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How to throw a kids birthday party in the age of isolation

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 6 days ago Laura Hampson
a little girl holding a toy © Provided by Evening Standard

As the UK government orders people to stay inside their homes in an effort to slow the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus, children's birthday parties have suddenly become a no-go.

“We went from doing 200 parties a month, to zero,” Tommy Balaam, founder of children’s entertainment company Captain Fantastic tells the Standard.

“I’ve got six people on staff and 40 contractors as well as six franchises and they’ve got no work. What’s really sad is that January was the best January we’ve ever had and we were like, ‘2020 is our year! We’re going to have a great year.’ And then March hit…”

Gallery: 25 activities you can do with children at home [Photos]

Thankfully, we live in a digital era. Over the past week, Balaam and his team at Captain Fantastic have harnessed the power of the internet and taken its parties online, so parents can have entertainers beamed in if need be. The team also hosted a 24-hour live children’s party over the weekend and are hosting a number of free events on their website and Facebook page in the coming weeks.

If your child’s birthday is coming up, Balaam says it’s best to explain why their party will be more intimate than normal. “Explain that we’re trying to isolate ourselves a little bit so that we don’t make others sick," he says. "Then try to make it as an engaging day as possible.”

One thing Balaam says to remember is that kids will appreciate being able to spend more time with their parents: “You ask parents, ‘if you could have anyone over for dinner, who would you sit with?’ They say Einstein or football heroes but when you ask children who they would sit with, they say 'mum and dad'.

“They’re going to be spending all of this time with their parents, the people they love the most. For them, that’s a good thing. You want to have that fun and that joy with your children, and this is the perfect time to do so.”

Balaam’s top tips for organising a kid’s birthday party isolation-style

Prepare the decorations

“Firstly, prepare. If you want to buy balloons, buy them now. If your child has a party coming up in the next couple of months and you want to decorate, it’s best to get supplies as soon as you can.”

Bake food ahead of time and bake the cake together

Getty © Getty Getty

“Prepare what food you want to do to make it special. You can do these in advance, things that last like chocolate cornflake clusters. Make the birthday cake together, too. We need to go back to simple recipes, use what’s in our cupboard. Get involved with that cake, you only need flour, eggs and butter usually but make baking the cake part of the party. Even if it tastes horrible, it’s a memory that they will have and they can laugh about it.”

Make costumes from the clothes in your cupboard

“Get involved. You can go to the cupboard and make costumes and the parents can wear costumes to the party as well to make the kids feel special.”

Make the most of online resources

“Look into online resources too. Online kids parties are available on Captain Fantastic. If you want to beam someone in we offer magic shows online.”

Get their friends and grandparents to Skype in

Getty © Getty Getty

“It’s important for the kids to talk to their friends on their birthday as well, even if it’s just a ‘happy birthday’. Text all the mums and let them know it’s your kid’s birthday and could their kids Skype in or send over a card. That will make them feel special.”

Plan some kids games to play

“There’s loads of resources online for games. You can play musical chairs, pass the parcel, or do a talent show where the parents get involved too. If you’ve got lots of lego, you can set lego challenges to see who can make what in a set time period.”


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