Today we find ourselves in a new parenting situation. Schools, restaurants and even playgrounds have been closed in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, that means that children's birthday parties have to be cancelled or at least postponed to a vague future date.

If your child's birthday falls during this time of social distancing, why not plan a virtual birthday party? Not sure how to pull it off? Check out these ideas below.

Invitations

There are several themed digital invitations available on Green Envelope, Punchbowl or Smilebox. Pick one you like and fill in the details.

Venue

Set up a virtual meeting room in an app like Zoom. This free app is available to host up to 100 participants for a 40-minute meeting. If that is too short, you can sign up for one month of Pro service ($14.99) for a 24-hour meeting time. You will need to have everyone's email address and you can add the link to the party in your invitations.

Play Games Together

There are tons of online games you can play as a group. As the host, you can share your screen with the kids (the birthday child will need his/her own screen) to play a PowerPoint game show like Family Feud. You can create it yourself to fit your theme or find a downloadable version online. Break the group up into teams and play as you normally would.

Another option for games is to use the white board on Zoom to write a cryptogram and let kids decode and share their guesses with the group. Incorporate your theme into your messages. You can use movie quotes or facts about the characters. There are cryptogram generators online like Quipqiup or Puzzlemaker to help you convert your messages to a cryptogram.

Homebound scavenger hunts are also fun. Make a list of items that you think everyone has in his or her house. Put a picture or the word up on the white board. For example - a fork. The players then have to leave the screen, go get the item and show it to the group. You can give them a time limit for each item and keep track of the person who has the most first findings for a prize. (See the Sidebar for a list of Homebound Scavenger Hunt items.)

You can set up a Kahoot trivia game and let everyone play against each other to answer questions. Again, this is a perfect time to incorporate some questions that connect to your theme. For example, if you have a superhero party, you might ask, "What makes Superman weak?" When you create the game, you will be given a Game Pin# that you can share with the group during the party which will bring them to your game.

Crafts

Yes, you can even do a craft at your virtual birthday party. If you chose a craft that needs supplies, you might need to drop them off to the guests ahead of time. You can show the kids how the craft works on your Zoom screen. For a craft the guests can do with simple supplies, you might teach the players to make origami with dollar bills, a sword out of newspaper or a castle out of playing cards.

Menu

Virtual food has not been invented, unfortunately, so we need to be flexible. My suggestion is to make brown bag lunches and desserts for the attendants and drop them off on their front porch before the party. For everyone's safety, consider prepackaged items like Lunchables, chips and an apple. Near the end of the party, you can set up a 15-minute virtual free time for the kids to eat and talk together.

Cake

Everyone still wants to blow out their candles on their birthday, so be sure to include a dessert with the brown bag lunches. When it is time to sing Happy Birthday, set your child's dessert up in front of the camera, light the candles and start singing. Everyone can watch your child blow out his or her candles and clap as they would at any other birthday party.

Gifts

Your child and the guests might ask, "What about gifts for the birthday child?" That, like every other birthday party, is up to you. You might decide to do a donation to a charity, like a virtual food drive. Or as most kids prefer a gift of their own, their guests can drop off a gift on the front porch or send an e-card.

Prizes and Goody Bags

Gift cards are a great way to give virtual goody bags. You can offer online gift cards to places like Amazon, Steam, Microsoft, Walmart or a fast food restaurant that has a drive-thru. For the winners of your games, you can send them a coupon code to Redbox so they can enjoy a movie at home with their families.


Homebound Scavenger Hunt

    Here are 20 items you can use for your Homebound Scavenger Hunt. Players find the items in their house and race back to the screen to show what they found.

  1. Fork
  2. TV Remote
  3. Coffee Cup
  4. Toilet Paper Roll
  5. Canned food item
  6. Kitchen towel
  7. Pen
  8. Ruler
  9. Backpack
  10. Hairbrush
  11. Toothbrush
  12. Framed picture
  13. Serving Spoon
  14. Playing cards
  15. Book
  16. Hat of any kind
  17. Phone charger
  18. Tissue box
  19. Battery
  20. Rubber Band

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Pam Molnar is an avid party planner and mother of three. For more party ideas, follow her on Etsy at Pam's Party Printables.