Celebrating Birthdays During Quarantine

In mid-March, when America suddenly closed its schools and workplaces to prevent the rapid spread of the coronavirus, many of us believed the quarantine wouldn’t last more than a couple of weeks. But now, nearly six weeks after we departed college campuses, office buildings, and crowded venues, the efforts of social-distancing drag on. As days continue to pass, spending time cooped up inside can be especially isolating for those who celebrate birthdays this time of year. Young children and their parents are forced to cancel parties, teenagers miss memorable nights out with friends, and no one is able to receive birthday hugs from loved ones. Since birthdays this year may look a little different than we are used to, it’s especially important to help others feel loved on their special day. Here are some tips for commemorating birthdays from a safe distance!

Bake something sweet: Without the busy schedule that college throws our way, there is lots of free time to bake. Lately, the trend has been to bake different types, shapes and styles of bread (trust me, I’ve participated).  But, a birthday calls for something a little sweeter! If someone nearby has to cancel their celebration due to the coronavirus, bake them a cake! Or cookies or cupcakes! Even if the final product is not as aesthetically-pleasing as an authentic bakery version, the gesture will certainly brighten someone’s day. If something goes wrong, (such as your local grocery store permanently running out of flour like mine has), there are famous bakeries that continue to ship, nationwide! Check out the websites of New York favorites like Milk Bar, Baked by Melissa, and Magnolia Bakery for great options. 

Stage a drive-by birthday parade: While it may not be safe to gather in a confined space, visits from a distance are still allowed! In my area, many families are celebrating by staging a “birthday parade,” where cars filled with friends and family drive by their loved one’s home. Visitors bring signs and balloons, honk their horns, and yell to this drive-by party. Our local police and fire department have even opened up their services to the parents of children with canceled parties. They drive by with lights and sirens blaring, bringing smiles to everyone’s faces.

Cook/pick up a favorite meal: While birthday dinners at favorite restaurants may be impossible right now, most local favorites are open for take-out and delivery! Let the birthday boy or girl pick their favorite meal and order it to eat as a family. If that’s not for you, try cooking a favorite dinner as a family. Last week, I cooked for both of my parents. While the process wasn’t without something burning in the oven and a few critiques of my knife skills from my Dad, the final product made for a fun and memorable family dinner. 

Drop off a gift: My best friend from high school had a birthday at the end of March. He was originally supposed to travel to California with friends from college and was evidently sad to have missed the opportunity. On his birthday, following social distancing rules, I dropped off a gift and some balloons at his doorstep. In these unprecedented times, it is the small things that make people smile.

Send a card: One of the many reasons we wish we were back on campus is to celebrate our friends’ birthdays! This sudden change of plans can be especially hard because we left Brown for our homes, oftentimes hundreds of miles away apart. Recently, my roommate turned 19, so I sent her a card in the mail along with a cheerful birthday text. Sometimes a hand-written, mail-delivered note can bring more happiness than a simple text - especially in times like these. 

Make a post-quarantine plan: When this is all finally over, there will be plenty of time to make up for all the lost birthdays, celebrations, and fun times with friends and family. Make plans for when these social-distancing measures ease up! Celebrate all the missed birthdays, schedule lots of quality time with loved ones near and far, and enjoy time together again.