The Ultimate Tulsa No-Contact Birthday Party Guide

It would be pointless to sugarcoat it: Things are starting to get pretty rough right about now pretty much across the board. The engines of the world have slowly ground to a near-halt, and with them, my motivation for changing out of the pants I slept in. The news is scary, procuring most of my groceries now requires a scientific calculator and a college degree, and my three tweenage children are clinging to me like barnacles when they’re not hoovering up the now-limited contents of our cupboard. 

Yes, friends, the Rona roller coaster has taken off, and we’re all on this ride until we pull back into the docking platform. All we can do is hang on, white-knuckled, knowing eventually it will end and soon we’ll be standing in line waiting for overpriced souvenirs almost like it never happened while we casually try to pretend we weren’t losing our Dippin’ Dots moments before.

But it will end one day, and eventually, this will be a story we regale the younger generations with as we tell of its heroes: the healthcare industry professionals who heroically risked their lives to save others, the essential services workers who heroically risked their lives so we could have food and functional toilets, and even those of us who heroically did nothing so we wouldn’t make things worse than they already were. 

A lifetime of couch potatoing has prepared me for this moment, and I’ve never been more ready.

In between all of scrambling to work out homeschooling and missing out on spring break camps and summer sports, there’s one group of kids that’s getting a bigger serving of disappointment than most: the kids whose birthday and graduation celebrations are getting deferred thanks to COVID-19. 

Three of our family’s birthdays take place from late March to mid-April. With three birthdays so close, we don’t tend to host huge blowouts, but we do like to make those days as special as possible. Two months ago, we were planning to take Arthur to Frontier City for his spring break birthday. We were going to stay in a kitschy artists’ AirBNB that looks a bit like a wacky grandma house, which Arthur would have flipped over. 

But the week before spring break, with two of our family members asthma sufferers, we found ourselves making the sad decision to stay home, investing in three computers in case our kids didn’t end up going back to school after the break. We promised to make it up with a trip after everything ends. 

Now we’ve got Lucy’s 9th birthday coming up in two weeks. This is the first year Lucy has had a gaggle of girlfriends to invite over, and between reenacting TikTok videos and pretending to be a VSCO girl, she’s been talking about having a birthday party for months. But with COVID-19 looming larger than ever and social distancing still firmly in place, the realization that she is going to miss out on one of her last birthdays as a young kid is a bit heartbreaking. 

But not hosting a birthday party or getting together with friends is only the half of it. Since our kids have quirky, geeky interests, we usually end up combing local stores for their gifts. That wasn’t an option this year. With Amazon orders out until mid-April, finding a cool gift was a bit of a puzzler.

The Safer at Home Order and Birthdays

Inspired by a news item he heard, the kids’ dad excitedly recommended we throw a no-contact birthday parade: “We get chairs, hang out in front of the house, and people drive by and wish her a happy birthday and leave a gift if they want to.”

I turned to the Facebook group Stand Up to COVID 19: Support Local Tulsa Businesses to crowdsource birthday ideas. There, I found loads of great resources for contact-free home delivery services from local businesses on everything from cake to decor, but before I could place any orders, our local lockdown restrictions were tightened under the Safer at Home order, which states that absolutely no non-essential businesses can be used. 

The Safer at Home order allows Oklahomans to leave their homes to get fresh air and lend care and support to friends or family members as long as they maintain a six-foot distance, which means a drive-by party is presumably allowed. It just means your kid will have to enjoy it from the porch while the rest of the family is inside the house.

I didn’t want to give any of my readers bad info or recommend anyone violate the Safer at Home mandate, but I also didn’t want to miss out on a chance to make birthdays better for kids while promoting local businesses if I could help it.

Certainly, this blog isn’t the best place to suggest that our state and local leaders should consider amending the Safer at Home guidelines to allow non-essential businesses to remain open if they offer curbside service and maintain social distancing as New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Maryland have done or to argue that Oklahomans are still acquiring nonessential items from retailers that are allowed to stay open under the Safer at Home order and the unfortunate and unforeseeable by-product of the Safer at Home order has in essence shifted the state’s economy in favor of big box stores offering essential services and away from small businesses already suffering from reduced income. 

