Our Tween’s Parade-ish Quarantine Birthday Party

In my last post, I shared some ideas for celebrating a birthday in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. But after putting all of those awesome ideas together for my readers, I actually had to plan my own kid’s ninth birthday celebration.

In this post, I’ll share pics of how everything turned out!

Lucy’s birthday fell on Easter this year, and I wanted to do something special for her and still put together Easter baskets for the boys. There are two types of tweens: those who reject anything that could in any way be perceived as for younger kids like trick-or-treating or Easter baskets and those who just straight up don’t care if it’s “for babies” because they want the loot, all the loot, give them ALL the loot. 

My kids fall in the latter category. As a couple of my friends lamented that their kids of the same age were now “big kids” who fancy themselves too grown for Easter treats and candy, my practically teenage kids were reminding me of their candy preferences. We bought their gifts from Walmart grocery pickup, and the baskets are actually passed down from my brother and me when we were kids. 

We loaded baskets with various Peeps ranging from cute (cotton candy and cake) to borderline criminal (fruit punch and sour watermelon), threw in some chocolate bunnies as Easter law demands, and added in a gift for each kid (plush llamas for Arthur and Lucy, a pack of Matchbox cars for Noah). 

Although Lucy’s birthday party was a few hours away, we’re pretty soft about early birthday presents, so Lucy opened her gifts right after breakfast. 

The week before her birthday, friends and family sent gifts to us by mail in addition to the gifts we ordered, so she had a pretty good haul of Hawaiian candy, mangas, lovingly written cards, and art books—Lucy loves to draw. We also gave her a large shelf dollhouse for her miniature toys to reside in which we picked up at the Just Between Friends sale this year for only $35. 

In anticipation of our friends driving by, I decorated the lawn for Lucy’s birthday, adding in a lawn sign that read “Happy Birthday” which was almost immediately destroyed by rain. I placed a chair on the porch for Lucy to watch everyone drive by, but the temperature dropped and it soon became too cold and rainy to sit on the porch. 

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We finally decided to open up the garage, where at least we could all sit back in the semi-warm together even if it meant everyone who drove by would see lawnmowers and my busted piano. We broke out the favorite quarantween party hits playlist: Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, the Weeknd.

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Our first party guest was Brady of Balloon-ertainment, who brought his balloon art performance. The rain picked up, so we invited him up to stand under the garage but remain six feet away while he made Lucy a special balloon crown and a balloonicorn. 

Next, J Event and Design stopped by to install a lovely balloon garland which held up surprisingly well in the high winds that lasted most of the afternoon. 

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Soon, Lucy’s Poppy and Mimo came by with Easter baskets filled with treats and an added bonus: fabric masks. They also brought gifts for Lucy including the loveliest Lucile the Kitty Cat-themed cookies from Try This Cookie and DIY cookies to decorate. As they waved through the car window, I realized sadly that it had been nearly two months since Lucy had a chance to hug any of her grandparents.

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I realized in the excitement, I’d run out of time to make her birthday cake, but my ever-practical husband quickly threw together a brownie mix and turned it into a magical birthday “cake” complete with sprinkles and candles. 

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Pretty soon, her Grandpa Mike, Grandma Nancy, and cousin Zach showed up bearing gifts for Arthur and Lucy since Arthur’s birthday was three weeks ago. They even brought something for me: thousands of old photos and many hours of 8 mm film from my childhood.

From Parade to Parade-ish Party

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But when it came time for Lucy’s birthday parade, the rain was coming down pretty hard and the wind was icy and strong, which meant the actual birthday parade part was a washout. I knew Lucy was having an amazing day, but I felt bad about asking her to sit and wait in a cold garage for a birthday parade that never came. 

Because I have no shame, I took to social media and quite literally begged everyone to stop by and honk, and because the Internet is magic, everyone obliged. 

As the night went on, we had quite a few fabric-masked visitors bearing porch drop-off gifts and treats from time to time including arguably the kids’ favorite gift, a giant white poster board reading “Happy Birthday Lucy” from our friend Fallon, who told them, “I would have colored this more, but I know how much you guys love to draw.” 

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At one point, Lucy started crying…really sad, broken-hearted alligator tears. She told her dad, “I feel like I’m spoiled. Like this is too much!” 

We’ve always tried to give our kids special birthdays, but they’ve also tended to be pretty low-key because for so long we were barely getting by. This year, having rallied all of our family and friends, the gifts and excitement just kept coming, and this poor gal felt like maybe she didn’t deserve it. 

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We convinced her that every kid should have this kind of love on their birthday, but it’s not always possible, and that we were just really fortunate to have lots of amazing friends and family to help us make the most of this weird time while we’re in quarantine this year. The important thing, we told her, was to be grateful for what she had and to give to others when possible. 

It was powerful and moving to see how humbled she was by everyone’s generosity at such a young age. 

She told me, “This is the best birthday I’ve ever had!”

Even though the parade wasn’t exactly very paradelike, what made this birthday special is that everyone we know helped make sure Lucy felt loved and valued. 

If you’re planning something special for your kids whether they’re turning three or 33, the thing to remember is that just like everything else during the quarantine, the magic will be in where and how we come together. 

Planning Your Quarantine Party

Here’s my retrospective quarantine celebration advice.

Do:

  • Ask friends and loved ones to send gifts and cards in the mail.
  • Ask folks to call and message all day long. 
  • Use local businesses with no-contact service to make it extra special. 
  • Use social media to get the word out.
  • Be flexible in case the parade doesn’t work out.
  • Use online businesses with delivery, local pickup, and curbside service to buy gifts.

Don’t:

  • Stress over the details, even if that means you have no cake and nobody shows for your birthday parade. 
  • Feel like you have to spend a ton of money to make it special. 

A huge thanks to everyone who helped make Lucy’s birthday a magical day and a bright spot in this difficult time. One thing that has really sat with me through Lucy’s birthday and throughout the COVID crisis is how much the best of human nature has really shined. 

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In a time when we’re all scared and missing out on the things we wish we were doing, in a time when the future is uncertain, folks are having front porch dance parties, taking each other groceries, checking on their neighbors, making incredible random acts of art, kindness, and humanity. 

With the help of everyone in our community, we were able to turn a birthday stuck at home into a birthday Lucy may remember as her best one ever. Thanks to everyone who helped make that possible. 

Do you have a special birthday or celebration coming up? How about a high school senior or other special graduate in your life? Drop me a few lines and share how you’re planning to celebrate and check out our party ideas here. Thanks for reading, take care, and I hope you have a beautiful week in your nebula. 


Cn Birthday Pin

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