It’s not easy, turning 30. For anyone over 30 reading this, feel free to unleash the eye-roll – we are fully aware of how nauseating this claim can be – but it’s true. A person’s twenties are designed for questionable decision making and self discovery. It’s a decade where you’re given a tall stack of free passes to fuck up, where people will tell you, ‘stop worrying, you’ve got plenty of time to figure it out’. Saying goodbye to all that can send people into a tailspin and if they are facing a ‘lockdown 30th’, chances are they are spinning out tenfold. Lockdown birthdays are hard enough, but watching your twenties slip away after a year of next to no surprises? Without so much as a flirtation in the corridor of a houseparty? Unthinkable.
We’ve been living this pandemic long enough that we all have a ready stash of ideas for lockdown birthdays. We’ve sat through online quizzes, smiled patiently through Zoom karaoke sessions, we’ve had six-person parties in the park with a bag of cans and called it a birthday rave. But a lockdown 30th calls for something more. And by ‘more’, we mean thoughtful birthday deliveries.
Got a friend who is pining for fancy cocktails? Give them the tools to make their own Espresso Martini. Did they become obsessed with crafting during lockdown one? Send them a pottery studio in a box. Better yet, look to the future and book them a post-lockdown experience to remember, like a day of canoeing through Little Venice, a classic car ride through the county, or another unique experience from our gift ideas list below. If you’re the one who is turning 30 in lockdown, get yourself any present you please. And stop worrying; you still have plenty of time to figure it out. In the meantime, here are nine fabulous ways to mark the big 3-0, pandemic be damned:
Sipping elaborate drinks while perched on a chrome barstool in Soho is just one of the many pleasures denied to us in lockdown. If you have a friend that’s turning 30 before hospitality reopens, bring the bar to them with this DIY cocktail kit. Each box has enough to mix four fancy drinks, and you can choose a cocktail to match their taste, like a Salted Coconut Rum Espresso Martini, a Dragon Fruit & Lychee Daiquiri or a Non-Alcoholic Pineapple & Rosemary Gin Sour. You’ll still have to raise a glass to their lockdown birthday over Zoom, but at least it’ll be filled with an Espresso Martini.
Did your friends suddenly get very into arts and crafts during lockdown? You’re not the only one. By May 2020 it felt like everyone in the UK was spending their weekends making macrame plant hangers. If your crafty friend is turning 30, help them experiment with a new medium by sending them a micro pottery studio filled with air dry clay, paints and a video tutorial. You might even get a handmade clay planter in return.
Online shopping is great for a much needed hit of dopamine, but compared to browsing shop windows, clicking through web pages can feel a little joyless. If you’re searching for lockdown birthday ideas for someone who is obsessed with accessories, give them the gift of the perfect clutch bag. With the ‘Paintable Clutch Kit’, they’ll get sewing materials and pre-cut leather to paint and design into the bag they’ve always wanted but could never find. Surely we’ve all watched enough Drag Race reruns to conquer our own sewing challenge.
If you know someone who is fussy about whisky, buy them their own virtual tasting bar with a Japanese Whisky Masterclass. In lieu of having an actual 30th birthday party, they can Zoom into east London’s Map Maison bar for tasting tips from an in-house mixologist. The gift includes enough booze for two people, so if you’re bubbled-up, you can join them to toast their third decade on this earth.
Oh to be sitting in a restaurant, tearing through bread rolls and over-ordering dishes ‘to share’. Booking a big long table for a 30th birthday party is off the cards at the moment, but, if you’re feeling generous, you can send a skilled chef to cook your friend a Michelin-worthy meal in their own kitchen. Under the current guidelines, indoor mixing of two households (up to six people) will be allowed from May 17, so if your housemate is turning 30, you can turn your flat into a posh restaurant for the night. You won’t even have to do the dishes at the end.
If you’re tired of making do with Zoom-based birthday parties, look to the outdoors. Under the current social distancing rules, you can meet one friend from a different household outdoors. If that friend happens to be turning 30, why not meet on a canoe, where you can spend the day navigating the waterways through Little Venice. The rules also allow for a ‘picnic’ so you can pack a few sandwiches for the ride.
Chances are you know at least one person who decided to learn ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ (or whatever else comes up when you Google ‘very easy guitar songs’) during lockdown. To help your pal expand their repertoire, book them a private blues guitar class with the former guitarist of The Stranglers, John Ellis. Over four hours, Ellis will teach them bluesy slides, whams, and turnarounds, and all the chord sequences needed to play a 12-bar blues tune. Maybe it’ll inspire them to master the F chord so they can treat you to a rendition of Golden Brown.
Had just about enough of this lockdown business? Blow this popsicle stand and escape to the countryside in a tiny car. With this experience, you’ll get a set itinerary through one of the locations of your choice (Surrey Hills, Charming Chilterns, Kent Downs or Essex Escape) and 24 hours of self-drive hire in a restored Mini Cooper Classic. It’s a great day trip for couples, so if your partner is turning 30 soon, you can whizz through country lanes Italian Job style, and shake off those lockdown cobwebs for good.
Since walking became the only outdoor pastime, a lot of people have become more aware of their surroundings, and are taking more time to stop and smell the flowers (or is it a weed, who knows? Some of us are still learning). But if you’re going to start foraging for your food, you better know your stuff, unless you want to wind up in A&E. On this ‘Foraging and Feast’ experience you’ll be taken on a London-based tour with a licensed foraging pro, where they’ll show you how to harvest wild ingredients and turn them into lunch. You’ll never look at nettles the same way again.