I just celebrated my (mumble-mumble)-1st birthday this past Friday. Yup. During quarantine. During the economic shutdown. Last year, my birthday looked like this: a group of 10 of my closest friends met at my home for a drink, then we hopped in Ubers to A favorite Mediterranean restaurant where we all ate off giant shared plates of hummus and passed around the hookah before meeting another 50 of my friends and acquaintances at a bowling alley/bar for some games and drinks. In today’s reality, none of that is possible or okay.
First off, by adding me to the pre-dinner-drinks, that’s already 11 people—more than are allowed to get together during social distancing. Then we got in Ubers together—in close proximity. Five of us packed into a little car. For the record, Uber and Lyft have suspended their shared ride services for now, in response to COVID-19. Then we all dipped our bread in the same platter of hummus and baba ghanoush, now knowing who has washed their hands and when. Then we shared a hookah, putting our mouths on the same little spout someone else just did. This style of birthday party just simply couldn’t happen today, and may not happen again for a very long time.
Fast forward to March 27, 2020. I’m in a cabin in Vail, Colorado, hundreds of miles from where I typically live. We came here to escape the over-run hospitals of the major city in which I live, because my partner already has compromised lungs, and if he gets sick, we can’t risk being told there are no ventilators available. My birthday, as you can imagine, looked a bit different this year. But we made it work, as many will have to whose birthdays fall during the coming weeks. Here are ways to celebrate your birthday during the COVID-19 quarantine.
Make a quarantine cake
The first thing you have to do is embrace the chaos and accept that this birthday will be a bit different. So, if you can’t get to a bakery for your favorite cake, make a quarantine cake out of your odds and ends items. For me that looked like a baking pan with one layer of Oreos, one layer of frosting, and one layer of fresh strawberries, all with whipped cream on top. What’s your quarantine cake? Hey, at least you’ll never forget it.
Host a virtual party
Send out an E-vite, just like you would if you were going to have a real party. Include a Zoom link that’s set for a specific day and time. And host a virtual birthday party! You could send out instructions in advance, so everyone can experience the same thing, like a special cocktail recipe you’d like everyone to prepare or costumes you’d like them to wear.
Play virtual drinking games
If you’d usually play drinking games on your birthday, don’t let the apocalypse stop you. You can get a group of friends on Zoom or Google Duo and play virtual drinking games. You could all watch the same movie and play a movie-based drinking game, like watch “Zombieland” and take a drink every time a zombie gets killed. That feels appropriate for the given circumstances. Netflix party is one easy way to enjoy online content with friends and stay connected right now.
Play charades over FaceTime
A good old-fashioned game of charades never gets old, and that’s an easy one to play on a virtual platform. Or you could play a game of 20 questions. Or F*ck, Mary, Kill. Maybe add some stakes to it, with the loser of each round having to donate some money to the charity of your choice.
Enjoy the traffic-free streets
Nobody is out there. If you live in a place that typically experiences terrible traffic (you can see how your city ranks here), consider taking a drive, and enjoying the spookily quiet streets. Just be sure to know whether or not your state has a stay-at-home order before you do this.
Let your quarantine buddy pamper you
Are you quarantined with somebody else? Let him pamper you. Don’t do a single dish today. Don’t take out the trash. Have your quarantine buddy draw you a bath and make you a meal. Maybe he’ll give you a pedicure. Or do laundry for you. Just taking a break from chores can be a nice gift.
You’ll have to make this announcement early, so friends and family don’t prematurely spend money on you in other ways. Choose a non-profit organization that matters to you, and have friends donate the money they would have spent on your gift, to that. This is a pretty comprehensive list of organizations working to fight COVID-19.
Have a driveway party
You can certainly maintain the six-feet-apart rule if you have a driveway party. Just have everyone meet in your driveway or culs-de-sac—or if you don’t have one of these, have it on your block, and just ask neighbors for their permission. Everyone can sit on the hoods of their cars and hang out, celebrating you. Everyone can bring their own drinks and treats, to prevent the spreading of germs.
Go wherever you want via virtual reality
If you already have a virtual reality headset, then you’re good to go. If you don’t, perhaps request one for your birthday. They can be pricey, so you could have friends and family pitch in to get you one. Then you can “go” anywhere you want in the world, while stuck on your couch.
Let friends entertain you
It’s your birthday, so friends should abide by your wishes! And maybe you want them to entertain you. Whatever their talent is—joke-telling, song-writing, story-telling—have designated time slots during which each friend will FaceTime or Skype you and entertain you.
Eat literally whatever you want
I mean come on it’s your birthday and the world is falling to pieces. Is today really the time to follow culinary rules? Put chicken nuggets on top of a pizza. Put full sausage links in your bloody mary. Put mac and cheese on your burger. Make combinations that little-kid-you would have drooled over.
Reminisce on past birthdays
Take a walk down memory lane. Ask all of your friends to compile photos and videos from past birthdays into one shared Dropbox file. Or they can each make a fun little presentation, and share them on a Zoom party. There are probably hundreds of photos from previous birthdays you’ve never seen.
Plan next year’s party
Since your options were so limited this year, plan next year’s. Prepare to go all out. What would you normally have spent on a birthday party? Well, you didn’t do that this year, so you can double up next year. Make a detailed list of possible ideas for next year. From party ideas to trip ideas—don’t hold back. Let your imagination run wild. And next year, you’ll be ready with your plan.
Sleep as much as you want
It’s not like there’s much else to do during quarantine, so let yourself sleep in. Sleep until 2pm if you want to. Tell everyone in the home not to wake you. If there is one thing you deserve on your birthday, it’s a mental escape from what’s happening in the world, and sleep can give you that.
Have a puppy party
If you love pets, have a puppy (or pet) party via Zoom. Ask all of your friends with pets to meet you on Zoom, with their animals. You can watch them do tricks and play with their favorite toys. Just watching cute animals can do the soul good.