Sometimes you want to, or have to, celebrate a birthday at home. You might think these won’t be as fun as one where you go somewhere with friends, however with a bit of thought an at home birthday celebration can be fun and memorable.
We recently celebrated my husband’s birthday, our first during lockdown. The UK restrictions meant we weren’t able to meet up with anyone or go away from our local area. So I had a challenge to celebrate a birthday at home, with just us, when what he wanted was a birthday with his family at the coast.
Questions to ask when planning a birthday at home
There are many reasons why you may want to celebrate a birthday at home such as simplicity or budget. Before you start planning what you’re going to do, answer these questions to make sure the celebrations fit your current situation and are fun for the person celebrating their birthday.
- Why do you want to celebrate at home? This could vary from mobility to financial concerns, right through to the unexpected like the lockdown restrictions many of us are experiencing at the moment. Once you’re aware of this reason you can take it into account when you’re thinking about activities, for example if there are mobility issues you may not want to create an obstacle course.
- Who do you want to include in your celebration and how are you able to see them? For example if people live far away you may need to do something online, and if there are restrictions you may be limited to the number of people you can include and where you can see them. For example, as I write this in the UK we are limited to meeting 5 other people in an outdoor space.
- What would the birthday person normally do if they had a choice? Is there a way to incorporate that, even if it is in a different way? For example, for my husband’s birthday we’d normally be in Dorset spending lots of time outside, probably on a hike, having cream tea and eating at a restaurant. We were able to incorporate all of these with a scavenger hunt around the village, scones and having a take away from a local restaurant.
- Are there any time restrictions or notice you need to give? Two examples for us, all the local restaurants were closed on the actual birthday, so we arranged the takeaway meal for a couple of days earlier, and we wanted to do an activity with a friend who works on shifts, so we had to coordinate around those which meant doing that activity a day early.
- How old is the birthday person and what do they like? This is about them, so it is important to think about what would make them happy on their birthday.
- How capable is everyone with technology? Does this limit what you can choose or do you need to set things up in advance so you don’t need to help people on the day? For example this could be making sure they know how to use apps like Zoom, Skype or Houseparty. Or can you do different activities with different people to fit.
Create a list of activities you may want to do
I recommend creating a list of all the activities you think will be fun, and fit your above answers. It is better to start with too many so you can work out how to get the best combination. It also gives you the opportunity to see if there is a theme you could go with. For my husband’s birthday at home the theme became codes and mysteries based on the items on my initial list.
Once you start thinking about activities you can do at home or online, you’ll suddenly realise there are loads. Here is a list to get you started:
- Escape room physical or online – we did Bewilder Box as recommended by a friend
- Do an activity at the same time as other people e.g. craft, cocktail making
- Slumber party — this could be in a den or a tent and could involve the whole family or connecting to friends doing it at the same time
- Watch a film together, sharing a screen using Zoom or through Netflix party, if your friends are local you could drop snacks at their houses
- Dress up for the whole day or just for dinner
- Murder mystery party
- Play games such as Codenames, Bingo, Heads Up, Just One, Wavelength, Scavenger or Treasure Hunt
- Dance party — you can get disco lights, black light or smoke machine. If you want to connect with people who aren’t with you, use Zoom and a shared playlist.
- Allow the birthday person to be a birthday boss — where whatever they want happens, such as staying in pyjamas all day or having ice cream for breakfast. This could also become doing things they’re not normally allowed such as painting on walls.
- Go on a virtual museum tour or see a play or stage show together.
Schedule the activities
Now you can put together a plan, taking into account the activities you’d like to do any time restrictions. Be realistic with your plan, don’t try to squeeze too much in as you don’t want to be stressed rushing to get to the next activity. However, you may want to have a few simple activities you can bring out if there is a lull. For us those were board games that fitted the theme of codes and mysteries, but we didn’t get on to them.
It may not be possible to arrange everything for the actual birthday, this could actually be a good thing as it extends the celebration and builds up the anticipation. However, I do think it is good to do something on the morning, for example presents and breakfast, so they feel special as soon as they wake up.
The plan for my husband’s birthday was
|Day||Activites we did||Activities we didn’t get to|
|Saturday||Meal from a restaurant|
|Sunday||Online escape room with friends||Murder Mystery Party via Zoom|
|Paper and app based escape room|
Mystery board games
Codenames via Zoom
As it happens we didn’t do quite a few of them which means the birthday celebrations are still continuing.
It is important to consider how much are you capable of doing. Thinking back to the questions you asked at the beginning, if you have financial concerns you want to keep these simple, perhaps using decorations you already have, if you have mobility issues you may not want to be hanging decorations or making lots of food.
People are more likely to remember their birthday because of the fun they have with people than how the house was decorated. Perhaps do some spot decorations just in the places where you’re going to be taking photographs or connecting for a live video. For example:
- Create a birthday throne
- Birthday banner in a visible location
- Have a bubble machine
- Put up a backdrop
- Blow up balloons
- Make them wear a birthday hat all day
Ask the birthday person what food will make their day special. You may be surprised how simple it is, for example my husband wanted scones instead of a birthday cake which meant we saved time not decorating. You can also make it special by eating somewhere unusual for example in bed or on a picnic. We did afternoon tea in the garden. Of course, you can always get them helping with the food by making it part of the activities such as a cooking lesson or decorate a cake.
You may not have originally intended to do a birthday at home. However, we are often more creative when we have constraints, so this could be the start of new family traditions.
How have you celebrated birthdays at home recently?