It’s not the greatest feeling knowing your birthday will fall while you are still locked down, I of all people should know as I saw my big 40th birthday plans crumble before my eyes. But as an adult we deal with the disappointment knowing that it’s a small sacrifice to make to keep our loved ones safe. However, I wasn’t so sure Stanley would be quite as understanding as he’d been looking forward to his 6th birthday since, well since the day after his 5th!
We’ve always had a ‘birthday tea’ at home to celebrate any birthday and the boys have always chosen their cake theme for me to try and create…so luckily no major changes there. But, we usually book a special day out, a mini break or a visit to an attraction too. No such luck this year! Add in the fact that extended family and friends can’t visit and I was tasked with still making Stanley’s birthday special from home. It had been James’s 3rd birthday in February and a visit to Cadbury World and partying with Nana at a family rave was very fresh in everyone’s minds, especially Stanley’s. So no pressure at all then!
I asked Stanley what he would like to do if Coronavirus didn’t exist, and he said:
I would like to go to the seaside, one with the games and the bit that goes out over the sea that you can walk on, and has the crocodile with the sausages!
Bless him! I assumed he didn’t mean the coast of Northern Australia, but rather a humble UK resort where Punch & Judy usually reside. I was determined to make that happen for him one way or another!
Oh, We Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside!
We don’t have a garden as such, but we recently did a yard makeover (read about that here) so I had a little more room to play with. All I needed was some good weather – ha ha yes, I know! As it happened we dropped lucky and it was beautiful on the day, but fully prepared for a UK summer I had an emergency canopy backup plan too.
In order to bring the seaside to Stanley I first wrote down all the things that we love about it. Then I found a carnival type font online, printed a few copies of the alphabet and crafted my own ‘signposts’
Yes, it’s an obvious one but essential really. I ordered 3 bags of play sand to be delivered and found some blue tarpaulin in the shed that would serve two purposes, to stop the sand from spreading too far and to give the illusion of the sea.
A few deckchairs, bucket and spade sets and we were all set.
There’s nothing Stanley likes more than taking a tub full of 10p and 2p coins into the arcade! One of his favourites is ‘the grabber’ or claw games where you have to try and win a prize, usually an impossible to grab plush toy.
I did a bit of searching online and found a ‘crazy claw’ game on Amazon. This is actually a family board game of sorts but I knew I could adapt it to our needs. I built the game up, used the tokens and balls from the set but then added a party bag of haribo sweets. I tested it out, it was nearly impossible to grab the sweets, and I was left highly frustrated yet determined to give it one more try – brilliant, just like the real thing!
My second game was a tin can alley set up. I started off trying to make my own, but I was worried about sharp edges with so many little fingers around so I purchased one in the end. It is a lovely set though and we have it to keep, it will be good fun on camping holidays.
A gift of a pair of paddleballs from our neighbour (who was in on the plan) completed our arcade. For a bit of healthy competition the winners from each game received a token (re-purposed from the Crazy Claw game) to use in exchange for…
This required some imagination, OK a lot of imagination and a sense of humour too! By this point I had decided that anything to make us all laugh during these strange times was a good thing. A donkey mask was fashioned onto Eli’s baby tricycle and voila, we had the fastest donkey this side of Blackpool! I knew it would make Stanley laugh but I expected him to think it was a bit silly and more of a token gesture. But nope, this birthday boy went hurtling down the back alley on the worlds smallest donkey a number of times throughout the day.
Fish & Chips
Our local chip shop had re-opened the week before offering a time slot collection service, and guess what? – they even served the children’s meals in a bucket and spade!
Well, that just had our names written all over it and the boys sat at the beach eating their lunch. Admittedly I had to take Stanley and James’s food out of the buckets and plate it up as they complained that they couldn’t eat it properly. I’ve learned not to get between boys and their food, Eli persevered though!
What else? We have a stable style backdoor so Daddy became an ice-cream man and took orders from his ‘kiosk’.
We had three flavours to go at and a choice of toppings, the end result was three very excited (and messy) boys.
