As the COVID-19 situation drags on over the coming weeks, more of us will be celebrating our birthdays at home, surrounded by only those people we live with. Sure, we could just lie around in sweatpants eating ice cream and getting all maudlin and tipsy (maybe we’re already doing that), but the trick is in your attitude: with a little creativity, you can still mark your birthday with an appropriate level of craic.
Bake a cake
As Julia Child famously said, a party without cake is just a meeting. Luckily, we all have more time for baking than ever before! Make it pretty. Make it tasty. Make it the day beforehand and try to avoid eating it until the party.
Your decorations can be homemade. They don’t even have to be good. Light a few candles, or stick some photos of the birthday girl or boy on the walls. Dig through your junk drawer in the hopes of finding a few balloons. If you’re really desperate, drag some tinsel down from the attic.
Get dressed up
You’ll add extra craic if you pick a theme and dress up accordingly. Your theme could be anything, so work with what you have: 80s disco, 90s grunge, famous movie characters, chancing your arm to see if you fit into your old debs dress. If your theme is leggings and a pasta-stained T-shirt, we won’t judge you for that. You do you.
Open the bar
This is your chance to make it feel like a party. Set up a make-your-own cocktail bar, make a few pitchers of sangria (use frozen fruit if that’s what you have!) or margaritas, or even just fill the sink with ice and add bottles or beer and/or wine! Mocktails will keep things feeling special for non-drinkers. Be sure to add a creative touch to your drink — lime wedge, celery stalk, salt rim, maybe that cucumber that’s been languishing in the vegetable drawer — because anything feels fancy with a garnish.
Make some party food
Whether it’s your favourite chicken wings, homemade pizza or simply chips and dip, food maketh the party. This is no time for lentil salads — lentils are great, but they ain’t celebration fare — but you can still make some very decent party food from storecupboard staples.
Make it a dinner party
Is it a party without cheese? I’m unsure, but I do know that any party is infinitely BETTER with cheese. Whether you’ve got a full spread or just one lonely block, invite cheese to your birthday. Create a cheeseboard, bake a Camembert, make a cheesy dip for your nachos or, if all else fails, just make a load of cheese toasties.
Make it a picnic
Even if you have a garden, it’s not really warm enough to sit out yet anyway. An indoor picnic, however, is both weather- and physical distancing-appropriate. Spread out a blankie and add your favourite picnic foods, preferably those that take a little time to pull together, because indoor hobbies are limited. Think summery tarts, hearty sandwiches, elegant salads and savoury pastries. The best part? The food doesn’t even have to be easily portable, because you’re only going as far as the sitting room.
Invite some mates
Don’t feel limited to the people you live with – chances are you’re tired of their faces at this stage anyway! Make the most of technology and invite some of your mates to join the party via Zoom, Whatsapp, Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts or any of the other options out there. Bonus points if they’re jealous of the food you’re eating.
Dancing is free and doesn’t require you to leave the house. Get a solid playlist blaring and shake yo’ booty. (This is also a good way to work off some of that cheese and cake.) Happy birthday — we hope you enjoy every moment.