It’s challenging to plan a birthday party in the middle of a pandemic, especially a 30th birthday. My husband Tommy turned 30 on April 10th and for his birthday we were planning on taking a two week road trip from Seattle to the Grand Canyon and back.
We were going to travel to Helena, MT to visit our friends, hike and then camp around there in this log cabin. From there the plan was to drive to Yellowstone, head to Salt Lake City, go to Antelope Canyon, travel to the Grand Canyon and end our trip in Portland. We wanted to rent a van from Escape Campervans (with a queen bed, kitchenette and everything you need for a great road trip) and we were planning on bringing our pup Edgar to make this a family adventure. Unfortunately we canceled since we’re in the middle of a corona crisis and had to come up with plan B for Tommy’s birthday.
I saw this Birthday Parade idea from a teacher I follow on Instagram who posted about celebrating her sons birthday. They had a parade of cars driving by, honking, yelling out the window, cheering, etc. So I thought, why not have a Surprise Drive by Birthday for my 30 year old hubs. This way he could still see all his favorite people while still maintaining social distancing. And WOW…it was amazing.
We started his birthday like any other person in quarantine would; by sleeping in late, lounging around the house, not getting dressed and staying in our pjs. We purchased the game Crash Bandicoot for xBox and played this for a good part of the day (I was obsessed with this game when I was younger, if you’ve never played I suggest getting it). Between racing on Crash Bandicoot for hours and getting up for parts of the day to be productive, I baked Tommy a birthday cake and we had Bloody Merrys (he still had no idea about the surprise planned for later).
Eventually I asked Tommy to shower and put on real clothes (remember we were lounging living the quarantine life) because I told him I wanted to take a picture of him opening his gift. For part of his gift I needed to have my laptop projected onto the TV and asked him to help me with this. At this point he was starting to wonder what was going on and said he was getting worried. He thought I was going to surprise him with a Zoom Birthday Meeting with all of his friends (something he specifically said he did not want).
I assured him we would not be having a Zoom meeting and instead played the video I made for him; 30 Reasons Why I Love You. By the end of the video we are both teary eyed and cracking up and I told him it’s time for his second surprise. Oh no, what. Oh no what are you planning, what are we doing; was what Tommy kept asking as I had him walk outside to the street.
I showed him the sign and balloons on my car and told him this was the surprise, to wait there so I could take his picture. At this point he’s starting to get suspicious, looks down the hill and sees the long row of cars about to drive up. He couldn’t believe it.
So many of Tommy’s closet friends and family members came out to celebrate him on his 30th! Cars were decorated with balloons + banners + streamers, bday signs were out, dogs + kids + babies in the backseats, sunroofs open, gifts passed through car windows (lots of delicious baked goods because ya know great quarantine hobby), lots of honking, lots of cheering. 14 cars total. It was awesome.
Among all the balloons and gifts was a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, so naturally Tommy got down on one knee and chugged it. After the parade a group of friends and family members parked on the street and the drive by parade turned into little block party (all while maintaining social distancing), with some champagne and cake to follow.
After everyone left, Tommy and I enjoyed the cake to ourselves since he blew out the candles and we didn’t want to spread germs to anyone. But dang! Three layer cake…it was good. Recipe from Half Baked Harvest. Highly recommend and I’m not usually a baker.
His final surprise was a Virtual Birthday Card from a website called Group Greeting (Thanks Brann for recommending this site!). You can choose from a variety of cards, send the link to friends + family to have them sign and then it gets emailed out whenever you schedule. You can also turn it into a PDF to print out and deliver in person. (Some offices have been using these to stay connected. Also there are more than just birthday cards on this site, could be used in lots of different ways).
Perhaps a Birthday Parade will become the new normal for a while. It might sound like a silly idea, but the impact of seeing the people who mean the most to you on your birthday is just incredible (even if it is just for a quick drive by moment). I definitely recommend planning or participating in this if you know of an upcoming birthday and are looking for a creative way to celebrate. Great for all ages, something to look forward to, gets the whole family out of the house, very unique, lots of laughter, lots of fun and so very memorable.