Quarantine Birthdays

I LOVEEEEE Birthdays! Birthdays ~especially my own~ are one of my favorite things to plan, attend, celebrate, and look forward to! In November, I threw a 10th birthday party, just my parents and I, for my dog because he’s older and that’s just how much I love birthdays. At the start of 2020, I was so excited about finally turning 21. And then COVID happened. (On a side note, I think I’ve written that line now about a hundred times).

Although I wasn’t able to have the celebration I had dreamed about ever since I turned eighteen, it ended up being a lovely day. My partner and my parents drove me to a vineyard where we did a wine tasting and had a picnic. In the evening we all got dinner from my favorite Italian restaurant and my mom bought me my favorite cake red velvet cake. It was simple and yet one of the best birthdays ever. And really, I was just feeling grateful to spend it with loved ones, be healthy, and indulge in a break from all the chaos the last year has brought. I’ve always felt lucky to have a summer birthday because the weather is almost always beautiful, and being outdoors was certainly better for COVID purposes.

My roommate Abby and our friend Mariko on her birthday last week!

This year, it seems that March is the month of birthdays. Every week this month, there are at least two friends or loved ones that have a birthday, which is crazy! I have so many birthdays to keep track of that I had to schedule them all as events on my Google Calendar (a very helpful way to remember to be honest)! And unlike other years, I have yet to miss one (so I figure I might start scheduling birthdays from now on). For people who have March birthdays it was either just right before the pandemic last year (my sister), or right when everything was shut down (my partner), or during lockdown––either way, March birthdays had it rough last year. But the prospect of celebrating birthdays for my family and friends who spent theirs in lockdown last year made even virtual plans seem extra exciting this year!

This year, the month started off strong with my younger sister’s 16th birthday. I left for college when she was only 12 and feel that I’ve missed really big parts of her growing up (last year I missed her quinceañera, 15th birthday party, because I was abroad). And so celebrations for her (on my behalf) have been virtual for a while, but I’ve always tried to make them really special. This year I ordered her birthday presents (including a Harry Potter butterbeer tea collection) to our house, FaceTimed her on the day of, and made sure she sent me lots of photos of her celebrating. I basically just spent the whole day being an annoying older sister!

Birthdays, like many big life events, have had to become more creative than ever. And there are only more to come. Regardless of whether we can celebrate (safely) together in person or virtually, birthdays over the last year have taught me that while one day of the year isn’t enough to care about and do special things for the people I love, it’s still nice to plan something special and let that person know just how much I’m thankful for them. Here are a few of the ways I’ve chosen to celebrate my friends and family’s birthdays this month in particular, and if you’re stuck on quarantine birthday ideas you might want to try these too: 

  1. Sending the person a nice text or a phone call. I do this with all my family back home.
  2. Sending a custom gift to someone and making it a surprise - ex: the Harry Potter tea to my sister.
  3. Plan a Zoom or FT call with friends and loved one. I did this recently for my partner and it was really fun!
  4. Getting take-out from the person’s favorite restaurant or a new restaurant! My current take-out spots in New Haven are: Sushi on Chapel, Soul de Cuba (now on Snackpass!), Rubamba, The Pantry, 163 pizza (soooo good).
  5. If someone you live with/is in your pod has a birthday: put up a happy birthday sign, get some balloons, and do a cute photoshoot for them!
  6. You can never go wrong with DESSERTS! Cookie cakes, cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, donuts, I love them all. If you’re in New Haven, there are so many places to get sweet treats from: Havenly, T-Swirl Crepe, Arethusa, Ahsley’s, Four Flours, Katalina Bakery, Edible Couture, Doughlicious––I’ve been to all of these!
  7. If you can safely plan an activity like an outdoor picnic or hike that’s always fun too! Recently, I went bowling at 2pm when there was no one at the bowling alley, it was super fun!

Pizza from 163 for my friend’s outdoor birthday picnic last week!