Balloons are at the ready. The cake has been decorated and the party playlist carefully curated. Bottles of miscellaneous alcohol clutter the kitchen counter, with any leftover space taken up by cheese and pineapple sticks. Every surface sparkles with streamers, dances with neon lights and exudes a good time. The only thing missing, really, is the guests.
Up and down the UK, hundreds of thousands of people have had birthdays similar to this following the lockdown announcement on 23rd March, with the guests joining only in spirit, via apps such as Zoom or Houseparty. According to the BBC, more than 320,000 children and teenagers had ‘Lockdown Birthdays’ between 23rd March and 2nd April and there will no doubt have been countless others since. This includes my own 18th, as well as some of my friends, all of whom reached the freedom of adulthood from within their own homes. But, as anyone who has celebrated a milestone during quarantine will know, it’s not all about going out or spending money: we have come to appreciate the little things, good food or time spent with loved ones. The typical lockdown birthday is like the quiet, unassuming dog at a rescue centre, not noticeable at first but the one you will be most grateful for.
When brainstorming ideas for my 18th before coronavirus, going to a restaurant was bottom of my list – it was the least interesting option – and now I would love nothing more than to have dinner out with friends. We wouldn’t let coronavirus stop us from seeing each other, though, as we surprised each other with happy birthday messages (from 2 metres apart!) and spent hours on Houseparty on my 18th. Most will agree that any video calls with friends and family are weekly highlights and, as I found out on my birthday, these become even more memorable with some drinks involved and some good music in the background. Add to this a game of Truth, Dare or Shot and you’re onto a winner. Sometimes the simplest plans are the best, and of all the ideas for lockdown birthdays online this is the one I’d recommend.
At no other time in our lives have we been so grateful for good food. Perhaps it’s because we have more time to appreciate it or perhaps it’s because we have nothing better to do than eat (!) – either way the food is the main event in a lockdown celebration. My 18th was no different, with enough food to feed the whole street: a BBQ and party food the night before, a full English delivered in the morning and a gorgeous salted caramel cake (thanks mum!). If there’s a friend or family with a birthday coming up you can take the home delivery to a new level and order them a cake hamper. M&S have started selling a ‘Happy Birthday Surprise Gift Box’ – containing a chocolate cake, a box of Swiss chocolates and prosecco – while https://www.funkyhampers.com offers a Retro Sweet Tuck Box for anyone with a sweet tooth. So, even though you can’t spent your big day in a favourite restaurant, a little food goes a long way.
After my own 18th, helping my friends celebrate their birthdays and reading about how other WordPress bloggers spent theirs (shout out to A Blog For Anything and Tasha’s Lifestyle), it is easy to see that each is unique; despite not having the freedom of pre-coronavirus we can each make lockdown celebrations our own.