We’re used to having too much choice when it comes to celebrating our birthdays.
From club nights, bars and restaurants to cinemas, escape rooms and bowling, until the pandemic hit we had never been short of ideas.
Now, due to ongoing lockdown restrictions and a stay at home rule in place, many of us are at a loss of how to mark the special occasion.
Fear not, as we’ve got you covered whether you’re spending your birthday with your household or with friends over Zoom.
From a dance party and talent show to virtual bingo and a home cinema night, here’s a plethora of things you can do to celebrate turning another year older.
Lockdown birthday ideas
Murder mystery night
Murder mysteries never get old, and setting up a virtual detective’s game for your friends is seriously easy.
There are plenty of free murder mystery scripts online to download, which you can send to all the participants.
Choose a character for each person out of a hat, and encourage them to dress up as extravagantly as possible - and accents are definitely encouraged.
The winner is the person who solves the mystery.
This can make for a hilarious, quirky birthday night - but it’s best organised with a smaller group of people.
Birthday cinema night
Everyone’s been binge-watching Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ at the moment, but a movie night never really does get old.
Going to the cinema is a classic birthday activity - so why not bring the experience home?
To make your film more like a proper cinema experience, be sure to stock up on snacks - pick and mix, crisps, nachos and popcorn will suffice - and arrange the cushions, sofa and blankets so you can snuggle in to watch something.
If you find it difficult to decide what to watch, make a shortlist by writing down new releases on pieces of paper and pick out of a bowl.
Not for the faint-hearted, a birthday dance party can easily be organised on Zoom - but you have to lose your inhibitions.
Ask everyone on the call to choose one dance song and then add them onto a shared playlist (you can do this on Spotify) which can be accessed through the night.
Then, play each song and each person has to come up with their own dance to the song - if it’s bad, even better.
Vote for your favourites each round, and the winner is the person with the most votes.
You may want to have a few drinks at the same time!
We’ve all had enough of making banana bread, but why not look out the baking equipment especially for your birthday?
It may not be traditional to bake your own cake, but it’s a fun birthday activity that will keep you busy inside.
Why not challenge yourself by attempting a rainbow cake or a three-tier creation?
Or, if your baking skills really aren’t up to the test, just opt for something easy like birthday fairy cakes.
Either way, you can go all out at the supermarket by buying extravagant decorations and food colouring.
A plus of baking means you have plenty of snacks to accompany a birthday movie night later on.
Bring the restaurant to you
If you just can’t forget about the birthday meal that you would usually be enjoying at some fancy restaurant, you can order to dine-in.
Many places have started at-home delivery services where you can order a restaurant standard meal, pre-prepared that only needs to be heated up at home, or fresh ingredients to make your own.
The best part is that you don’t need to spend a fortune - while there are posher places offering three courses, there are many others that make cheaper meal kits with instructions that can be easily made up in no time.
If you google ‘restaurant at home’ then plenty of options will come up in your area.
If you’re particularly missing your local bar this birthday, why not organise a wine or cocktail tasting for your household - depending on what drink you prefer.
If you go with wine, you could pick up an assortment of mini bottles at the supermarket before pouring them in multiple glasses for a fancy taste test.
Or, if you fancy some cocktails, pick up the ingredients you need to make your classic espresso martinis, strawberry daiquiris and mojitos and get making to see who can produce the best-looking drink.
Drinks tasting can also easily be done over Zoom with friends - just tell them what ingredients to buy at the supermarket, and you’re good to go.
Make sure to pick up some snacks to go along with the tasting.
Treasure hunts may be cheesy, but when there’s little else to do this could be an entertaining birthday activity.
If your household has bought you gifts, ask them to hide them about the house, giving you clues that will lead you to their hiding places.
It doesn’t have to be any extravagant - hunting for a box of chocolates is just as fun!
Home spa day
A classic birthday activity is a spa day, and it’s easier than you think to plan one at home.
Pick up some sheet masks, snacks and magazines to pamper yourself, run a hot bath and just relax.
It’s a minimal-effort activity which will leave you feeling brand new.
You might not be able to plan a proper birthday party, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go all out with the decorations.
Purchase some balloons (helium age balloons are essential), streamers and banners and create your very own Instagrammable display for your day.
Websites like Not On The High Street and Etsy have loads of different personalised and handmade birthday decorations that you can get creative with.
Zoom quizzes may be overdone, but you’ll only get one chance to organise a big, fat birthday quiz for all your friends so you may as well go all out.
See how well your pals know you by devising rounds with personal questions, like your most embarrassing moments or your favourite songs.
It might be hard, but it’ll provide a good laugh and make you feel as if your friends are physically with you on your special day.
If you’re wondering what you could possibly do with your household on your birthday, don’t forget about a classic games night.
Look out all your old board and card games, from Monopoly and Uno to Pictionary and Articulate!, and create a hilariously competitive tournament.
Or, if you don’t own any games, you could always play a few rounds of charades.
Yes, it might end in tears, but at least you will have had a memorable day.
Bingo nights are a total crowd-pleaser, and it’s really easy to set one up with your household, or even virtually via Zoom or Skype.
The best part is that there is no limit to the number of people who can join in, whether you have three friends or 30.
And don’t worry about finding bingo cards, as there are plenty of free online resources.
Then, find a number generator and share your screen with everyone so they can see the numbers as they are selected.
The usual bingo rules apply, and you could even organise prizes for the winner and runners up.
Okay, this birthday idea isn’t for everyone, but for the more extroverted groups it could make for a hilarious night.
This works just as a normal talent contest would. Simply tell participants to come up with an idea for a performance which they can easily do on Zoom or Skype.
This could be anything from a dance routine, to singing, to acting, to telling jokes.
There needs to be judges, of course, who score each entrant before choosing the overall winner of the virtual talent contest.
The prize is eternal glory.