Well, this certainly isn’t the type of article I thought I’d ever be writing, but I rose to the challenge! Since we are all self-isolating and keeping our families safe, the options for birthday party locations have whittled down to one option: your home. So, what do you do for your tween that is already hard to please in the best of circumstances? Start with a theme (you know I love a good theme to up the enjoyment factor!).
Too soon? Hey, we might as well have some humor about what is going on in the world, as humor is the only way to get through these uncertain times. Utilizing items you already have at home, like puzzles, locks from unused school lockers, games and game pieces, create activities and clues for your tween to work through to access ‘the key’ to getting out of their bedroom. You can use a physical key, a code word, or anything, really! For a simple option, order your child’s birthday present in advance and on their birthday, have them follow the clues and puzzles to find their present that is locked away somewhere in your home.
For this birthday party theme, your tween must complete challenges in order to build an epic birthday dinner with their favorite food items. The TV show Survivor always has a gross food challenge. Choose three food items you know your child does not like to eat, perhaps it’s Brussel sprouts, liver, and turnip. If they complete the challenge by eating all three, then they can choose their favorite main, like burgers or pizza you can make at home or order in for their birthday dinner. Hold additional challenges for them to complete like an obstacle course and a balance challenge in order for them to win other parts of their birthday meal like fries, pop, cake, ice cream, etc.
This theme is a natural fit! Of course, the sky’s the limit when it comes to whipping up facials made up of ingredients from your fridge and pantry, but at this time, given we are instructed not to touch our faces, leave the pampering with facial masks for another day. Keep it simple. Have everyone in the family wear their comfy robe and slippers and pamper your guest of honor. Sanitize your hands first and then enjoy hand and foot scrubs followed by manicures and pedicures (dad will look smashing sporting a hot pink manicure!). Continue your tween’s pampering with a steam bath; adding citrus peels to the steam bath will rejuvenate the senses. Not only is a spa day at home a great way to celebrate a tween’s birthday, it is also amazing for self-care and vitality.
Your birthday tween can pick their favorite movie and base the day’s activities around it. Of course, watching your tween’s favorite movie while enjoying popcorn and other favorite family snacks is a must, but the most important part of this theme is to create a commemorative video to mark this special day. You can do it in the chosen movie theme, do a lip sync to the title track, or act out your favorite scene. Be sure to tag it ‘In Honor of _____’s Birthday’ on social media so that when this is all over your family can look back at this moment and (hopefully) say well, that was an interesting time and a fun way to celebrate! Turning a negative into a positive is a valuable life lesson and one that will serve your family well now and in the future.
With isolation, the obvious choice is going virtual. If your tween wants to spend some time with their friends online for their birthday, there is a variety of platforms to choose from: Whatsapp, Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GotoMeetings, GSuite, WebEx, LifeStorm, HighFive, Twitch, and Facetime. (There are likely a few more to pop up during this unique time in history, so it’s up to you which one works best for everyone involved.) There are always video gaming sites (Call of Duty®: Warzone, anyone?) where the kids can play together or why not dance the day away? Try Ubisoft’s Just Dance where kids can dance to the same song along with other players from around the world at the same time. There is no communication, but you can see the top dancers’ scores update in real-time, creating a genuine sense of competition. Game on!
Craving more personal interaction at the virtual party? Kids can play some old-school games like Pictionary, charades, or password. Text or email the words or phrases in advance of the party to your child’s friends and then they can choose which ones they would like to draw, act out, or describe.
If it seems like a nightmare to get a bunch of tweens online together, send out a request to all your child’s friends and ask them to create TikTok videos in honor of your child’s birthday. (I am sure receiving fun videos will brighten everyone’s day.)
What matters most is choosing a birthday theme and activities that have personal meaning for your child and will lift their spirits. Letting a birthday pass with no recognition, especially during this trying time of isolation, would be unfortunate. Use it as an excuse to celebrate life, because we all must do that. We must celebrate life!
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