social distancing birthday ideas

How to Celebrate Your Birthday During Social Distancing

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I don’t know about you, but I always have the hardest time thinking of what I want to do on my birthday. And that was before I had to think of social distancing birthday ideas. Oye.

It can be a pretty big bummer and feel really limiting that you’re hardly allowed to go anywhere, and can’t see any of your friends. But it’s still possible to find a way to enjoy your birthday and make it special.

If you’re like me, you like to strike a balance between doing something extravagant and doing something utterly forgettable or too “routine”. You’re looking for a happy medium. These 19 ideas should strike that balance perfectly and make your special day something memorable and fun, in spite of COVID-19.


My favorite social distancing birthday ideas:

1. Have a favorite movie marathon

Take a day or two to enjoy a marathon of some of your favorite movies, and allow yourself to enjoy them guilt free. You don’t need to be productive. It’s your birthday. Love the Harry Potter series? Classic Westerns, like the Lonesome Dove? Scary movies? Or round up your favorite comedies. Pop some popcorn and get yourself some movie snacks like you would get at the theater and make your movie den cozy. If there’s someone you haven”t been social distancing from, like your partner or your room mate, have them join in!

2. Phone a friend, watch a movie

A spin off of the idea above: if you don’t have someone to watch movies with in person or you have someone you WISH you could watch with, call them on the phone and plan to press play on your movie of choice at the exact same time. This used to be more difficult in the days of VHS tapes, but now with streaming you can make sure you both start on the exact same time stamp.

3. Have a virtual house party

Download the House Party app, either on your phone or on your computer, and play some games with the friends you can’t be with! House party is a way for you to video chat with friends so you can hang out virtually and host “parties”. The app has different games available for everyone to play together, so you can all have something to be doing instead of staring deeply into one another’s eyes over video chat.

4. Play a murder mystery game

There’s nothing like a classic Whodunit. You can find a physical game to order online if you’re planning ahead enough, but most of them are designed for a big group to play, which social distancing doesn’t really allow for.

However, there are some virtual murder mystery parties from groups like these. My Mystery Party is a site that claims to add new games weekly, so you may find something you like.

Alternatively, if you want to play a virtual one solo, this one seems pretty interesting. I haven’t played it all the way to the end, but I played for  while and it seems like a lot of time and effort was put into it. Personally, I think this one seems better than the ones on the first site, judging the first ones solely on trailer videos for their games.

You can search around the web to find a game that you like. Just make sure that it’ll be one you can either play on your own or play virtually with friends.

5. Bake a cake

Baking a cake (or some kind of special dessert) is one of the things that makes me feel most like it’s a special occasion, because I hardly ever bake them. That makes it perfect for making your birthday feel special, even though you may feel limited by the shelter in place measures. Get a classic family recipe from someone in your family, or hunt around online for a recipe you want to try.

6. Pamper yourself

Having a relaxing day where you just do a few extra nice things for yourself is a great way to make sure you have a great day. Here are some ideas, but feel free to think up your own.

  • Ask your partner for a massage
  • Give yourself a mani/pedi
  • Make a DIY face mask
  • Make a hair mask with coconut oil and essential oils
  • Shave your legs and use a nice moisturizer on them (coconut and lavender oil works great to soothe skin!)
  • make yourself some tea or cocoa
  • take a bubble bath
  • take a nap
  • stretch or use a foam roller
  • use some blackhead strips
  • give your hair a trim, if you’re brave!

7. Go on a hike

So far, we’re still allowed to go outside to get some exercise and stay mentally healthy, so take advantage! Go on a hike somewhere where there won’t be many people or it will be easy for you to maintain appropriate social distance. Being outside in nature will do wonders for your mood. Pick somewhere you’ve never been before or don’t go to often, so it will feel different from your routine and be memorable later. Keep in mind that state parks may be closed, so if you choose a place like that, make sure it’s open before you head out to avoid disappointment.

8. Build a fort and break out the board games.

This one pairs perfectly with the movie marathon option, and yes, it’s childish. But when was the last time you built a fort? Do you remember how awesome they used to be? I guarantee it will be a memorable thing to do on your birthday, and you can watch movies or read, either alone or with someone, inside. You could play board games, do a tarot reading, color, or play with a spirograph.

9. Talk to people on the phone

If you’re craving social connection more that solitude and pampering, call up some friends and spend the day catching up with people. It’s amazing how little people actually pick up the phone to call one another when it’s such an easy thing to do.

10. Do a puzzle

My boyfriend’s family has a christmas tradition of hanging out all afternoon and working on a difficult puzzle together while drinking wine, chatting, and generally lazing about while dinner is cooking. Then we have a delicious dinner and dessert, and it’s so lovely and relaxing.

