Are you having to celebrate your birthday or that of a loved one during lockdown? Well, I’m about to, and if I’m honest, I’ve felt a little depressed at the prospect of it.

I might get some cards. I may even get a present from my fiancé Matt, but only if he was able to buy something before lockdown or something has caught his eye on the internet (I can’t complain, we got engaged last year and he treated me like a Queen).

Of course, the best birthday present is that we are both well and safe at the moment and we hope that continues.

But if I’m really honest, I’ve been moaning for the last two weeks that it’s rubbish to have a birthday in lockdown when you cannot go out for a meal, go to the cinema or visit family or friends. I know this is rather trivial at such a time but it still feels a little bleak.

So  how can you celebrate when you are not allowed out, or to mix with anyone else? Matt’s voice of reason has finally won through. You make a plan! When you have no choice, you make the best of it or you make the worst of it. So with his help we’ve made a plan after discussing several possible options.

Here are just a few tips of what you can do to make ‘the day’ special in other ways.

How can you help to celebrate their birthday in lockdown?

  • Making birthday cards is an easy option for most of us. Use up those leftover scraps hidden in drawers around the house!
  • Prepare breakfast in bed for the birthday girl or boy – maybe with Bucks fizz, or something a bit different.
  • Decorate the house with whatever you can get your hands on easily (online shopping is great for this and do try to support a local business if you can). Or you may have balloons or other decorations lying around that could double up for birthdays.
  • Order a delivery of their favourite food from a local artisan food business would be both a lovely surprise, and means you are also supporting local business through a difficult time. Most communities have pubs, restaurants or independent food shops who are now doing deliveries.
  • Create and print out a menu; go the extra mile to decorate the table and cook a special meal.
  • Bake a celebratory cake.
  • Why not create a virtual ‘bake off’, so that other members of the family and friends, who can’t be there with you this year, can still celebrate in their own homes, and eat that meal too? It could be sweet or savoury or you could go the full distance and share a three course meal online.
  • Focus on the desires of the birthday girl or boy – their choice of place to walk; what to watch on TV, it is all about them for a day!

We’ve gone for a virtual bake off, which isn’t surprising because I’m such a foodie and, due to having anaphylaxis and being allergic to many food ingredients, cooking is something we do a lot at home! So for us this is the best option. I’ll leave Matt to decide if he wishes to make use of the other tips! (I’ve not seen any evidence of home-made card making).

How to create a virtual ‘bake off’?

  1. Choose your theme: Celebratory birthday cake; or a meal which is based on the birthday girl/boy’s favourite foods.
  2. Work out how long you are allowed to work on the/each item.
  3. Ensure everyone knows what is expected of him or her.
  4. Agree the start, and end time, including the time that you have to show the finished item. You can, if you wish, take selfies whilst preparing and baking; also take an image of the finished cake. Or even a time lapse or little video.
  5. Who is going to do the judging? (Possibly it could be the birthday- person, although if their partner is cooking personal bias could become an issue).
  6. Create a scorecard – so that everyone knows exactly the criteria on which he or she is going to be judged.  The criteria has to be virtual of course;
    • Presentation: Does the meal look edible; is it burnt? Or does it look delicious?
    • Creativity: Has the ‘chef’ used their imagination?  Have they thought about the personality of the birthday person when considering any relevant design or presentation?
    • You might also like to add extra criteria for the marking, which would be how well you dress, and photograph your finished meal.
  7. What is the prize?  A virtual meet up to eat together and a promise of a meal out to come when restrictions have eased.

Sadly, taste and smell are not shared over the Internet! Good luck and Happy Birthday!

* *Julianne Ponan is the CEO of Creative Nature Superfoods, a free-from snack brand which offers products which are healthy, delicious and free from the top 14 food allergens. The company is based in the UK but exports products worldwide