Ain’t No Party Like a Lockdown Party

How to throw the perfect 16th birthday party

2020 will be remembered for many things, although partying might not be one of them.  But that doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t still celebrate, especially family birthdays.  I am a huge advocate for pushing the boat out for life’s milestones; our children have already missed out on so much this year, so it’s even more important to make sure their lockdown birthdays are special.

Whilst I am writing this, the current lockdown guidelines state that you can meet up with up to six people, that are not in your family, as long as you gather outside and keep 2 metres apart – obviously these rules are subject to change at any time.

If you are able to celebrate outside it will take a little planning but is sure to be a great success.

You will need some outdoor furniture, otherwise there are companies that hire out things like outdoor beanbags or other funky seating.  Alternatively, a picnic party would just need a selection of rugs and blankets placed around the garden.  Clearly everything will need to be thoroughly sanitised before arrival of your guests, and you will need a dispenser of hand sanitiser available.  But what about the actual party?

Mocktails are always a hit with younger teens, you could work with the birthday girl or boy to invent their own Quarantini Mocktails.  Gather a selection of suitable ingredients such as lemonade, fruit juices, grenadine, ginger beer and coconut milk and get mixing.  Give them names such as the Covid Cooler, Facemask Fizz or Lockdown Lemonade.  Set up a cocktail bar in a corner of the garden and designate a family member to take socially distanced drinks orders and deliver to the guests.

The Government suggests people bring their own cutlery and crockery to a gathering, but disposable tableware would work too, just prepack in a little bag.  A barbecue is an excellent option for outdoor party food, or prepacked individual disposable lunch boxes would be great.  Lots of local cafes have reinvented themselves as takeaways or offering delivery services so if you want to keep your work to a minimum, this might be worth investigating.  Do not place food on large sharing platters or encourage people to gather around large food tables.

No party is complete without a birthday cake – obviously blowing out candles is a thing of the past, but cupcakes are a simple and safe way to mark the occasion and easily passed round.  Visit Pinterest for tutorials and ideas for recipes and decorating or check out local cake makers for something extra special.

But what about entertainment?

Karaoke? – what teenager doesn’t love the opportunity to belt out their favourite tunes.  Don’t worry if you don’t have the equipment, You Tube has lots of Karaoke versions, for example Sing King.  Don’t you get too excited as I doubt you will get your moment in the spotlight!

A fun quiz could also be a hit, there are lots online to download, or put together your own set of questions around hobbies and interests of the guests.

There are lots of other games that teenagers enjoy that can be played at a safe distance; charades, bingo, Pictionary, have a chat with your teen and see what they like.

You might also like to think about a dress code, maybe everyone would appreciate an excuse to dress up – especially if they are like my kids and have been living in sweatpants and t-shirts for several weeks, or if you are holding an event later in the day PJs would be ideal.

Outdoor cinemas have become popular over recent years and would be absolutely perfect for a lockdown party.  Depending on what you already own, take a look online and find local businesses that hire projectors and screens (although a white sheet or plain wall might work just as well).  The party will need to be later in the evening to be dark enough to see the film although better quality projectors will help if it isn’t really dark.

And of course, you will need to make your venue look special.  Fortunately, many shops are now open so getting hold of supplies shouldn’t be a problem.  If you really want to take the lockdown theme seriously there are all kinds of yellow and black themed ‘Caution’ decorations to be found online.

And do not forget to take photographs, 2020 will be a year to remember for many reasons and your teen will definitely want to look back on how they survived it.   Designate a family member to be in charge of photography as this is easily forgotten and get a good mixture of posed and candid shots.

An outdoor gathering is fine if your teen only wants to meet up with six friends and you have access to a reasonably sized garden (and, of course, if the weather is being kind), but if this is not the case you will need to be a little more creative.

I haven’t met a person who is not eternally grateful for video conferencing apps such as Zoom and Google Hangout, these are essential for throwing a virtual birthday party.  Assuming everyone has access to a computer, you can involve many more guests this way.

Karaoke, a quiz and all the games already mentioned could also be done remotely, with a little planning, and be just as much fun.

You could also consider a virtual craft party.  You would need to deliver the materials to each guest before the party.  The craft could be something you put together yourself and demonstrated online or via a package from a company that offers the whole bundle – lots who normally run actual classes have appeared in the virtual world since lockdown.

A fun treasure hunt could be great too – you could put together packs of clues to be hidden around everyone’s house and enlist the help of parents prior to the party.  The guests could be in constant touch via their phones whilst running around their own homes seeking out clues and surprises.

Although you would not be feeding them, you could deliver a birthday cupcake and candle in advance so that everyone can light a candle and wish the birthday teen a happy birthday at the end.

The dress code could be smart, but alternatively it could also be PJs.

However you choose to celebrate your teen’s birthday, I hope you all have the most fabulous and memorable time and these ideas go some way to helping you achieve that.

Kathy Newport

Mother of three teens

Blogger –

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