But because I haven’t the mettle or even the pants for politics, I decided just to call and get clarification on exactly what is allowed. I spoke with Shelley Zumwalt, Chief Communications and Strategic Engagement Officer with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. 

She clarified that the governor’s orders outline many types of employment, but they are by no means comprehensive. She also noted that the main concern is for Oklahomans to understand their risk and minimize it as much as possible and directed me to something that came up in the governor’s recent press conference

When asked if there was any allowance for hairstylists to go to clients’ homes to do their hair, Governor Stitt replied that he would take such considerations under advisement, stating, “As long as you stay out of groups of ten or more, we understand that there’s things like that that you’re going to have to continue to figure a way to do.” 

The truth is that you’re still taking a small degree of risk even when you get food delivered to your house or someone is dropping something off to your home and there is no contact, so it’s important to exercise as much caution as possible and not to lose sight of that. 

Above all, COVID-19 safety is not just about your risk, but about the risk to your community if you or someone else could be an asymptomatic vector. Always imagine anyone you’re interacting with could be positive for COVID-19 and act accordingly because the truth is that any one of us could be. That’s why it’s crucial to avoid all face-to-face contact and sanitize everything you come into contact with. 

If I were a betting woman, and I am if penny slots count, I’d say there’s a good chance there will be a shelter-in-place within two or three weeks in Oklahoma, so plan ahead with a mind for flexibility. If a more restrictive shelter-in-place order is issued, be sure to follow it closely as a matter of public health and safety not just for our own kids, but for everyone else’s family. 

With all that said, in the spirit of maximizing your birthday fun as much as possible while minimizing your chance for contracting the Rona, here’s a long list of cool things you can do to give your birthday person or graduate an amazing day. Without further ado:

1. Use Facebook and Email to Send Parade Invites

Ask your friends and loved ones to decorate their cars, hold up signs, bring their favorite instruments, honk, or dress up in silly outfits and have a parade. Use social media or email to send invitations. Just be sure to remind everyone that they need to stay at least six feet away. It’s also a good idea to designate a spot for leaving gifts.

Also: don’t forget to livestream the parade!

2. Use the Nextdoor App and Get the Neighbors to Join In

This fantastic idea comes from a Facebook user who suggested bringing all of the neighbors into the game. I bet plenty of folks around your neighborhood will enjoy a safe chance to see someplace other than their sofa.

3. Decorate the Lawn

Balloons

Photo courtesy of Issazii Creates and Invites

If you’re having a birthday party, you should decorate! Use sidewalk chalk to create cheerful messages and brighten up the neighborhood. You can also drag out your holiday decorations and get silly. Things are weird right now, so don’t be afraid to get wacky with the whole thing.

You can also have a cool sign display installed for your birthday kid or grad:

Or hire a professional balloon decorator like these to decorate outside your home:

4. Decorate the Inside of the House

Just because you aren’t having a party doesn’t mean you can’t go wild inside your house with balloons and streamers. Pinterest is chock full o’ birthday decoration ideas. Chasing Perfection offers a contact-free party package including cake and 6’ balloon garland delivered to your door. 

5. Host a Completely Virtual Party

This idea comes from a local mom via Facebook. For her daughter’s sixth birthday, she’s making a party box for each “attendee” to be delivered ahead of time. Each box includes a DIY bracelet kit, a cup, a plate, cookie or cupcake, confetti, and balloon. Partiers will log on to a video conference, open their boxes together, and even sing happy birthday! 

These kinds of party boxes could also be left for drive-by partiers to take for those of you doing the parade route as long as you’re very careful about maintaining the quarantine space. 

Not sure what app to use? Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype are all great options. Party guests on Zoom can even play online games together

I asked my kids if it was possible to set up a party in Roblox or Minecraft, but they all talked over each other and their answer was a weird tweenspeak algebra equation I don’t have the patience to solve. Tl;dr I’m sure it can be done but you’re on your own.

6. Order Birthday Supplies Via Curbside Pickup

Rather than risk going to the store, you can order your decorations, cake supplies, and party snacks from a store that offers curbside pickup like Reasor’s or Walmart. Just search for “birthday” when placing your order online.  

