So it’s your birthday soon. Congratulations! You’re an Aries. Unfortunately, your special day also falls during the time when we’re all supposed to be social distancing, so a normal, real-life party is out of the question.
Time to get creative.
People are already holding classes, hosting meetings, and enjoying virtual happy hours on the video conferencing platform Zoom, so it’s likely you’ll attend a Zoom celebration at some point even if your birthday doesn’t end up happening during self-quarantine. You also don’t have to have a Zoom party: There are plenty of nice (albeit strange) IRL ways to celebrate, too.
None of this is ideal, to be sure, but there are ways to make it fun. And remember: It’s your birthday, so you can go as big or as small as you want. Here are a few suggestions.
1. Give your Zoom party some structure
A-Zoom birthday party can quickly turn into 30 people all interrupting each other for 40 minutes until the meeting times out. Luckily, Zoom has a few features to mitigate the chaos.
One option is the breakout rooms feature, which allows the host to divide the call temporarily into smaller groups. The host can even move between calls — the Zoom version of “making the rounds” at a real-life party.
“I had about 35 people on my call so splitting them into smaller rooms of 7-8 made it easier for them to all talk,” said 25-year-old Freia, a product manager in New York who recently hosted her own Zoom birthday party.
She also recommends the audio sharing feature, which allows the meeting’s host to share their computer audio with participants (kind of like screen sharing). “I used this to play background music during the party,” she explained. “It’s a lot clearer since they’re hearing the music directly on their computer.”
And of course, don’t underestimate the power of activities. Amelia, a 29-year-old genetic counselor in New York, plans to ask her party attendees to either share their favorite poem or recommend a book during the call. “That way every person has a designated *time* to talk and it isn’t too crazy,” she explained over Twitter DM. “Booze or tea is highly encouraged.”
2. Alternatively, just get drunk on Zoom
A-Zoom party doesn’t have to be super organized. If less planning would reduce your stress, simply gather some friends together on Zoom, embrace the chaos, and drink. BYOB, obviously.
gonna host a zoom meeting for my birthday party. BYOB, girls get in free, dm me for the code
3. Go heavy on the “happy birthday” calls
We’re hearing actual voices a lot less these days, so a phone call likely means a lot more than an “hbd” text alone. (We would suggest including a “Happy Birthday” serenade.)
One caveat: A lot of people have phone anxiety, so if you don’t speak with the person on the phone regularly, it might be worth texting beforehand to make sure it’s OK with them.
An 11-year-old named Jack in Marietta, Georgia was disappointed when he had to cancel his birthday party this week. Luckily, his mom came up with a plan: She rallied their neighbors to drive by their house at the same time to honk and cheer, with signs and streamers in tow. It was extremely cute.
Plenty of people use their car horns for evil; now’s your chance to use yours for good.
You might not want to organize a full birthday caravan, but if your kid (or you) feels disappointed about a party cancellation, try putting a big birthday sign in your front yard and texting a few folks to drive by and honk. Plenty of people use their car horns for evil; now’s your chance to use yours for good.
5. Support local businesses
Restaurants in your area are probably closed for in-person dining (even if they’re not, you shouldn’t be eating out right now), but plenty are open for delivery and curbside takeout. As glorious as canned beans are, you’re still allowed to treat yourself on your birthday if you can. (Or treat a friend!) Just make sure to observe social distance practices for everyone’s safety — and if a delivery worker brings food to your home, tip them extremely well.
6. Screw it, do a corny Facebook post
You know those Facebook templates where people ask their friends to “share a fun memory” or a compliment in the comments? Yes, they are very corny. Yes, they are a bit “here’s that attention you ordered.” But a lot of are starved for social interaction right now, and there’s nothing wrong with soliciting a little validation. It’s your birthday!
7. Have a sleepover with your roommates
Your roommates already live with you (did you know?), so you can’t technically have a sleepover with them. But you can enjoy a reasonable facsimile of a sleepover by gathering in one room, building a fort, and watching House of Wax (2005) starring Paris Hilton. No flexibility on the movie choice, unfortunately.
8. Watch a movie together virtually
You can’t sit in the same room as your friends to watch Portrait of a Lady on Fire, unfortunately. You can, however, sob through it together using one of several apps, extensions, and websites that let you sync up your Netflix streams. Not sure which tool to pick? Mashable has a handy guide.
how are me and my friends going to have a Netflix party when we all use the same account
9. Put a birthday hat on your pet
Have a pet? Is that pet generally OK with wearing stuff on its head? Put a party hat on that pet. Pets famously live rent-free in our homes, so the least they can do is put on a hat every once in a while. (I am joking.)
10. Do literally nothing
Remember that your birthday is your day. You don’t have to do anything at all. The world is scary right now and it can be difficult to feel excited about celebrations, much less plan them — if you’d rather just call your mom and rewatch The Office, that’d perfectly fine.
If you love your birthday, though, you deserve to celebrate it. No matter the circumstances, it’s worth it to find joy where you can.