Seven weeks into lockdown, and we're running out of ideas. The days are blurring into one; we've started doing things like defrosting the freezer as a 'treat'; and, quite frankly, we've stopped wearing deodorant. And more importantly, we're all Zoomed out – after all, there are only so many green screens you can use before it all gets a bit, well, same-y. So how do you celebrate? No, not with a group Instagram workout (although you can do that if you like). We've found a few more inventive ways to celebrate a birthday in lockdown, although we might just organise some of these for ourselves, birthday or no.
There are several golden rules for celebrating birthdays properly, and the first one is that pancakes for breakfast are a must. In a pre-corona world, we'd have made a beeline for one of our favourite pancake purveyors, Where The Pancakes Are in London Bridge. Of course, that's not an option – but head to our list of home kits and you'll see we've collaborated with Where The Pancakes Are to bring you a parcel of everything you need to create 'cakes worthy of a king (or queen). These are the proper American-style buttermilk ones, topped with sweet-yet-salty maple bacon from Swaledale, blueberries and bananas. Yep, that's what we call a flipping good birthday breakfast.
If the mountain won't come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain. By which we mean: if you can't get to your mate's favourite restaurant, get the restaurant to come to you. Check online to see which of your local joints are offering takeaway or delivery; or order one of Pasta Evangelists knock-out pasta kits, which will easily fit through your door. If you live in North London, you might be in reach of Top Cuvée, the banging wine bar and small plates restaurant in Highbury. The team there have created various menus – vegos, meaty bois, the feast, and the birthday feast – designed for a glorious night in. In fact, you might as well order the birthday feast (complete with party playlist) whether there's a birthday involved or not.
Gin is the drink du jour, and what better way to celebrate than drinking lots of different kinds of it? We've partnered with MicroBarBoxTM to create a home kit uncovering the distilled (and scandalous) history of gin, complete with tutored tastings – all from the comfort of your sofa. You'll get a box filled with different gins and everything you need to truly enjoy them to the max, plus a link to a private Zoom room on your chosen date for a 90-minute masterclass. Get friends and family that don't live with you to buy one too, and it'll be (almost) as good as a real party.
You can't have a party without balloons, and thankfully there are several places delivering inflated helium balloons direct to your door. Get them big, get them shiny, get a name or get numbers – this definitely isn't a case of less is more.
It goes without saying that you've probably got time on your hands to make one, but if not, support a local bakery that's offering delivery. Cutter & Squidge are a London favourite, but they'll deliver nationwide too – their show-stopping cakes are made with natural ingredients, which means better flavour and they're better for you, too. And if you're feeling particularly enterprising, hop on your bike or in your car and drop off a slice for your friends, so you can all enjoy during a Zoom call. All together now: aaaaaaah.
This isn't one for the fainthearted. This is how it works: turn each room in your house into a different 'bar' with its own dedicated drink (you technically need nine rooms, but two can double up). Make a scorecard for each player – just give it a quick Google – set the pars for each drink, and off you go. Make sure you have some aspirin in the house, hmmm?
If your housemate is a culture vulture, check out independent theatres or check their favourite artists' social media feeds to see if they're streaming performances (we also love Tiny Desk Concert). Sadler's Wells and The Globe are among the establishments that are offering online showings of their world-class performances, so there's some seriously good stuff out there if you know where to look.
Forget birthday cards– order a Boomf Bomb instead. These clever little things are customisable exploding cubes. Upload your photos, write the message, pick your confetti and hit order. Tell your friend not to open the card until you speak to them on Zoom… And sit back and wait for the shock factor.
You've got the cake, the card and dinner on table.. all you need now are some cocktails (and maybe a friend or two). Say hello to Halo's White Port Paloma delivered to your door.
In the immortal words of Chris Brown, ridin' solo through lockdown? Never fear – you can still date digitally... Read our guide to online dating during coronavirus here.