7. Get a Cake or Sweet Treats Delivered

There are plenty of bakeries around just dying to fill your order for a custom birthday cake or a box of macarons. All places that serve food count as essential businesses, so here’s a comprehensive list of amazing bakers in the area:

Fb Img 1582176809319

Photo courtesy of Onifade’s Cookie Company

8. Order their Favorite Meal

Local restaurants need your support now more than ever, which is why now is the perfect time to order your kid’s favorite dish and have it delivered.

You can find tons of ideas in the Stand Up to COVID 19 group on Facebook. If someone doesn’t deliver, you can also use www.yourdoordelivery.com and get a free birthday singing telegram upon request.  

9. Get a Chuck E. Cheese Basket Delivered

If your kid is like mine and is obsessed with creepy audio-animatronics, Chuck E. Cheese is offering at-home party packages that include balloons, pizzas, tickets for when they reopen, a plushie, and even a cake. They also have custom Easter baskets from their merch wall. Call 918.252.9662 to order yours.  

10. Have a Balloon Crown Delivered or Get a Balloon Performance

Tulsa Balloon Guy

Photo courtesy of Balloon-ertainment

Balloon-ertainment will make a balloon crown for your birthday kid, no contact required. Balloon artist Brady will do a balloon performance in your yard, social-distancing safe, of course!

11. Have a Virtual Character Visit

Since they contact you virtually, this is one of the best ideas out there for kids’ birthdays. 

  • Sunderful Superheroes is offering virtual tea parties and web messages from a wide range of characters including Mary Poppins, Spider-Man, Moana, Rapunzel, and more. Choose from more than 40 characters.
  • The Storybook Princesses are offering virtual tea parties and video chats with some famous princesses and superheroes as well for donation-only right now so kids can experience more magic in these tough times.
  • JAM Character Parties is doing 5-minute short video messages for $10 and 15-minute video chats for $20, and all proceeds go directly to the performer. 
  • Once Upon a Crown has pre-recorded and video calls starting at a $20 recommended donation. 

12. Get a Quarantine Concert from Hot Toast

Hot Toast is the #1 source for awesome local kids’ music, and they’re offering curbside quarantine concerts right now. It’s also completely legal for entertainment industry workers to continue their work while honoring social distancing, according to our governor’s guidelines. 

13. Get a Virtual Singing Telegram

BAM Entertainment is doing virtual singing telegrams and a nightly storytime right now.

14. Have a Virtual Art Party

Get your Bob Ross on. Work with a local artist or studio to do a paint-along party with everyone over Zoom. Here are some suggestions I found on Facebook:

15. Play Virtual Charades or Pictionary

This is one of my favorite suggestions from Facebook. Use Zoom or another video app and play a game of charades or Pictionary with all of their friends. 

16. Have a Scavenger Hunt or a Treasure Hunt

Create a cool treasure hunt with clues to lead your birthday kid to his or her gifts. Or take a page from GISHWHES and host a virtual scavenger hunt. You can create your wacky birthday list in an app like Canva. 

For young kids, add easy items that can be found around the home including art they can create. For anyone old enough for social media, you could really have a blast with this. Come up with unique, wacky, weird, and happy things they can create using household objects: “Make a cake to give to a neighbor using social distancing” or “Create a robot out of your recycling bin.”

17. Give Gift Cards and Memberships

If your kids or grads are old enough to appreciate it, this is an awesome opportunity to pay it forward in a different way by taking care of our local businesses now with a gift card or membership they can use later. 

18. Have a Gift Delivered

Finding a gift for Lucy was quite a challenge, so here’s a list of local businesses that deliver gifts to make it easier for you.

Although I feel like I’ve planned a party now that I’ve put together this extremely long and intensive post, I actually haven’t started yet. Phew! I probably should have looked up where to get quarantinis when I was doing all that legwork. 

Do you have a birthday or celebration coming up soon? Share your no-contact ideas for a celebration below and drop in your favorite local no-contact birthday businesses into the comments. Thanks for reading, be safe, and have a beautiful week in your nebula. 

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