With summer in full swing, it’s birthday party season for a lot of little ones. But in our new normal, it’s hard to know if it’s possible to throw a birthday party responsibly. While you may see others on social media celebrating, it’s important to listen to the experts and take the proper precautions. If you do so, you can celebrate with friends and family while staying safe and having fun.
“The only safe thing is not to have the party. Let’s be clear about that,” says Jason Farley, professor of nursing, infectious disease-trained nurse epidemiologist and nurse practitioner in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins Schools of Nursing and Medicine.
However, if you want to have a celebration, you can minimize and mitigate risk, Farley says. Because, despite the pandemic, celebrations still matter and help build a community to support children, even if it’s virtual for now.
“Mitigation is to keep it small, know who’s coming and set risk mitigation strategies upfront,” Farley explains. “Risk mitigation strategies would be communicating to folks, ‘Please don’t come if you have symptoms, please monitor for anything that’s out of the ordinary and we are great to have you on Zoom.’ Create space and opportunity for people to be there virtually.”
“If they’re outside and they’re playing games, think about the games you play with children at a birthday party,” says Farley. “If you have the space, a kickball game would be much better to do than something that’s in really close proximity.” Skip the bounce castle this year and try these fun games and activities instead.
Gofindit Outdoor Nature Scavenger Hunt Card Game for Families ($12.50; amazon.com)
This scavenger hunt for kids 3 and up gets them outside to find objects in nature that match the cards’ descriptions.
Giggle N Go Flarts Outdoor Games for Family ($29.99; amazon.com)
Floor darts can make any party fun, and this set, which is good for toddlers and up, comes with a traditional bull’s-eye and a monster face.
Melissa & Doug Bollie Ladybug 8.5-Inch Rubber Kickball ($9.99; kohls.com)
Get a simple game of kickball going with this adorable ladybug ball that’s sure to bring smiles.
Rukket Kickball Set With Bases ($43.99; amazon.com)
If you’re more serious about your outdoor activities, up your kickball game with this set that includes bases, balls and a ball stand.
Yard Dice ($50; uncommongoods.com)
Older kids and adults will love playing games like Yahtzee with this top-rated oversize dice set. Just remember to properly sanitize and wash hands before and after playing.
Rainbow Birthday Parade Car Decorations Kit ($17.97; amazon.com)
Decorate your car and take a spin around the neighborhood so your birthday girl or boy can say hello to their friends with this easy birthday decor kit.
“When I personally have had small gatherings, I do my best to implement the same risk mitigation plan: Please don’t come if you’re symptomatic,” Farley says. “I’m asking you, we’re all going to be outside. If you’re coming inside, wear a mask into any space that’s enclosed. If people are coming inside for the restroom, just put on your mask.”
Masks for Birthday Party (starting at $10.99; etsy.com)
These cute theme masks make it clear whose special day it is and who’s there to celebrate.
Variety 5-Pack of Triple-Layer Cloth Face Masks for Kids ($12.50; oldnavy.com)
Have a few packs of these fun masks on hand for anyone who forgot (or lost) theirs.
Cloth Fabric Face Mask, Superhero Theme ($12.95; amazon.com)
Your little one will feel like they can save the world with this cute superhero mask.
If you and your family feel more comfortable with a virtual party over Zoom — which the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control says is the lowest-risk gathering — or if you’re hosting a small group, make it into an event with balloons, music and more.
Capkit Balloon Pump and Party Balloons Kit ($26.99; amazon.com)
Create a festive backdrop with this colorful kit that comes equipped with a ton of balloons, supplies and even a pump. As one reviewer raves, “Love this! Had a blast blowing up balloons for my daughter’s birthday.”
LZVPL DIY Balloon Arch & Garland Kit ($15.99; amazon.com)
Everyone loves a balloon arch, and this top-rated kit makes creating one for a party simple.
Pink and Gold Birthday Decorations Party Supplies Set ($18.99; amazon.com)
Create a gorgeous party for your glitter-loving kid with this pink sparkly set, which is available in blue, silver and gold as well.
“Celebrate” Party Glasses Gold, 10-Count ($2; target.com)
Order several packs of these in advance and send them to friends and family to wear on a Zoom call.
34-Inch Number Balloon ($6; target.com)
While candles on the cake may be out of the question right now, you can still celebrate a new number with this cute balloon.
Vibe Bluetooth Speaker & Lantern ($110; uncommongoods.com)
Set a celebratory mood with this gorgeous glowing Bluetooth speaker.
Harlow & Grey Sprinkles ($16; amazon.com)
Plate their treats or cake individually with these charming paper plates.
150-Piece Rose Gold Premium Plastic Cutlery & Plates ($35.99; amazon.com)
Serve cake and juice to the whole family with this fun, sparkly party set.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.