Presenting your Virtual Birthday Party Guide: Happy Socially Distant Birthday to You! Please share your favorite special birthday-at-home ideas in the comments.
This year, you may need to celebrate a family birthday without leaving home. Celebrating a birthday when you’re social distancing doesn't have to be boring. In fact, I bet this year's birthday will be memorable no matter what.
If favorite foods, cake, and presents aren't quite extra enough for your kiddo, we have some ideas for stuck-at-home celebrations with a local (510) flair.
The Best East Bay Birthday Treats at Home
I'm no baker, so I'm thrilled to share that some of my favorite bakers and cake makers are still working and able to deliver to my doorstep or car window. You may want to check on your favorite directly, if they're not listed.
Avocado & Company, Oakland — whether you choose a witty Quarantine message or a simple “Happy Birthday”, the cakes are pretty and yummy with local delivery. My family and I loved the lemon flavor. Order from Avocado & Co. >
Batch Pastries, Montclair Oakland — offering a quarantine care package of delicious pastries, cookies, dessert, and quick bread mini loaf for East Bay delivery. Order from Batch Pastries >
Cupcakin' Bake Shop, Oakland & Berkeley — baking an assortment of mini and standard cupcakes in glorious flavors with pickup or delivery available on Fridays. Order from Cupcakin' >
Fentons Creamery, Oakland — ice cream cakes via walk-up (with 6ft apart) and call-in take-out, curbside, and home delivery. Visit Fentons website for options >
James and the Giant Cupcake, N. Oakland — offering a full menu of creative cupcake flavors, decorating cupcake kits, and free delivery during this crisis. Flavors change each month. Order from James and the Giant Cupcake >
Love at First Bite Cupcakery, N. Berkeley — offering free and low-cost delivery of 6 or more standard Cupcakes, 12 or more mini Cupcakes, or any Cake. Yum. Order from Love at First Bite >
Masse's Pastries, N. Berkeley — Pre-order an 8″ cake for curbside pickup. I promise it will be beautiful. Call Masse's to place your order.
Miette, Jack London Square, Oakland — offering curbside pick-up and mailing of cakes, cookies, macarons, and other confections with a cupcake sale on Fridays. Order from Miette >
Sugarsweet, Oakland — with gorgeous and delicious cakes, cupcakes, and cookies, you can't go wrong with a custom or standard order. Order from Sugarsweet >
Milk Bar (not local but highly recommended by local friends) — With national shipping available, I have a Milk Bar pie on the way to someone I love for their special day in another state. They also ship cakes, cookies, and truffles. Order from Milk Bar >
Check on any other treat maker's delivery policies from the East Bay Kids Birthday Party Guide.
Party Fun at Home
For my family, the best part of a birthday is being in charge of the food and the fun all day long. This is still possible at home, where my husband can make a good approximation of our kid's favorite meal. Our children want our focused attention and to be remembered by family and friends. We can totally do that!
How to make it special for the birthday kid:
- Decorate with paper banners and signs.
- Blow up balloons if you have them. Safeway still sells helium balloons, we think.
- Draw love messages in sidewalk chalk.
- Stick a candle in breakfast, lunch, dinner, and treats! You will win the day by putting this unicorn cake topper in my pancakes or turkey sandwich.
- Hide gifts around the house, orchestrate a hunt for them with clues or warmer/colder. You might need to order some gifts if you haven't planned ahead.
- Make a party hat >
- For a super special balloon bouquet, Pippa & Co. designs amazing, next-level helium balloon arrangements for special occasions and will delivery locally. See Pippa & Co. for a quote >
Silly stuff to do at home:
- Kid gets to choose favorite family fun activities: gardening, games, reading, or watching movies. Many introverts I know would like this instead of a party.
- Get inspired by these Minute to Win it challenges and see what games you can create at home.
- Get dressed up. Wear costumes, themed outfits, or pajamas to suit your birthday kid's preferences.
- Family Dance Party. Stream your favorite songs and dance until your child is embarrassed or you are exhausted.
- Tea Party. Berkeley's Nest of Comforts will deliver a children’s tea service box, complete with tea, a doily, crayons, a tea coloring page, a few berries with cream, and square pb&js for $15.
- Cupcake wars or whatever-you-have-on-hand baking or decorating challenge. (Note that James and the Giant Cupcake delivers kits for this very purpose or you may discover a couple years worth of sprinkles in the back of the pantry)
Neighbors & friends get in on the act:
- The birthday parade is a super sweet idea if you live on an appropriate street. Invite friends & family to slowly drive by at a certain time with signs, singing, and honking! Kids love it.
- Remind your family and friends to send cards and handmade drawings through the mail, old school.
- Video Messages. No time for old school? Grandparents, friends, random internet strangers can record special birthday greetings to remind your child they are loved. VidHug.com makes it easy to create a combined birthday video from many people's shorter messages. The birthday kids LOVE it!
