Over the last few weeks, the team at Sawyer has been transitioning and settling into our new normal. Whether that’s shifting our routines to support online learning to becoming Zoom meeting pros, the days feel long — but we are thankful for the joy and enthusiasm our children bring to the challenging situation.

No matter how static our daily lives feel, we’re seeing time continue to pass! Spring is here, which also means that a lot of our little ones are celebrating their birthdays! Whether you go “all out” for birthdays or prefer more subdued and casual events, we’ve pulled together the Sawyer Guide for throwing a special celebration for your little one virtually.

How do you host a virtual birthday party?

First, decide how much time you want to commit to a birthday! Do you want to plan an entire day of activities, an afternoon of fun, or a single hour of celebration? For us, we’ve found that sprinkling special moments for our guest of honor during the day are important. Whether it’s their favorite breakfast, a favorite movie in the afternoon, or just time alone with mom or dad--we’ve always found the special moments as a family the most rewarding, no matter the circumstances.


What should I do about decorations? 

Decorations really help set a festive mood! Hang streamers, set up decorations based on your theme, and even incorporate the theme into other parts of their day! Make sure the room you’ll be “broadcasting” the party from is decorated the most so that the theme translates to your party guests. 


How do you entertain kids at a virtual party?

This is the most fun part of party planning! Think about what your child enjoys and how that would translate into a virtual experience. Are they particularly interested in dinosaurs? Space? Moana? Think about what gets them excited and think through how that would translate into a unique experience for the group! 


Hiring Professionals

Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t have some type of entertainment! Hire someone who can entertain the kids via video—a dance teacher for a dance party, a puppeteer, a magician, costumed character, or even a singer! If you want to go the extra mile, hire a llama from our friends at Mtn Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas.

For a project-based party, find someone to host a class in cupcake making, cooking, or painting.  Everyone on the video will be able to see the instructor, and it’s a great way to provide some entertainment.

We’d suggest either reaching out to your child’s favorite class or even taking a few trial classes to determine which professional to hire! Check out our full list lower in this post.


Create a balloon drop

Take some lightweight fabric (like tulle or netting from amazon) and cut it in half. Using masking tape, make a tail (for pulling) and carefully tape the two pieces of fabric together, creating a seam. Masking tape is key as it will hold the pieces together, but will also separate from the fabric easily. 

Tie the corners to rafters, beams or the ceiling to create a “basket.” After you get all four corners anchored, you may need to adjust them to the desired height. Next, blow up the balloons using a pump and drop them into the “basket.”  Then when you’re ready for the drop, pull the tape tail you created, open the seam and it’s raining balloons!


Dress Up

If you’re having a theme, encourage your guests to dress up accordingly! Go the extra mile and do a family costume to make your little one feel the festivity. Bring in props like wands, glow in the dark costumes, and super hero capes! The sky's the limit.


The Cake

It wouldn’t be a birthday without cake! Have the entire group sing “Happy Birthday” together and blow out the candles! Either make the cake as a family (depending on the age of your little one, it could be a fun family activity) or order one from a local bakery. We’ve even seen parents arrange for small cupcakes delivered to the homes of their local friends. 

No matter how you’re celebrating, the point is to celebrate and cheer on your little one, making them feel loved and appreciated on their special day! 


Gifts

Gifts this year may feel a bit different, so here are a few ideas for some non-traditional options:

  • Gift cards to our favorite classes that can be used at a later date or for online classes! We love this because it’s also supporting our favorite small businesses.
  • Virtual Storytelling is great for grandparents! Enlist them to do a reading of your little one’s favorite bedtime story.
  • How about a birthday parade? Have your little one stand by your front door or on the front porch. Encourage their friends to come by and wish them a happy birthday from a safe distance!
  • Video Greeting! Have loved ones record themselves wishing your child a happy birthday. You can’t go wrong with a straightforward video recorded on a smartphone camera.

What are the best virtual birthday party ideas?

Celebrate your little one's birthday with the pros! The following providers offer enchanting (and enriching) virtual birthday parties. The best part? All of your little one's friends can join in!

Cooking activities

Games and imagination activities

Musical activities

Arts and crafts

How do you choose a virtual party theme?

Trust your child and ask for their input! Once your child is old enough to give input (age 2 to 3), definitely ask them what they want! Kids can come up with some pretty silly ideas, and it’s our job as parents to figure out a theme that gets them excited but is still achievable. For example, if they love unicorns AND Elsa, you could do an activity that ties in unicorns while everyone dresses up as a Frozen character. 

Here are a few that we love:

  • Circus themed 
  • Cupcake Decorating
  • Camp at home
  • Underwater and/or mermaids
  • Travel around the world (with virtual vacations!)

What makes a good virtual party host?

We suggest taking the pressure off yourself to be a “perfect” host. Our philosophy is that as long as you have fun, it’s a good party! That being said, there are a few tips that we can suggest to help your virtual party run more smoothly:

  • Make sure you have a stable internet connection: avoid the lag and the frozen faces! If your internet connection is unstable, we suggested getting an ethernet cord and plugging directly into your router instead of relying on wifi.
  • Check your lighting and background: find a spot with great natural light! We love setting up next to the window. The challenge is to make sure that your background isn’t brighter than your face, which creates a shadow and makes it hard for your guests to see you. To test your lighting, just set everything up and make sure that the lighting is how you want. Zoom also have the ability for you to set your own background! Whether you’re setting your background as a theme or 
  • Send the link to the event ahead of time (and ask for RSVP’s!) this is great way to make the event feel more unique and to get an estimate of how many people to expect. 
  • Coordinate with the other parents Not only to catch up and toss around ideas about the event, but also to give them a heads up on what they should bring. For example, is there going to be a performer? Are you asking parents to hold up a sign or card for your child? Coordinate with the parents to make sure that you’re on the same page! 
  • Do a test run Test with another family member or a friend. Check different lightings, confirm your internet connection and make sure the link works! 

No matter how you choose to celebrate your little one, remember that each birthday is unique --especially during these times. Focus on the present and the celebration of how your little one has grown and changed over the last year! Quality time as a family and community is what they will remember the most!