Pandemic-Approved Ways to Celebrate your Birthday

We all dream of how awesome our 21st birthdays are going to be once we get to college.  We expect the bars, the cool ice-blue margaritas, the wild stories to be told after college; No one expected a pandemic. Several of my friends had their birthdays during the initial months of quarantine (myself included), and none of our original plans could feasibly be executed. However, we didn’t let COVID-19 ruin our birthdays. 

You don’t have to either. While the coronavirus has changed our perceptions of birthday parties, that doesn’t mean you have to give up celebrating at all. Below are five pandemic-approved ways to celebrate your birthday.

  1. 1. Host a drive-thru fiesta

    This creative idea was popular during the beginning of the pandemic, especially since it allows you to have an unlimited guest list. Simply decorate your yard and tell your family and friends to drive by your house to wish you a “happy birthday.” You can decorate your yard using balloons, streamers, yard signs, or Christmas lights from the attic. If you’re feeling really creative, you can make a throne or platform to sit on as your birthday parade makes its way past your house. 

    Encourage your guests to play your favorite song or honk their horns to show their support. If it’s your 21st, you can have a “stock the bar” version and have each guest bring an alcoholic contribution to stock your new bar. 

    A spin-off of this idea is to have you and your friends park in a circle and celebrate by playing music or setting up an inflatable screen and having a makeshift drive-thru.

  2. 2. Get creative with Zoom

    I know everyone probably hates Zoom after attending classes and meetings day-in and day-out, but there are ways to make a Zoom party exciting. With a variety of games or themes to try out, the possibilities are endless. If we are really trying to find the silver lining, it is infinitely cheaper than hosting a full-blown birthday party. My friend really pushed the limits by hosting a murder mystery-themed birthday party over Zoom. She had everyone make a background for their character and bought a script from the company Lazy Bee Scripts. From there, she and her guests had a blast acting out their characters and solving the murder. Other alternatives are trivia, virtual movie nights or any other online games. 

  3. 3. Go outdoors

    Host a picnic with blankets set 6 feet away from your besties. You can each make a dish to bring, or pack individual lunches and enjoy the fresh outdoors. You and your friends can even get creative and bring some paint and small canvases to make birthday presents you will never forget. If you don’t want to paint, bring along cupcakes and decorate them for a dessert fit for a birthday queen. However, be careful of the Gainesville heat, and make sure to bring an umbrella in case of an unexpected rainstorm.

  4. 4. Float at the springs

    Many of the local springs around Gainesville have reopened, but there are capacity restrictions. The springs are an easy place to social distance at, especially Ichenutucknee Springs where you can float along the wide waterway. Tubes are available to rent at most places, or you can bring your own float. Conversely, you and your friends can kayak or canoe in the springs to get a nice workout. Either way, make sure to pack a cooler for drinks and wear your favorite bathing suit.

  5. 5. Spend the day with your family

    If you are not in Gainesville this semester and are living at home, don’t be afraid to spend your birthday with your parents. After all, they have been there since your first birthday! My birthday was at the end of April, so this was my only option at the time amidst finals week. My parents knew how stressed and anxious I was with everything going on, so they threw me a party. They decorated the whole house, baked me a gigantic chocolate fudge cake and cooked me my favorite meal. Even though it was just my parents, brother and boyfriend, it is still one of my favorite birthdays. It was relaxing to not have to plan anything, and I enjoyed being able to spend quality time with my family who I normally don’t get to see on my birthday at college. 

Even though you can’t celebrate your birthday as normal, it doesn’t mean you have to succumb to a boring day. The options are endless when you get creative and have your friends and family to help. Whatever you choose to do for your birthday, make sure you are considering the health and safety of others. 

Some things to consider are the number of people, the distance between people, how other people have been taking proper precautions and how safe the activity is. For example, if someone has been traveling, then it might not be a good idea to invite them to your in-person party the day after they return. Also, if you are doing an in-person party, make sure to observe social distancing guidelines that you can review here.

With that, I wish you all a fun (and safe) birthday!