11. Cook a nice meal for yourself

Whether you’re a good cook or not, making a meal for yourself is a great way to mark the occasion. Make one of your favorite meals, or if you’re feeling adventurous or are not super skilled in the kitchen, try a completely new recipe! The internet is full of ’em, or you could try one out of a cook book you have laying around. It’s fun to try new things and learn new things, ESPECIALLY if the end result is something edible! Is that just me? I love food…

12. Make a love list

My cousin recently introduced me to a birthday tradition she loves, and I’m planning on implementing it too. When it’s someone’s birthday, she and her friends encourage that person to make a list of X number of things they love about themselves. The number of things on your list should be the number of years you are old, so if you’re turning 30, you list 30 things you love. I think this is a great exercise because it puts you in a mindset to be appreciative of yourself and helps you exercise a muscle that is probably very weak – complimenting yourself. We’re so used to identifying our flaws and making self-degrading comments, but really terrible at recognizing and appreciating our strengths, talents, and value. It’ll probably feel uncomfortable at first to think of this list, maybe even more so to be talking through it out loud with a friend or partner, but don’t get discouraged. Keep adding to it as things occur to you throughout the day. Your friends and partner can help spur your thinking by telling you some things THEY love about you if you get stuck.

13. Day drink mimosas

Three words: Open. Mimosa. Bar. It’s your birfday. Why the hell not spend the day drinking mimosas? Especially if you’re not working right now because of COVID and have nowhere else to be.

14. Set up a dino party

Make a little birthday party with whatever little creatures you’ve got around the house. Think little plastic dinosaurs, army men, beanie babies, even house plants. Make little party hats or leis for them. Think back to when you were a little kid and set up tea parties with your stuffed animals. Find a way to do something similar and create something festive to surround yourself with that make you feel celebrated. Is it silly? Absolutely. Will it make you smile each time you walk by it? Probably, and that’s the point.

15. Spend the day doing something creative

This is one of my favorite social distancing birthday ideas. One of the most surefire ways to put myself in a good mood is to do something creative. Just MAKE something. You may have a creative project in mind that you just haven’t had time for up until now. Whip it out! If you don’t have a project in mind and need some ideas, check out some of the online classes at Bluprint.

They have tons of classes that teach you specific skills and exactly how to make certain things step by step, with great video, and skilled craft people! If you don’t want to pay for a professional class, make YouTube or Instructables your friend! It’s super satisfying to do something creative that has a tangible result at the end.

16. Order in and read all day

If your favorite restaurant is still open for to go orders, treat yo’self and order in! Grab a book and dive into it. It can be so relaxing sometimes to escape for the entire day into another world, particularly if you can do it without having to stare at a screen all day.

17. Create a time capsule

Create a time capsule for yourself that you won’t open for at least 10 years. There are lots of ideas online for what to put inside a time capsule. Some of my favorites:

  • A playlist of 10-20 of your current favorite songs
  • A few photos
  • A local newspaper
  • An About Me worksheet that takes a snapshot of your life
  • A current magazine for current events and/or celebrity tabloids
  • ticket stubs from concerts, movies, and events
  • A future oriented magazine (one that makes predictions)
  • A poem or piece of writing of yours
  • Letter to your future self

What if I’m planning for someone else’s birthday?

These last two ideas are more for if you’re looking to find ways to help someone you love celebrate their birthday.

18. Make a tribute video

If you plan ahead, you can ask friends and family to record a short video where they either talk about the birthday person or just send their wishes to them. You can ask people questions that may elicit funny answers, much in the style of newlywed/bachelorette videos, or just ask them about what they like about the person, or to tell a funny story about them. It’s really up to you what kind of videos you want to make, but I’m sure they’ll be so surprised and pleased to see all of the people in their lives on video taking time to make sure they have a great birthday.

19. Create a scavenger hunt

This is an old classic. Whether you have a gift for the person or just a note or card, you can make a very fun game of making them work for it! Write a series of clues for the birthday person and hide them around the house. Each clue should lead the person to the next one, and you can make it as long or short as you want. A couple of tips: make sure you do your best to hide the clues in ways they won’t be found by accident and out of order. Make sure the clues are challenging enough to make them have to think about it for a minute, but not so hard that they won’t be able to solve them. If it’s too hard, it won’t be fun, it will just be frustrating. It takes some effort to write good clues, but that’s part of what makes it just as fun to create the hunt as it is to be on the hunt.

With these 19 social distancing birthday ideas, there’s no way the coronavirus can keep you from having a good time.

Hopefully there’s something on this list that appeals to you, but if not, it should at least help get your own ideas flowing.

Every good birthday celebration needs drinks, amiright? Check out my other post about how to stock your liquor cabinet.

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That’s all for now.


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Hey there! I'm Megan.

Hey there! I'm Megan.

I believe in cultivating a happy life with intention, using one small building block at a time.

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