How to Celebrate Birthdays in Quarantine

Senior Emily Cox stands outside of isolation dorm Moriarty Hall on her 22nd birthday after testing positive for COVID-19. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every part of our lives. Quarantine and CDC guidelines have forced people to postpone weddings, cancel events and so much more. But there’s one thing that we can’t postpone: birthdays. 

For nearly a year now, people have had to figure out how to celebrate their birthdays in a quarantine, or even worse, isolation. Some have been lucky enough to have their birthday fall during a time of low numbers and looser restrictions, allowing outdoor celebrations with loved ones. However, others have had quite opposite luck. 

Senior Emily Cox spent her 22nd birthday in Moriarty Hall after testing positive for COVID-19 a few days prior. Bummed out at first, she was dreading the day. 

“I thought it was going to be so sad, being completely isolated in Moriarty with none of my friends and no usual birthday festivities,” Cox said. “Surprisingly, though, so many of my friends came to wave outside my window or dropped off gifts. I received so many texts and calls too. What I expected to be maybe one of my worst birthdays ever turned out to be one of the best.” 

Cox’s experience shows how birthdays in isolation can be surprising and make one feel more connected and loved than being with others physically. There are so many ways to celebrate a loved one and make their day special, even if a person cannot be with them. 

One of the most obvious options is hosting a Zoom meeting with friends and family. Pick a theme, such as Mardi Gras, luau or roaring twenties, and encourage guests to dress up and make themed food and drinks. 

Another idea is to create a compilation happy birthday video or slideshow. Have loved ones send in videos of them wishing a friend a happy birthday, sharing their favorite memories, favorite things about them and more. You can also incorporate photos into the montage by having everyone send you photos including themselves and the birthday person over the years. You can then present this over Zoom for everyone to watch during the birthday party. 

Sending a Cameo is another way to make a quarantine birthday special. Cameo is a fun platform on which people’s favorite celebrities can make a personalized video, starting at $15. The surprise and hilarity of receiving a video message of a celebrity wishing someone a happy birthday by name is bound to make any birthday memorable.

Finally, one can drop off or order delivery for some favorite special treats. Sophomore Caroline MacLaren recalls how her mom had a cake decorated with her favorite things for her birthday back in May.

“It was so thoughtful and made the day really special,” MacLaren said.