it easy for guests to gracefully and honestly decline your invitation, as some people just may not be in the party mood.
At the end, take a picture, even if it’s a screen grab.
Spotlight individual guests
As host, call on people. It admittedly might feel a little forced. But organic group conversation over video chat is almost impossible, and everyone will be glad to have a chance to speak.
One strategy is to ask everyone to prepare a memory, a roast or their Dad-est joke. You could also ask everyone to say something they’re thankful for, or looking forward to. Helping your friends find joy in their lives right now might be the best gift you can give back to them.
You could, also, ask them to get dressed .
“If you don’t tell them, they’re going to show up in their pajamas,” said Seri Kertzner, the owner and founder of Little Miss Party Planner, a New York City event planning, styling and content creation company. “It just gives a reason to celebrate. It makes it more fun.”
If your friends have a flair for the dramatic, try a theme. It’ll be entertaining, if nothing else, to see how people make do with what they have in their homes. For adults, a decade theme or maybe a color palette. For children, maybe trot out their Halloween costumes. Why not? This is a pandemic. There are no rules.
Or, ask people to spend some time primping, maybe even put on their fanciest clothing. It might feel silly sitting in front of a laptop in a ball gown or bow tie, but it might also give everyone an opportunity to play dress-up.
You *could* try for a socially distant hang
If you are comfortable, and if your local government permits it, you could get together while staying apart. Some suburban revelers have been doing drive-by gatherings, a procession of SUVs there to wave.
You could, also, ask your friends to tailgate at a distance. Have everyone bring a lawn chair, a snack and a drink. Set up outside — either in your own driveway or backyard, or in a parking lot or park. Be extra, extra careful. But if you stay far apart, you should not endanger each other.
Make it feel like a party at home
Even though you might be looking at the screen, you do still have a body and you do still exist in a three-dimensional space. (This can be tough to remember right now.)
So make sure there’s something sweet. A whole birthday cake might be depressing, but desserts can be good for one person, too.
If you want to relax, call a local small bakery. They could use a boost and will appreciate the business.
If you want to make something, you easily can. Margaux Laskey adapted a recipe for a delicious Chocolate Mug Cake, which is one of the quickest and simplest things to make on NYT Cooking. There’s also Tejal Rao’s Blender Chocolate Mousse, which tastes better than most restaurant offerings. If you’re hosting a children’s party, you could try to make something with your kids. Editors at NYT Cooking have compiled 53 recipes you could do as a family.
You could also ask all your guests to make the same thing. Send out a recipe at least a week in advance, so they can stock up on their grocery run. If you’re of age, you could add a cocktail to your snack.
You should try to set up a party, even if you’re the only one in the room. Clean up a corner of your space, and pull out some colorful decorations for yourself.
If you are a guest, maybe give decorations as a present. Ms. Kertzner has an online shop , Little Miss Party in a Box, which ships curated party boxes and supplies in various themes.Parents are buying baby shower boxes for their children. Children are buying birthday party boxes for their parents. The boxes start at $39, plus tax and shipping and Ms. Kertzner donates 10 percent of her profits to the Food Bank for NYC. . “This has exploded,” she said. “I can’t keep inventory in stock.”
If you are feeling a little more extravagant (or have deeper pockets), The Kiki Kit, a virtual party-planning service, has a birthday option for $75, which includes party supplies for two, or a customizable box that starts at $250. (The company donates 10 percent of its profits to Feeding America.)
If it’s an adult’s birthday …
Take the initiative and set up the party for them. Work out the logistics, so they do not have to think about it.
As for presents, for an older relative, you could record a virtual scrapbook. Ask family and friends to record videos of themselves in advance, so you can compile a series of greetings for them to play a few times during the day.
You could also throw them a surprise birthday party. Ask them to video conference with you, and then surprise them with a gallery view that includes the whole family.
Milestones matter. They’re what makes life feel sweet, and life could use some extra sugar these days.
If it’s a child’s birthday …
Start by talking to them about how this year is going to be different. This can be an adventure, something to look forward to, even if they can’t see their friends in person. You can build a fort at home together, or try for an ambitious craft project. Try some funky baking project, or give them “magic powers” for the day.
For the party, keep it short and sweet. One hour is probably the maximum amount of time, so make sure you give your guests both a start time and end time. The other parents on the call will appreciate it.
Consider hiring entertainment. There are still music classes and faerie entertainers, magicians and clowns, and they offer virtual shows. (The website Mommy Poppins has a good list.) A Connecticut-based music school, Jumpin’ Jams, has started livestreaming birthday parties for babies and toddlers from the owners’ living room. The wheels on the bus can, in fact, go ’round and ’round.
Or, send every house a kit for a craft project. Be kind to other parents — think of age-appropriate and not messy endeavors. Maybe try for a Lego kit, or have everyone draw their favorite animal. After a few minutes, ask the children to show their projects.