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Lockdown birthday ideas: 11 ways to celebrate during the coronavirus pandemic

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Lauren Geall
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Women having a zoom party to celebrate a birthday during the coronavirus lockdown

Wondering how to celebrate a birthday in lockdown? Here are nine great ideas to get you started.

With lockdown 3.0 showing no signs of ending anytime soon, people with birthdays in February and March are having to reimagine how they celebrate. 

Gone are the days when a birthday meant getting all your best mates together for a drink down the pub. With restrictions on leaving our homes – let alone meeting people from outside our households – set to last until at least March, a traditional celebration may be off the cards for some time to come.

However, it isn’t all bad news. Sure, we might not be able to celebrate our loved ones’ birthdays how we usually do, but there are still plenty of things we can do to make the most of their special day – even if the majority of the fun does take place on a Zoom call.

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Whether you’re looking for ideas of how to celebrate a birthday in your household or have been tasked with the challenge of organising someone else’s special day from afar, we’ve got loads of great ideas to help you make their lockdown birthday one to remember.

So without further ado, here’s Stylist’s guide to celebrating a birthday during lockdown, from the most unique virtual experiences to the best letterbox friendly gifts.

1. Deck the halls

They may not be able to throw a proper birthday party, but that doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate some decorations to help them mark the occasion.

First things first, you’ll want to get them a balloon. Although you could buy them a pack of deflated balloons for them to blow up and throw about the house, we like the idea of treating them to a pre-inflated helium balloon – this one from Moonpig ticks all the boxes.

But you don’t have to stop there. Websites like Not On The High Street and Etsy have loads of different personalised and handmade birthday decorations, with everything from banners to cake toppers. And if you’re looking for something extra quirky, these illustrated party supplies by Helen Ridley are seriously cute.

2. Book a virtual experience

A woman making cocktails at home
Lockdown birthday ideas: try your hand at something new with a virtual cocktail class.

Throwing a virtual celebration doesn’t have to be stressful thanks to the number of fantastic virtual events and experiences that are now available to book.

From cocktail classes and virtual murder mysteries to magic shows and wine tasting experiences, there are plenty of great ones to choose from.

For example, if you’re looking for a way to get all your friends together for a drink in a socially-distanced environment, Slingsby Gin’s Virtual Gin Experience is a great way to spice things up. For £30 a person, each guest gets an experience pack containing four G&T’s, a glass to drink them from and a packet of crisps, which you can enjoy while a member of the Slingsby team talks you through the history of your drink.

And if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, Airbnb and Virgin Experience Days have a range of different digital experiences to choose from – just take your pick!

3. Host your own (virtual) party

It may sound pretty obvious, but getting a group of your friends together on Zoom to celebrate can still be pretty special.

Just because you don’t fancy splashing out on a virtual experience, doesn’t mean you can’t create your own fun – if you’re not tired of virtual pub quizzes yet, why not create your own one themed around the birthday girl or boy?

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You could also organise your own activity to do together: for example, there are lots of tasting kits available to buy online – why not ask everyone to invest in a kit and enjoy the experience together over Zoom? 

If you ask us, this cheese and wine pairing from The Cheese Geek (£50) sounds pretty great.

There are also plenty of online games and activities you can do for free if none of the above float your boat. If you’ve got some money to spend, we’d recommend trying Among Us,(£3.99 on Steam) a game which sees players work together to uncover the ‘imposter’ among them. 

4. Give them something to do

Embroidery kit
Lockdown birthday ideas: keep 'em busy with a crafty gift.

Give the gift of distraction by surprising your friend or loved one with a craft kit or creative project. Not only will this give them something to do during lockdown, it’ll also leave them with a memento of this strange time.

If you don’t fancy gifting them an embroidery kit (these ones from Sew Botanical are some of our favourites) why not try Lisa Angel’s needle punch kit (£40) for something on the easier side, or opt for Cast’s bespoke jewellery making kit (from £29) for something extra special. 

