Making The Most Of A Lockdown Birthday

Like most others in the world right now, we’ve had some plans that have had to be cancelled/postponed due to Covid19. For us this was the joint celebration of my Mum & Dad’s 50th birthdays. Our original plans were to go away with the extended family to a lovely house in North Yorkshire where we would spend the weekend eating, drinking, playing games, and bubbling away in the hot tub. This had been booked for a long time and I had got my party planning hat on to make this the best birthday weekend possible. I had the cake planned out, the decorations and exactly where I was going to put these in the house along with games to play throughout the day. We also were going to have some chefs come in and cook us a 3 course meal on the Saturday night which would be my Dad’s actual 50th birthday.

When we found out this was going to be cancelled, we had the opportunity to rebook, and if by chance the only free weekend available was the weekend of my Mum’s 50th which was just perfect. It meant the whole reason behind going away wasn’t lost and we would still be able to celebrate and all my ideas I had I could still utilise. We have since been notified that this has also now had to be cancelled too. We don’t have the option to cancel but only to rebook so while we are planning to go next year, the whole aspect and reasoning behind it has been lost so we are a little down beat about that.

As disappointing as this all is, we didn’t let this defeat us and made my Dad’s 50th birthday the best we possibly could and I think it’s safe to say, he really enjoyed it! I want to share this with you all if any of you are struggling and need some inspiration.

So the first thing I had to do was to find a new cake to bake. I had one all planned out but as we weren’t going to be celebrating with the whole family, it was going to be a lot of cake for just four of us to eat so I got straight onto Pinterest to find some inspiration. It didn’t take me long to find the ‘toilet roll cake’ and oh my god, it was just perfect. With the whole stock piling of toilet rolls that happened (still really not sure what that was all about!?!?) and along with the fact his birthday had really gone down the sh*tter, I was adamant this is what I wanted to make and I have to say… I think we nailed it. We went for a triple chocolate sponge which I followed this recipe and then I just made a vanilla buttercream to place between each layer and also to crumb coat. We then decorated the cake with fondant and made some little buns to accompany the cake perfectly.

I am SO pleased with the results!! As the cake was still way too big for just the four of us, my dad did the rounds and did a social distance drop off at houses with some cake and to say thank you. I’ve had so much positive feedback on the look and taste of the cake so I am putting that down as a win.

Next up was to try plan some surprises for the day. My brother and sister in law helped so much with this but we managed to get in contact with family, my dads work colleagues and friends and got them all to send a small video just saying Happy Birthday and my god, the effort that some people put into this was just fab and I can’t thank them enough for taking part. I compiled all the videos into one and after we’d finished breakfast and got ready for the day, we sat down and played the video on the TV. It was such a highlight of the day and really funny to watch. The best thing is you have this to keep and can rewatch over and over. We timed this video to end with my nephew (my dads grandson) saying Happy Birthday and then the doorbell rang with my nephew stood on the doorstep with a hamper for him. This did have to be a socially distanced visit but my dad hadn’t see him in 8 weeks so it was nice to be able to speak to him in person. I’d also arranged from my other brother to come over with his granddaughter and grandson later on in the day so he got to see the whole family in person even if it had to be from a distance.

The area we live in has hit hard with takeaways closing. It seems that every Domino’s in the UK has remained open except all the ones closest to us. Not that I am suggesting we were having a Domino’s for my Dad’s 50th but we didn’t have much choice in getting his favourite take away in and obviously we aren’t able to go sit in his favourite restaurant or anything. So we did the next best thing, for breakfast we did a bottomless brunch where we had Bucks Fizz, some breakfast bombs, and some pastries, we had this nearer to 12 o’clock. We had snacks throughout the whole day and for dinner we did a buffet of his favourite buffet items.

As a very last minute decision we decided to do 50 for 50. This was 50 gifts for turning 50. As we decided about a week before his actual birthday, we didn’t have long to come up with 50 ideas and only really had the option of our Sainsbury’s home delivery shopping that was arriving and Amazon Prime to try and get the gifts. Now I know this sounds an excessive amount of gifts but it wasn’t anything extravagant and did include the main gifts we had all got him too. Example of what we got were his favourite snacks (chocolates, nuts, sweets, etc), some alcohol (beers & wine), some joke presents like a box of paper clips – to hold it altogether, some post it notes – so he never forgets, some deep heat – for the inevitable aches and pains. We basically ended up wrapping our whole Sainsbury’s shop but these weren’t his main gifts from us and were just a little extra touch. We made him unwrap these throughout the day rather than all in one to try and fit them in to certain moments. I also picked up a lottery ticket for the Saturday draw. I can confirm we didn’t get a single number and will be returning to work.

Then it came to decorating the house. I’d originally bought these decorations to decorate the house we were meant to go to but as that wasn’t happening anymore I didn’t want to waste these decorations and decided to use them in the house and I am so glad I did. I had bought a balloon arch kit and some letter balloons from Amazon. The balloon arch kit did come with instructions which I had sadly thrown away so was kind of just winging it on how to actually put this together but I think the end result came together quite well. When my dad came in and saw all the effort in this it actually reduced him to tears (happy ones of course). He said he felt so loved and cared for with this gesture and it does really look effective.

I had found on Etsy some print out game sheets that you can do based on the year 1970 which is his birth year. These consist of a ‘This or That’ which is what does the birthday honouree prefer, a guess the price of the item in 1970, a guess the celebrity who was also born in the year 1970 and a few more things. These were fab to play and if I had the time, I would have come up with a prize for the winners but they were still fun to play without the prizes.

After all the presents were opened, we turned the sideboard into a bar to continue the celebrations into the night.

One of the presents wrapped up in his brown paper was a beer pong set. He has never played it before and has always wanted to. As we have an extendable kitchen table it was perfect for this and we played this late on in the evening and probably ended up drinking a lot more than we should!

We finished the night a little bit more than tipsy and cracked out the PS2 and 80’s Singstar. Let’s just say it’s a good job we lived in a detached house because the neighbours would not have appreciated those noises at 2am.

I think the best thing about the whole day, is everything that was done had thought behind it, while the 50 presents wrapped up weren’t the most extravagant there was thought behind them all. It was all really heartfelt and my dad appreciated it so much, he even went as far as to say it was one of his favourite birthdays. It really is true when people say, it’s the little things that mean the most!

I hope if you are trying to celebrate or help someone celebrate a birthday during these times, this may have given you some inspiration as to what you could do!

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