With the COVID-19 pandemic, many mamas are having to cancel birthday parties. While we understand the importance of social distancing, it can be tough for preschoolers and young kids to grasp the concept of not having their friends celebrate their special day with them. How do you explain that friends and family still love them, but can’t be near them? Having your child’s birthday during a pandemic is uncharted water for mamas, but it is something we can learn how to navigate through quickly.

Here’s how to successfully throw a virtual birthday party for kids when your household is quarantined:

1. Set a date + decide how to host it

First, you want to schedule a time that works for family and friends for a video chat. There are so many video conference platforms, but Zoom, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and Skype are our favorites.

If you think a video call might overwhelm your child, dedicate a specific time to each friend and family member rather than hosting a huge virtual group hangout. Depending on how many people you want to involve, you can schedule it all on the same day or throughout their birthday week to keep the party going.

Once guests are on, have your little one join the chat while they sing “Happy Birthday.”

2. Decorate the background of the room

Ask guests to pull out their party decor, and decorate the area where they will be taking the call. If they don’t have any party decor lying around, provide them with some photos they can print of your child’s favorite characters. This way, the child will see that despite the distance, everyone in their circle is still celebrating them on their special day.

As for your home, pick a theme centered around your child’s interest and go all out with the decor. The goal is to make them feel special and to get them excited about another year around the sun. Need ideas? We love Social Studies, an occasion box service that offers themed boxes with balloons, confetti, streamers and other goodies.

3. Have their favorite character send them a video

Although Spiderman or Elsa may not be able to make a physical appearance at your child’s birthday, find a company that provides these services and ask if their characters would mind sending your child a video message instead. Since it is virtual, you could reach out to any company that provides this service—you’re no longer limited to only what is available in your area!

4. Get creative with the food

Let your kid pick out their dream meal. If you ask your child, “If you could eat anything you want for dinner, what would it be?” and they reply with, “An ice cream sundae, chocolate cake, Sour Patch Kids, and strawberries with whip cream.” Then go for it! It may be on the unhealthy side, but it is just one meal, one day a year. You can do it, mama.

5. Have a birthday scavenger hunt

There are many ways to get creative with this. You can hide small presents around the house or yard and provide clues for your child to use to find each one. If your child is into pirates, you can create a treasure map for them to find their presents. Get creative with it and make it a fun game for them.

6. Ask your neighbors + loved ones to decorate birthday signs

Call your neighbors and ask them to make happy birthday signs to be displayed in their front windows. At a scheduled time, take your child for a walk and have all the neighbors come to their front door to wish him a happy birthday from afar as they walk by. If you live in an area where your neighbors are far away, or you do not know them very well, coordinate this with local family and friends and take a little drive (at a safe distance).

7. Watch movies together

Watching a film together is more realistic than you may think. Simply download the Netflix Party extension and your guests can watch a Netflix movie together. There’s a chat room feature allowing everyone to chime in on the film and you can start, stop and pause the movie at the same time. Or, FaceTime with loved ones and start the movie at the same time.