Updated: Feb 13
What is really sad is that we are now approaching the point in the year where we will have children who are turning 2 years old and have never known a birthday celebration outside of lockdown.
Of course at the age of 2 very few children have a grasp on the concept of birthdays, and what that actually means. But that's not to say they don't still enjoy the fuss, fun and celebrations that come with them! For parents of these children, I can't imagine how hard it must be to be contemplating celebrating your child's birthday without family & friends for the second year running.
My youngest Zachary, born on the 1st of the month, narrowly escaped a lockdown birthday celebration last March. My eldest Jake wasn't quite so lucky and celebrated his 7th birthday in full lockdown last June. At 7 of course he was infinitely more aware of the lack of the usual birthday party with school friends, celebrations with family, and all the trappings that come with it.
Just because we can't celebrate in the usual manner though, it doesn't mean our little ones growing another year older isn't still something special to mark and celebrate. Even more celebratory is the fact we have managed to survive another year of parenting! Go us!
So for anyone who's looking ahead to the next few weeks or months and wondering how on earth you can mark this moment whilst in the midst of a national UK Lockdown and still make it feel different and special to the humdrum days that have become our norm - then this blog is for you.
BOUNCY CASTLE HIRE
We hired a bouncy castle as a surprise for Jake. my eldest, for his birthday in lockdown last year. It was AMAZING! Literally the best money I have ever spent, and I've spent ALOT of money on parties over the years. Maybe it was the fact that we had spent so many months at home and have a new found appreciation of things, or maybe it's that my Mother was right after all and birthday parties don't need to involve the whole class to ensure your child's happiness - either way, Jake reviewed it as "the best birthday ever" and that was more than good enough for me!
We used: https://www.hertsbouncycastles.com/ and I couldn't recommend them highly enough. Super efficient, great communication, the equipment was super clean and was all set up for us so we didn't have to do anything- and they were happy to accommodate when I phoned last minute to ask if we could keep it another day! (That's how much we all loved it!) If you have space in your garden for one then go for it! The only thing I would say is that bouncy castles outside are weather dependant (wind, more so than rain) and for this reason I was glad I had kept it a surprise as I would have hated for Jake to be disappointed on the day if conditions were not deemed safe enough.
Much the same as above, but a great indoor option if you don't have outside space and more suited to younger children. This is the perfect option for that special 1st birthday celebration at home. Your little ones will love it and will be exhausted come the end of the day! Ready for a good nights sleep while you celebrate surviving your first year of parenthood with a glass of something yummy!
Again, I've used www.hertsbouncycastles.com in the past and would highly recommend them as they have such a great range!
Just because you're stuck at home there's nothing to stop you decorating the house still the same way you would a hall or venue.
For professional balloons I love:
Buntings Balloons, Buntingford - https://www.facebook.com/buntingballoons/
I've used both companies personally and they're both great. Definitely bear in mind the size of the display and the size of the car you'll be collecting in when ordering.... I once drove all the way home with my rear view blocked by a giant inflatable elf! There are lots of other companies in Hertfordshire but these are the two I have used personally and can recommend. One is in Stevenage, the other Buntingford
I know lots of us aren't working right now but balloons don't have to be expensive, Amazon do some great balloon arch kits you can make at home. I make all my own balloon garlands myself and trust me if I can do it anyone can. Just search "balloon garland" on Amazon and you'll find some great DIY kits that will make your little ones day, and make your photos look fab!
VIRTUAL FARM TOUR
This is amazing, my little boy LOVES the farm. We have membership at Willows Farm near St. Albans, Hertfordshire - https://www.willowsactivityfarm.com/ and this was where I was hoping to hold his 2nd birthday party before we went into lockdown again.
If you have a little one who's into animals, and especially for preschool and early primary age children this virtual tour looks so much fun! You can have unlimited people on the zoom call, so grandparents and cousins can join in too, and at only £18 this is a steal! https://www.cronkshawfoldfarm.co.uk/farmerseyeview
A GOAT WITH A NOTE
Now this, I don't even have words for this, but I'll try because as many people as possible need to know about it - it's brilliant! I never thought I would find myself writing a blog about goats with notes, but here we are!
This is one of the best ideas I've ever heard! Kudos to the Farm owners for thinking of it, I'm constantly amazed at how businesses have adapted and diversified throughout this pandemic, it is so commendable.
So what is a goat with a note?
"For when you have important news to share that requires more pizazz than a normal Zoom call!
Book one of our goats to deliver your special message to friends and family via video call as a written note with edible ink on edible paper.
Once the Goat has arrived in your video call they will let it be known they have some exciting news to share on your behalf. Once everyone is paying attention the Goat will present your special note for your comrades to read. After everyone has had chance to read your news the goat will then gobble up the note! Mmm, Delicious!
We know this is bonkers, btw. It's 2021. Just Goat with the flow."
It's £10. I've spent more than that on cards and wrapping paper before that end up in the bin. I think this is such a bargain for a moment that will no doubt be remembered forever!
AT HOME BOWLING ALLEY
I came across this idea last year on a popular Facebook group for family fun ideas during lockdown. It's super simple and fairly budget friendly. You might already have a set of garden skittles at home but if not you can get them really cheap online, and as we come into spring lots of supermarkets stock them in their garden toys aisle so keep an eye out for any bargains!
To go all out on this you'll need:
Toy Skittle Set - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twiddlers-Skittles-Bowling-Set-Kids/dp/B07Q582B27/ref=sr_1_10?_encoding=UTF8&c=ts&dchild=1&keywords=Bowling+%26+Skittles&qid=1612740220&s=kids&sr=1-10&ts_id=5230737031
You need to wait for it to get dark for this activity, or use a dark room in order for the backlight to work.
Mark out a bowling alley on the floor using the UV tape, it's perfect for long hallways or just in your front room. Wooden floors work best, but it's possible on carpet too. You'll just have to be careful with the tape.
Decorate the skittles with the UV tape too so they glow in the dark. Cook some yummy "bowling alley" food. We went for hotdogs and chips! The little retro baskets are a nice touch to make it more authentic for older children. We also ordered slush puppy syrup and mixed them with ice to make home made slush puppies in our blender - soooo easy, much cheaper than buying slush puppies out! And the syrup lasts for ages so you can use it again in the summer for family BBQs etc. Our 7 year old absolutely loved this, we laughed non stop whilst playing and he really appreciated the little touches like the slush puppy and the fast food basket.
TRADITIONAL PARTY GAMES
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. There's a reason these traditional games have been around for so many years and are still entertaining children around the world today. The classics are always the best! And super easy to do at home, with limited resources.
Pass the parcel, musical statues/chairs, pin the tail on the donkey, simon says, sleeping lions, the tray memory game, egg and spoon race & a pianta are all traditional children's party games that will go down a hit with small children. If they don't have siblings to make it fun, (we all know adults are boooooring!) then get their school friends or cousins involved, something like musical statues can be played online over Zoom.
I hope this blog gives you some ideas for lockdown birthdays! I'll be sure to let you all know what I come up with and decide to do to celebrate Zach's 2nd birthday if we are still locked down on 1st March!