6 Fun Ways to Celebrate Your Friend's Birthday During the Pandemic

With all of the stay-at-home orders and safety guidelines set in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost everyone has had to celebrate a birthday at home over the past year. But just because we need to stay safe does not mean that you can’t make your friend’s birthdays memorable! Here on campus, we just celebrated one of my best friends turning nineteen in the dorms--COVID guidelines and all--and it may have been the best celebration yet. After experiencing many birthdays, and through trial and error, I have complied a list of all of my favorite things to do during the pandemic to make your friend feel special on their day:

  1. 1. Plan a socially-distanced gathering

    A super easy and obvious way to celebrate is by gathering your closest friends (after receiving negative COVID tests, of course) and masking up and hitting up somewhere outside! My personal favorite spot is the Northwestern Lakefill, and everyone can bring a different snack or food and their own towel and sit outside in a distant circle, bump some music on a portable speaker, and enjoy some company and nice weather. This idea does require nicer temperatures but is definitely a personal favorite of mine for the warmer months.

  2. 2. Decorate their dorm room or door

    If you are in college, a super quick and fun way to make your friend feel special on their day is to grab some decorations from Target or the dollar store and bring some birthday fun into their space! Fill their beds with balloons, toss some streamers on the ceiling, and you are good to go. If you can’t get into their room, print out some of your favorite pictures and decorate their door; that way, everyone can see that your friend is celebrating and join in with some birthday wishes.

  3. 3. Host a Zoom party

    If your friends are all over the world right now, grab your laptop or phone, start a Zoom call with all your closest pals, and have a great time catching up! You can take turns swapping stories, or even plan some games to play if you want to kick it middle-school style, like “never have I ever” or “truth or dare”. It will definitely be a great time and be a birthday that they’ll never forget.

  4. 4. Have a movie night with a "Netflix Party"

    Does your friend appreciate a chill night in? Then get everyone on Netflix and utilize the “Netflix Party” feature. You can all stream the same movie or show at the same time from all your devices, and have fun commenting and chatting about it during. This is a great way to all come together yet relax at the same time. Plus, who doesn’t love a good Netflix girls’ night?

  5. 5. Send them a birthday treat or gift box

    If you can’t think of what to get your friend for their birthday, send them a fun surprise! Plenty of local bakeries and stores will deliver cakes to your friend’s dorm, apartment, or home. If they aren’t a cake-lover, send Insomnia Cookies their way instead; they even have a special “Happy Birthday” jumbo cookie! Also, there are plenty of gift box companies online that will mail your friend a cute package to celebrate them. My favorites have been sendafriend.co and boxbabegiftco.com. You can also find a ton of cute options on Etsy.

  6. 6. Plan a drive-by car parade

    If your friend is living at home, organize a car parade! For my friend’s birthday back in Cleveland, we got 25 cars to all line up on a neighboring street to hers, all made signs and brought presents, and got her to stand in her driveway while we all blasted music, showered her in gifts, and rang in her birthday in a COVID-safe way. This has to be the most unique way I have ever celebrated a birthday but is definitely the most memorable way as well.

These are just some of the many ways to make your friend feel special as they celebrate their birthday while keeping themselves and others safe. Check out Pinterest for some more fun ideas as well, and have a great time planning some fun birthday activities!