This is where my cardboard hoarding came in handy! I wanted to recreate the face hole photo opportunities that are usually found on the pier at seaside resorts. I drew a cartoon character, complete with victorian style bathing suit onto a piece of thick cardboard. After painting it in I drew the outline in thick marker and then cut out the face hole. Ben made a base from scraps of wood he found in the shed so that it was free standing. We had great fun with this, we all had our photos taken.
We’ve had some amazing times at the seaside and Stanley always remembers his grandad knotting a hanky and putting it on him as a hat, and I can remember my Grandad doing it too to stop his bald head from burning. So, that was our party hats sorted, I already had some brightly coloured stripey napkins so I knotted them into hats, generational Grandad style chic.
Two days before Stanley’s birthday we had the good news that Nana could become part of our social bubble. She was able to celebrate and spend the day at the seaside with us (although I think she came purely for the ice-cream ha ha). It made Stanley’s day and there were lots of long awaited cuddles to be had for all three boys.
We also had some socially distanced visits to the gate from Stanley’s friends, and they were able to have ice-cream with us too which was lovely and a nice surprise for Stanley.
After we had sung Happy Birthday and he had blown out his candles on his cake I asked Stan if he’d had a good day, and his verdict was…’BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!’
I think lockdown birthdays can be just as much [if not more] fun than the all singing and dancing parties we were all used to pre Covid-19. If you put a little bit of effort in to make them memorable, you’ll have big smiles all round. But don’t just take my word for it, I asked my fellow bloggers how they made a lockdown celebration one to remember:
Sarah from Digital Motherhood:
We’re in Spain so it’s a bit different, though we were still in lockdown! I ordered cupcakes and we decorated the house with streamers, banners and balloons. We were allowed a small group of people around by the end of May so we had my parents and my daughter’s friend here for a bit. It was actually the day after they started to ease the rules so she was very lucky!
Michelle from Time and Pence:
We created a treasure hunt in the garden and gave my son clues to find lots of treats. We also arranged for his friends and family to have video chats and send him video messages then we ended the day with a BBQ and movie night! He had an extra surprise present in place of a party and he had a wonderful day!
Josie from Me, Them and the Others
We asked friends and family to record birthday messages for our son and then I edited them together to create a birthday video for him.
Erica from Things To Do In Kent
It was our son’s 4th birthday at the very beginning of lockdown so we were quite unprepared. We hastily put together a picnic in the garden and he got Gazillions bubble machines which he and his big brother loved playing with in the garden. For his older brother’s 9th birthday more recently we had a surprise movie day. I made a poster, we had far too many sweets and popcorn and he chose his favourite takeaway (Thai!), I would quite enjoy that for my own birthday!
Katrina from Trini Mama Bebe
We had a drive by birthday from friends and family, and even my sons favourite emergency service came to say hello. They gave him some sweets and some lights and sounds. It’s amazing what a tweet can do!
Nadia from Scandi Mummy
We celebrated our son’s 1st birthday in June with a little rainbow garden party as he’s a rainbow baby and it was (unsurprisingly) easy to find rainbow decorations and a cake to match!
Katie from Mums Family Fun
I organised a scavenger hunt and quiz with my son’s football buddies via Zoom for his 7th birthday. They all sang Happy Birthday to him with his cake. It was really lovely and he had a great day!
Kasia from Oh Mummy Mia
I made a cake for my son because we couldn’t buy any because of lockdown. I tried my best. He loves dinosaurs so the cake was with a dino theme. We did a picnic in our garden for his friendly dinosaurs and later we made homemade play doh and footprint fossils.
Paige from Paiges Preferences
We did a circus/fair for my sons 5th birthday. I have a highlight on my Instagram dedicated to it!
Kerry from Blissful Domestication
We did my sons 7th birthday as a pirate party. Activities included a treasure hunt, fancy dress, a video of happy birthday messages from friends, family and teachers. We decorated a tent for a tea party, and had a treasure chest piñata. Read all about our pirate party here.
Layla from Motherhood Diaries
I got the entire class to send my middle one a birthday message, along with other friends and family and compiled then together along with a Timeline of his birth to present day. He was chuffed! Read more of my party ideas here.
If you are feeling inspired by Stanley’s seaside birthday then check out my Pinterest board for more ideas.
To see what else we’ve been getting up to during lockdown click here
All images are my own unless otherwise credited and must not be reproduced without permission.