5. Make plans for when lockdown is over

One of the worst bits of celebrating a birthday in lockdown is not being able to see all your friends and family, so looking forward to a time when we can all be together again is a great idea.

None of us knows when the coronavirus pandemic is going to end, but reassuring yourself (or a friend) that you’ll celebrate when restrictions lift will give you all something to look forward to throughout this uncertain period.

If you want to give them something in writing, why not treat them to an experience day that they can redeem at a later date? 

6. Invest in a delivery-friendly gift

A houseplant
Lockdown birthday ideas: a letterbox gift is a great way to surprise a friend – you can send everything from houseplants to bottles of wine.

Lucky for us, there are plenty of gifts you can send through the post these days to suit every type of person, so you’ve got plenty of gifting options to choose from.

Although most things that are bought online can be sent direct to a friend’s house with a birthday message, opting for a letterbox gift is a great way to treat a friend and ensure their gift arrives safely. Plus, because the gifts fit through a letterbox, you won’t need to pre-warn your friend that a parcel is on its way, making it the perfect surprise.

With gifts ranging from gorgeous macarons and beautiful bouquets to houseplants and puzzles, you can take your pick! 

7. Treat them to dinner…

With restaurants closed for a little while longer – especially in areas under tier 3 restrictions come December – treating your friend or loved one to a DIY meal kit is a great way to help them bring the restaurant experience to their home.

From mouthwatering burgers to artisan pasta, there really is something for everyone – if you ask us, Dishoom’s Bacon Naan Roll Kit (£16) would make the perfect birthday breakfast. 

8. … and drinks

What would a birthday dinner be without drinks?

If they drink alcohol, why not treat them to a bottle of wine (this letterbox-friendly bottle would make the perfect birthday surprise). You could also invest in a cocktail kit if you want to get super fancy.

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If they prefer to keep things non-alcoholic, there are loads of options to choose from too. This alcohol-free cocktail gift pack is a great place to start if you want to provide the illusion of drinking alcohol, but if they’re not fussed, something like a kombucha or bubble tea making kit could be fun, too.

9. Pick out a special card

Seeded Card from All Paper Everythings
Lockdown birthday ideas: this seeded card from All Paper Everythings can be used to grow wildflowers after use, making a perfect two-in-one gift.

If you’re looking for a way to make a friend or family member’s birthday special from a distance, consider investing in an extra special card.

Oliver Bonas have a great selection of cards by different designers which you can currently order online, or you can use a card delivery service like Thortful (who have now released a fabulous collection of isolation and quarantine-themed cards) to have the card sent straight to a friend with the message already printed inside. 

Independent designers also tend to sell unique cards perfect for showing your friend how much you care – this seeded card from All Paper Everythings on Etsy can be torn up and planted after it’s finished to grow a patch of wildflowers.

10. Supply some sweet treats

Make their day extra special by sending your friend or loved one a collection of delectable sweet treats. 

There are so many to choose from it’s hard to know where to start – from the beautiful hand-iced biscuits of Biscuiteers to the mouthwatering brownies of Bad Brownie, it’s hard to go wrong.

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And if you want to go the extra mile, why not send them a DIY kit so they can decorate their treats before they eat them? We think this Caramel Choc DIY Donut Decorating Kit from Doughnut Time (£22) would make the perfect lockdown activity.

Finally, for something a little bit special, why not treat the birthday boy or girl to an afternoon tea at home? Cutter & Squidge’s adorable Afternoon Tea At Home Kits (£29.90) have everything they need to host their very own tea party.

11. Send them a cake

Victoria Sponge from Cutter and Squidge
Lockdown birthday ideas: send them an extra-special cake.

Last but by no means least, it’s time to buy them a cake. After all, it’s not a birthday celebration without an extra-tasty centre piece, is it?

There are so many options to choose from online, so it’s honestly down to personal preference – this absolutely beautiful Victoria Strawberry Sponge from Cutter & Squidge (£24.90) is a pretty safe choice though. 

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Images: Unsplash/Getty/All Paper Everythings on Etsy/Cutter & Squidge


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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.

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