The social distancing approach to making the most of celebrations: We Can Still Celebrate!

The social distancing approach to making the most of celebrations: We Can Still Celebrate!

It’s probably not a newsflash at this point. Things are still VERY different than they were this time last year. Even as businesses begin to gradually reopen, it’s unlikely that GATHERINGS will be back to normal any time soon.

And that’s hard. Most of the time when we get together with family and friends it’s to celebrate some of the best parts of life. Graduations, birthdays, marriages, retirements, anniversaries, baby showers. Who wouldn’t want to get together and celebrate these joyful occasions?

But if we’re still trying to practice social distancing, how can we celebrate these important occasions?

Personally, I didn’t think it would be such a big deal that we had to defer my kids’ birthday parties this year. But you know, after months of missing gymnastic classes, and nights out with the family, and others’ birthdays, it felt like one more thing they would miss out on if we didn’t do a little something special.

Feel free to amend based on your specific occasion, but here are some ideas for celebrating special events when you’re still in quarantine:

Let the Whole Neighborhood Know

When my mom turned 40, I let everyone in the neighborhood know because I TP’d the house and had signs in the yard encouraging drivers to honk their horns. My grandfather and I actually skipped out of church to finish the job secretly before my mom got home!

While I wouldn’t suggested wasting that valuable, and sometimes hard to locate toilet paper, the general idea remains the same. Hooray Yard Signs Beaverton ( delivers, puts together, and deconstructs elaborate yard signs for all kinds of occasions. If balloons are more your thing, check out Balloons by Twisted Sisters ( based out of Salem (with many Beaverton moms saying they are well worth the extra distance).

Or, you could go the old-fashioned way, and make the signs and decorations yourself.

Make the Cake Together

For my kids’ birthday last year, I made a six-layer rainbow cake that took HOURS. While I will never do that again, it was kind of nice to provide a special birthday cake like my grandmother used to do for me when I was growing up.

For this year, I think I’ll have the kids help with their cakes. If nothing else, it will eat up a couple of hours that aren’t spent on a screen. I’m going for something simple, maybe two layers of funfetti cake (a mix can easily be store bought or you can find a straightforward recipe on Pinterest). Once the cake has cooled, the kids will be in charge of decorations. This will likely result in a sight to behold with an ungodly amount of frosting, sprinkles, marshmallows, and any other candy they can find to use as “decoration”. But hey, we’re making memories here, not competing on British Bake Off!

Alternatively, you could go for gold and find a more complicated cake design online and try to replicate it. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing (I don’t) and it ends up looking a mess (it probably will), a funny #nailedit cake could make for a birthday to remember.

Parade of Friends

You’ve probably seen a video or two online of friends, family, or teachers in their cars rolling by a special someone’s house. This is becoming more and more common because it’s the closest thing we have to our celebrating together. Also, little kids love it.

Set a specific time range and let everyone know ahead of time. It doesn’t have to be all that organized but it will let the honored person know what time to be outside in order to give a wave back.

Decorate Their Car to Let Everyone Else Know

This was a common occurrence during graduation season in my hometown. Seniors would have their cars decorated by their families with special car-safe paint. It was also pretty common with marriage celebrations (think the quintessential “Just Married” car in any movie or TV show).

As long as the decorations won’t damage the car, or cause any blind spots when a person is driving, I say go for it!

Stay In, Order Out, and “Party” Online

Since dining in at their favorite restaurant is still tricky at best, make the most of it at home. Order pick-up or delivery from their usual spot. Then, get together online for a virtual meetup. The current popular option is Zoom, but Facebook has recently released “Rooms”, and Google has upgraded “Meet” too.

Katie Carrick lives in Beaverton with her husband, two young children, and their yappy but loveable dog, Mendel. She’s a former clinical scientist who now works as a freelance writer. For more information visit