Having been isolated in our homes for nearly two months due to the coronavirus outbreak, it’s fair to say that most people are eagerly anticipating the end of lockdown. However, amidst the excitement of returning to normality, it’s important to remember that many aspects of our lives may take a little longer to readjust to. One of these aspects involves parties, more specifically – children’s parties. But never fear, Captain Fantastic is here!

We’ve come up with a few top tips and ideas that will help you host a fun, and more importantly, safe, children’s birthday party for family and friends to enjoy. We believe that for the next 6-12 months the advice provided in this article could be key to ensuring that your child is able to experience a happy birthday, even in these strange and uncertain times.

The Birthday Party Itself

Here at Captain Fantastic, we’ve been working on new games and party set-ups that will allow your children to have fun whilst staying safe and following social distancing rules. We hope that you’ll be able to use some of these ideas for your own parties!

Party Kits

These are similar to ‘party bags’, but rather than being handed out at the end of the party they’ll be handed out at the beginning or left in each child’s designated space, to be used throughout the entertainment. Each will contain a themed face mask; we will incorporate this new piece of ‘costume’ into our parties by referring to them as our ‘superhero/science/ninja’ masks. For our UV parties, they will also contain some UV paint that the child can keep and decorate their mask with so that it glows in the dark. For our challenge/family parties, our party kits will also contain pens, paper, blindfolds and other interesting items needed for the activities ahead.

Family/Challenge Parties

After the success of our new online challenge parties, we’ve been working on adapting them to suit our ‘live’ social distancing parties (an ironic reversal of adaptation). Whilst hosting these parties, we’ve observed that the parents within each household have enjoyed joining in with the fun just as much as the children… cue: our new ‘Family Challenge Party’. This will involve family competing against family, with each household maintaining a safe distance whilst battling it out to be crowned the winner!

New Games and Distancing measures

For discos, we’ve come up with the idea of making floor grids using colourful neon tape (which glow brightly under our UV lighting), to ensure that children aren’t at risk of getting too close to each other. For our magic show parties we will be using hula hoops (each child will be sat in their own colourful hula hoop) – something fun and silly for them to experience, whilst keeping their safety as the number one priority. Of course, many traditional birthday party games will still be successful even with these safety precautions: musical bumps/statues, talent shows and dance routines will continue to be featured.

Parental Actions

Upon Arrival

Consider starting the party earlier than usual and staggering arrival times so that you don’t have all parents and children turning up at once. You could also do the same at the end of the party. We would suggest beginning the birthday party with the idea of cleanliness, encouraging your guests to wash their hands as they enter the hall – this should help put everyone at ease, as other parents will feel reassured that measures are being taken to ensure their child’s safety. There are plenty of ways to make this fun: we have our very own Wash Your Hands song that the children could listen and dance to whilst making sure their hands are clean. Before entering the birthday party you could have two parents standing by the door, marking the kids off from the special ‘VIP guest list’; they’d be given their Party Kit and told to enter the space one by one. This would have the double benefit of making the children feel special and excited, whilst also ensuring that they are maintaining a safe distance from one another.

Pre-party planning

Outside of the birthday party itself, there are actions you could be implementing as parents in order to ensure the safety of those attending. We’d recommend inviting fewer children than usual and encouraging parents not to stay for the duration of the party. For younger age-groups or for children who have specific needs, this wouldn’t be possible; we’d, therefore, advise that chairs are placed around the hall, spaced a couple of metres apart from one another, in order to minimise the risk of any potential contagion. This two-metre spacing will also act as a visual aid for the children, allowing them to observe the distance they should aim to keep from others. If you would prefer parents to sit with their children (for example with pre-school ages), remember to allow enough room to adhere to the social distancing rules. You should request that only one parent attends per family and no siblings attend, to avoid the room becoming over-crowded.

As it is harder for parents to leave toddlers unattended, we have launched our very own interactive toddler group via Zoom. This allows parents and their little ones to enjoy the birthday party fun and atmosphere, whilst not having to sacrifice their personal safety by entering into a crowded space.

It would also be beneficial to rent the hall out for an extra half an hour prior to the birthday party in order to make sure that any surfaces or party decorations that may be touched by guests are thoroughly wiped down.

Party Food

In order to prevent germs from being spread when blowing out candles on the birthday cake, we would suggest individual cupcakes being given out, rather than pieces of cake. You can also use sparklers instead of blowing out candles to prevent the risk of germs being spread. The sparklers could be used whilst the kids sing ‘happy birthday’ to give it that extra special birthday magic. Or, if the birthday girl/boy would prefer to blow a candle out, let them have their own cupcake with the candle in it.

Individually packed food boxes might be a safer option than the traditional ‘finger food’ usually served at parties; this would prevent the food from being touched by other people before it is eaten. In terms of seating arrangements, ensuring that there is a sizable gap, or maybe one empty seat in between each child, will also help prevent the spread of germs.

Allow enough time between the entertainment and food being served, for all children to wash their hands before they eat.

You should ensure you have plenty of drinks on hand for the party guests and any grown-ups and request that parents don’t bring their own food or drinks, to reduce the risk of germs spreading.

Gifts

When planning the layout of the room, you may want to allow enough space for a designated area or table for people to leave their gifts. Remind parents beforehand, or as they arrive, not to hand their gifts over to anyone but to kindly leave the gifts in the designated area to avoid them being handled by several people.

Plan B

Despite the excitement of taking those baby steps back into the real world after the coronavirus lockdown, we can’t ignore the fact that people will still be worried about the potential ‘second wave’ of the virus. We would encourage parents to make sure that the party companies they are booking with are prepared to be flexible with their postponement/cancellation policy. For example, Captain Fantastic offers the option to postpone your party to a future date at no extra cost, or you could use your deposit to transfer your ‘live’ birthday party booking into a virtual birthday party booking, should circumstances prevent the ‘live’ party from going ahead. We will also send some free gifts in the post to make sure that the birthday boy/the birthday girl still feels special if anything was to be postponed.

We may be going through a global pandemic, but we’re here to help you celebrate your little superheroes, who are bravely navigating their way through the chaos of this changing new world.

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