With shelter-in-place orders affecting families across the country, parents are realizing that the party must go on—even if it looks a little different this year. Pulling off a virtual kids’ birthday party might not be as easy as your Zoom happy hour with friends, but is anything really ever effortless with toddlers? It takes some extra planning, but with realistic expectations and an upbeat attitude, you can bring extra joy to their big day (and shake up your own quarantine routine while you’re at it). There’s no need to cancel this year’s birthday party with these creative ways to celebrate your child, both virtually and from a safe distance.
Long distance birthday ideas for kids—no Zoom required!
Apps like Zoom, Skype, and Houseparty have made it easy—and exciting—to connect while we’re collectively social distancing. Some of our ideas involve Zoom (see below!), but there are plenty of other ways to get the birthday party started, no wifi required. All you need is a little help from your family, friends, or neighbors.
Drive-by birthday party parade
Organize a drive-by or drive-in birthday party for your little one. Have the birthday boy or girl stand in your front lawn or in front of your building, and have their friends come by waving, cheering, or singing “Happy Birthday.” Encourage guests to decorate their cars as an activity with kids, hold signs out of the window, or honk as they approach the house as a way for your child to feel celebrated and see all their friends.
“Presents Parade” by Little Cube, “Martini” Flyer by Paperless Post.
Drive-by birthday mural party
For older kids, another birthday party idea that doesn’t require Zoom, but keeps everyone socially distancing, is a drive-by mural! Put up a big piece of butcher paper in front of the house and ask your child’s friends, family, and neighbors to come by and write or paint a “Happy Birthday” message on it. For a younger birthday girl or boy, they could watch from the window. For older kids (whose friends’ bedtimes are later) it can be there waiting in the morning of their birthday when they wake up! To make sure you’re following social distancing guidelines, send an invite with time slots and leave the art supplies out ready to go. You can also pull off this same party idea with chalk in the driveway.
Treasure hunt by mail
Ask your family and friends to mail your child physical birthday cards or little notes to arrive around their birthday. If you want to be even more elaborate, you can create a treasure hunt through the mail. Here’s how: Each card includes a piece of a message that they collect on a fun birthday page you create to reveal a message or a surprise gift. If guests don’t have cards and stamps in their house, you can encourage them to send online cards through Paperless Post directly to you (if your child doesn’t have email). Family members can also send their gifts ahead of time, and the birthday boy or girl can FaceTime each person to open their gift.
“Stamped Birthday” by Sugar Paper.
A seek-and-find throughout the neighborhood
For older kids, coordinate with neighbors to leave something small outside in their yard, or put a picture in their window for your kid to find. Make a list of what pictures or items they need to find, and they can check them off as they walk around. For younger children, make the scavenger hunt more like the childhood song, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” and ask neighbors to put up pictures of bears in their window for your little one to find. Some neighborhoods are even putting together Google maps of which houses or buildings have stuffed bears or rainbows in windows for kids’ to find. Check your neighborhood parent’s group to see if this exists already in your area.
A dance party with your neighbors
Some clever hosts are throwing cul-de-sac dance parties with their neighbors to celebrate their little one. You can use a “space” themed invite to emphasize keeping a safe distance while dancing. Or set the tone with a dance party design. You can find a ton of premade and family-friendly party playlists on Spotify. Or dance along to your child’s favorite artist.
“Adventure” Flyer by Paperless Post.
Zoom ideas for kids’ birthday parties
The internet has made it easy to pull off more and more online birthday celebration ideas. If you live away from friends and family, and you and your birthday party guests feel comfortable using FaceTime, Google Hangouts or Zoom, a virtual kids’ party may be a nice way to celebrate your little one.
Pro tip: Inviting too many kiddos to a video chat may be overstimulating for a younger child. To avoid everyone talking over each other, you can set up the call so everyone can enter the meeting muted. Then ask family members to speak one-by-one and unmute them when it is their turn. And of course you can unmute everyone when it’s time to sing Happy Birthday.
If video is overwhelming to your birthday child or to little party guests, encourage them to turn off their video (or place a post-it note in front of their camera). This will help them get used to seeing others on Zoom until they feel ready to see themselves on the screen.
A virtual birthday party with an easy theme
Set a theme
Suggest a visual theme for virtual kids birthdays. Something silly like crazy hats, superheroes, or kids dressed as parents and parents dressed as kids. Or keep it simple and ask participants to set their backdrops to fit a specific theme. (Zoom recommends a minimum resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels.) Want to match your Zoom background to your Paperless Post invite? Our Personal Design Services team can help you prep one to match! Contact us.
Crown the prince or princess
We love this idea from illustrator and party expert, Darcy Miller. Download her birthday crown template, print it out and pop it in the mail so the birthday royal can wear it when you video chat on the big day—or if the honoree is in your house, crown them directly! The best part is that it’s totally customizable. You can trace the template onto newspaper, wrapping paper, or a tie-dye pattern. Decorate it yourself with drawings or messages or let the birthday kid color or bedazzle it themselves. You can even mail one to all your guests to host a princess party for your little one.
Bake a treat, remotely
Send everyone an easy recipe for cupcakes for your little one’s virtual birthday party. Or invite friends and family to bring their cupcake and candle for a sing-along You can also download a celebration topper template from Darcy Miller’s website for the birthday girl or boy, or send it out to all guests too, so every screen is festive.
Provide an activity in advance
Add a link in your invite with downloadable color sheets (like these rainbow coloring pages) so all the kids can color together. Check to see if your local music or dance teacher (or even magician!) would be willing to host a virtual class to keep kids’ engaged. Or popular kids’ birthday party places like Camp, Kidville, and Sky Zone are moving online and can provide some structure and maybe even a few minutes of parenting relief.
A virtual tea party with furry friends
One of the cutest virtual birthday party ideas for kids is a tea party. Invite little guests or classmates to set up their tea in front of the screen. With stuffed animals as their guests, of course. You can include a note about the “theme” in the invite and a link to a Zoom background for their very special tea party!
A virtual playdate over Zoom
This kids birthday party idea is perfect for kids to celebrate with the BFF they’ve missed the most. Find a game that they both enjoy playing, and make it work virtually! From checkers to Roblox, there are endless two-player games out there you can play over Zoom. Want to invite more than one friend to the virtual birthday party? BINGO is great for a group, or trivia where all the questions are about the birthday girl or boy.
“Remote Controllers” by Hello!Lucky, “Game On” by Paperless Post.
A simple virtual 1st birthday
FaceTime the grandparents for cake and gifts! If a group party doesn’t feel right for your child, or if grandparents don’t feel comfortable with a group call, use FaceTime, Google Duo, or WhatsApp to sing “Happy Birthday” and virtually open any presents. You can also screen record the FaceTime call to save it as a home movie! Two birds, one virtual party.
Ready to kick off your own virtual birthday celebration? Browse our selection of kids’ birthday invitations. For more guidance on where to start with hosting a virtual party, check our or guide to how to host an online party.