- Virtual visit. Schedule a family or friend celebration via Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts. These meetups are extra fabulous because family from around the country (and world!) can join in. To make this check-in more of a PARTY, see below for entertainment!
Virtual Birthday Entertainment for toddlers to teens
Puppet Shows, Magic, and Silliness Just for You
Ricky Roo & Friends will put on a custom puppet show for your birthday child All children will see each other on the screen and enjoy the puppet show and will laugh and giggle via private link. Schedule Ricky Roo for your remote party >
Brian Scott Productions figured out how to do an entertaining magic set online without revealing his tricks! Check out Brian Scott for your next virtual party >
Silly Circus Show Bri Crabtree is creating an interactive online program to bring non-stop giggles to your house! Visit her website for more info.
Wynazz Pizzazz & Co. is creating joyful virtual parties in the age of living indoors. Parties can be magic, puppets, characters, scavenger hunt, or some combination. See Wynazz Pizzazz Virtual Party Packages >
Sweet Farm Animal Ambassadors are rescue animals — and there are many choices from pig, cow, llama, goat, and more! — that can visit you on your virtual party. Invite a farm animal to party with you via their popular “goat 2 meeting” offer.
BubbleDad does an entertaining bubble show for your little one's birthday for $100. He'll tell you some props and simple household items to have on hand to make the magic happen at your house, too. Schedule BubbleDad via Mommy Poppins >
Virtual Princess Birthday Celebration
Drea Lusion is now the Dream Top. Working with parents to shelter-in-place and have the most fun, Drea offers a real-life scavenger hunt that reaches through the screen in addition to character fun. Parties include interactive performances, movement games, scavenger hunt, storytime about why “heroes stay home”, and Q&A with the character. See theDreamTop for virtual birthday parties >
The Cinderella Company can give you a personalized princess video message or character video chat with magic and singing. Visit Cinderella Company for details >
Magic Princess is making video calls to birthday children as Elsa, Moana, or 73 others. Check prices and book Magic Princess >
My Once Upon a Time offers 30 minute character video chats just for you with movie or book characters and lots more. See My Once Upon a Time for prices >
LEGO Play Date Party
Alameda based, Bricks 4 Kidz, offers a virtual LEGO party for up to 5 friends including creations, sharing, and challenges. BYO LEGO bricks. Check out Bricks 4 Kidz virtual parties >
Snapology offers a virtual LEGO play date for 3-7 kids. What a fun idea for a remote birthday party. Find out more about Snapology virtual birthday parties >
Special Birthday Concert for You & Your Buddies
Rockin Kids Sing-Along now offers Rockin' Birthdays on Zoom. Want to celebrate your child's birthday during Shelter In Place? Invite your friends for a virtual sing-along with Stephanie. Schedule Rockin Kids Sing-Along for your remote party >
Netflix Party, Magic the Gathering, Escape Rooms & More Remote Challenges
Netflix Party is a fun way to watch a movie with your friends for ages middle school to adult. The browser plugin allows a simultaneous broadcast of any Netflix movie or show along with a chat room so all the party guests can comment on the film together. My middle schooler watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off this way, and it was well received. It does not always work. All guests will need to install the browser plugin for Netflix Party before the event, the host sends out a link to join the event. Set up a Netflix Party test run >
Untap allows any number of players to join your kid's virtual Magic the Gathering game, all for free. My son says that any number of guests will work but 3-5 players is best. Kids will need their own accounts and will want to build their own virtual MtG decks beforehand. What's particularly great: you can take decklists from other places on the internet (Tappedout.net, etc.) and copy/paste to get started. The host adds the games to the list of ‘available games' and the invited guests join in at the designated time. Set up a birthday game on untap.in >
Hogwarts Digital Escape Room. This free Harry Potter themed virtual escape room was created by Sydney Krawiec, Youth Services Librarian at Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, PA. You can complete this escape room as a group or as individual as many times as you like. To do it as a remote party, you'll want to screen share from a Zoom room or Google Hangout. Try Hogwarts Digital Escape Room >
Jackbox.tv virtual party games. For ages 8+ the Jackbox.tv suite of phone-based games is lots of fun with a family at home or spread out using more screens for remote sharing. Play The host shares the Jackbox main game screen and everyone joins in with their smartphone or tablet via Jackbox.tv. Follow the instructions on the screen and you are all connected to play fun games like Drawful, Fibbage, Quiplash, Trivia Murder Party and more. Learn more about Jackbox Games here >
Check on any other entertainer's virtual offerings from the East Bay Kids Birthday Party Guide.
We got this. We can stay home together.
Having “celebrated” my birthday during the first few days of Shelter in Place, I experienced some wonderful bits mixed in with the boo-hoo feeling of wanting a party with friends. Mostly it was nice:
- I had longer than usual face-to-Facetime conversations with my brothers who live far away.
- I got to control the remote control all day.
- My husband made my favorite dinner.
- We had paper decorations and cake.