Party in Place

Sometimes, it may seem like the world has stopped spinning during the coronavirus crisis and its ensuing shelter at home and social distancing orders.
But try telling that to a child whose birthday is coming. With no hope of heading out to a local party place or even gathering friends at home, the outlook may look bleak. But there are plenty of fun options to celebrate as a family – and creative ways to include friends, too.
Don’t have a family birthday on the horizon? (Lucky you!) Break up the monotony of being stuck at home with an un-birthday party any day of the week.
Got a great party idea? Email [email protected] and we’ll add it to the list.


Online escape room. San Jose’s Beat the Lock Escape Room is now offering private online escape rooms with three different themes. Partygoers join a Zoom call to solve clues and attempt to escape the room – viewed through a live video feed – within an hour. Tickets for escape room versions geared for kids are $18 each for a group of eight or more, and the escape rooms can be customized for age groups from 9-15. Versions for adult groups are also available. Regular tickets are $25, with a discount being offered to healthcare workers. Shelter-in-place prices are valid through June 15.
Porch parade. Have your child’s friends drive or walk by (at a safe 6 feet apart!) your home to holler birthday wishes. Or ask them to make posters celebrating the birthday boy or girl.
Virtual visit. Set up a Zoom call, Google Hangout or Skype session with your child’s friends. While just a check-in may be enough to lift spirits, you can make it special by asking participants to wear a costume, join in a scavenger hunt for household items, participate in a dance party or play charades. Or have friends and family send photos or videos and create a special slideshow.
Farm-to-Zoom. Slide Ranch, a nonprofit teaching farm on the Marin County coast, will host the birthday honoree and an unlimited number of guests for a virtual tour of its 134-acre farm, complete with baby goats and lambs. Participants will get to “feed” a goat on screen. The tax-deductible $250 contribution will help Slide Rnach continue its mission to connect children to nature in the face of significant funding losses. 
Movie night. Invite everyone to a Netflix party to watch a movie together from their own homes and group chat. (Bring your own popcorn!)


Bay Area Parent reader Lori Field of Livermore is preparing for her daughter Raven’s upcoming 13th birthday. She’s hired a company called Sign Dreamers to post a large birthday message on their front lawn. In the backyard, Field plans to set up lawn games and string a line from fence to fence to hang confetti-filled balloons that can be popped with a pin. And she’s working on a scavenger hunt throughout the house for Raven to find her gifts. Here are some more ideas:
Art party. Find a project the whole family can create together. Check with your favorite local art-making location to see if they have at-home options. Alameda’s Color Me Mine, for instance, is offering same-day delivery of ceramic kits. 
Cupcake Wars. Make birthday cupcakes and have family members compete for most creative décor from whatever you have stashed in the pantry. Or try something similar with make-your-own-pizza, sandwich sampling and more. Local small businesses may also have options. National chain Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts) just released donut decorating kits available for pickup.
Dance party. It’s hard to beat an old-fashioned family dance party. Let you child help make the playlist, or try some fun line dances like the “Cupid Shuffle” or “Electric Slide.” Or let the kids teach you one of the many trending TikTok dances.
Go glamping. Set up a tent in the living room, garage or backyard and spend the night. Make s’mores with marshmallows “toasted” in the microwave. 
Fashion forward. Have family members root through their closets to come up with an outlandish outfit. Pick a theme like Hawaiian, Hollywood, rapper or soccer mom.
Indoor sports. Sure, Mom always said don’t play ball in the house. But desperate times… Clear out some space and use a balloon in place of a ball for volleyball, soccer or your favorite sport.
Rock painting. Paint some rocks, then place them around the neighborhood for people to discover.
Spa party. Soak your feet in a bathtub filled with bubble bath or bath bombs, paint nails and do face masks. You can even make your own with ingredients from your fridge or pantry. (Just don’t use what you need for tomorrow’s dinner!)

Janine DeFao is an associate editor at Bay Area Parent.


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