Covid has been a part of our life for almost a year now, and I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up with it. These are hard times for everyone, but especially for children : they have even less control on their lives (and the situation) than our adult selves, and one year is a HUGE amount of time when you’re four, or five, or even 10. Distance learning is hard, ever changing sanitary protocols in open schools is hard as well, having stressed parents is hard. Having your birthday party cancelled is awful when you turn 6. Or 7. Or 5. Well, you get the idea.
Covid will be here a few more months (I don’t want to write years).
In my opinion, children need to celebrate their birthdays. They need to be celebrated and feel special and see their friends and get presents. Not necessarily expensive presents, a thousand friends and a huge celebration, but still. Sometimes a skype session with your grandparents is not enough !
I am NOT suggesting you should have a huge party, disrespect your local social distancing / lockdown / curfew rules or anything like that ! Nor encouraging you to go beyond your own limitations or do anything you’re not comfortable with. I just want to offer you a few ideas if you decide to have a safe-but-still-cool birthday celebration.
Location and guests
Most experts say outdoors is safer, because more space means easier social distancing, and there’s lots of air.
Limit your invitation to a few best friends instead of inviting the whole class (that’s the French way of doing it anyway). Bonus if the children all go to school together, as you won’t be mixing social bubbles.
If you have a backyard, great ! For most of us in the Paris area who do not, I would recommend your local park / playground. Bonus : as children from the same school typically live in the same area, you all avoid public transportation by walking to the party (and having it in a place you would probably have gone to anyway).
Having people wear masks as much as possible makes it safer – and remember to provide hand gel. (psst : cute masks and hand gel also make nice party favors!)
Some parents may not feel comfortable about sending their kids to a party these days, and that’s okay. You might want to have a chat with them beforehands about the measures you’re taking to avoid contamination. No judgement necessary – everyones tries to do their best for their families.
Food and drinks
Birthday party means birthday cake, full stop.
However, having a child blow (and spit) on a beautiful, big cake before handing everyone a slice does seem a little… 2019.
You could prepare a big cake to share, and a little cupcake on the side to put the candles on.
And why not get some cute, happy-meal style boxes for each guest containing a cupcake, a little water bottle (you could customize the label for a 100% instagrammable effect), sweets, party favors, you name it ! That way you avoid glass sharing, cake touching etc. Be careful to write names on everything – or provide markers for kids to do it themselves.
Games and activities
If your party is in the summer, a pool party / water games theme is just perfect.
For those of us who gave birth in the winter (october and february babies here !), we can still have a cool party – remember there is no bad weather, just inadapted clothes.
Again, be clear with the guests’ parents beforehands that you will need the children dressed appropriately for an afternoon outside – and that you might have to change the date in case it’s pouring. Unless you want to wear your prettiest wellies, umbrellas and rain suits to have a puddles party ! Some smaller children would just LOVE this.
Here are a few outdoors ideas that still work when it’s cold !
- Bubbles ! You could buy big bubble wands and give one to each child as a party favor (to avoid sharing), get a set to make GIANT bubbles, or even have a professional bubble show like Sarah’s !
- Sidewalk chalks : again, a cool party game doubling as a party favor. Have everyone draw the birthday child, or self portraits, or write compliments to each other. Having the birthday child lie on the ground (if it’s dry…) and drawing a story arond them will make cool photos ! BONUS : if you walk by often, you will see the drawings for a few days.
- Treasure Hunt : This one is always a hit, especially if party favors are to be found at the end of the hunt. My children are young, so I do a very simple version with things to find and names to write on a collective spreadsheet, but you could have riddles, puzzles and ciphers if that’s your thing !
- Pinata : my children just love this activity, so I HAD to include it here. Just remember to have everyone wash their hands before they have a turn !
- Mud pies / potions / jumping in puddles : Take advantage of being outdoors and get messy ! This will make your party a day to remember (you may warn parents in advance and ask for a set of clean clothes though)
- A Motor Skills relay race : Jum from hoop to hoop, climb the ladder, slide the toboggan, run around the swings, accross the sandpit and back, then the next child goes under everyone’s cheers. A nice way to burn off some energy and get warmer !
- Facepainting / Glitter tattoos : Glitter tattoos are especially appropriate these days, because everything is either one-use or cleaned with 70% alcool between each child. If you prefer facepaints, do know that I also have a safety protocol so I can paint children without risk – even masked ones !
My friend Elise made custom masks and hand gel bottles as her party favors and I just LOVED the idea !
Have you had a birthday party since March ? Or did you have to cancel ? How did you manage ? Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook group English Speaking Families in Paris – Kids Party Tips & Ideas !