The reality of a global pandemic has changed many of our social norms and traditions, often replacing them with smaller, more intimate versions of what we might be used to.

One area where this will be felt heavily is children’s birthday parties. At Alert Level 2 in New Zealand, we are allowed to see friends, but numbers still must be kept small, and social distancing procedures must be followed. This means birthday parties will be different – but making them different doesn’t mean they have to be any less fun.

GLAD’s new #WhatsYourDifferent campaign embodies this notion, encouraging New Zealanders to make the most of our new realities, and embrace them instead of rejecting them.

Whatever aged children you have, birthday parties can still be made to feel special. GLAD’s top 7 ideas for socially distanced birthday parties are as follows:

  1. Camp out – if your children enjoy camping, set up a tent in the backyard and make your own campsite! If you have an gas cooker or a brazier, use these for cooking food and toasting marshmallows for an authentic experience. Spending a night out under the stars will be exhilarating for adventurous kids.
  2. Drive-by parade – if your child usually has big birthday celebrations, why not organise for those kids (and their parents) to do a drive-by with balloons, signs, and music? Get your child to stand on the driveway and watch as their friends drive past, yelling “happy birthday!”. It’ll make your child feel extremely special, but from a safe distance.
  3. Virtual game night – games are an easy way for kids to connect with their friends, so on their birthdays, why not make this a little more special? Send out invitations to all of your children’s friends to meet online at a certain time, and play a specific game. Set up party food and music, and let them enjoy!
  4. Cake decoration – instead of presenting your child with a fully iced cake, you could let them have a go at decorating it themselves, in whatever wacky way they want! Five different colours of icing in separate bowls along with sprinkles, lollies and other decorations can make for a very fun birthday activity.
  5. Arts and crafts – send out goodie bags to all your children’s friends, and set a time for you all to meet via Zoom or Skype to complete them together. This could be a painting activity, a clay sculpting activity, or even birthday card making – try theming the arts and crafts activity around your child!
  6. Spa day – if they’re old enough, treat your child to a manicure, pedicure, face mask, or even a makeover – if they’re into YouTube tutorials or beauty of any kind, this will go down a treat!
  7. Happy birthday video – get all friends and family members from across the country/world to record quick 5 second happy birthday videos, wishing your child a wonderful day. Condense these videos into one, and play it to your child on their birthday to show them how many people are thinking of them.
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