Looking for tips for celebrating your child’s birthday at home?
Another year spent celebrating Norah’s birthday in Lockdown. With measures easing but social gatherings still restricted it is more than likely other spring babies will have to spend their birthdays at home too. ‘Normal’ children’s birthday parties as we used to throw them are not currently possible, so parents are trying to ensure the day is extra special. There also will not be family coming over etc so there is a potential for your child to feel a bit down. However, it isn’t all bad news, read on to see how families are making lasting memories at home and on a budget. They can also be used to make the most of an at home celebrations when COVID-19 is done!
Tips for making a lockdown children’s birthday party one to remember, for all the right reasons.
# Involve your child in cake making/menu planning.
You can buy a cake from the shop, order one from a professional baker or why not get friendly with BBC Food and bake your own. Children enjoy baking and it is a fun activity for you to do all together. Especially for kids’ birthdays it is always good to ask children what they like instead of what we think they would like. I am always happy to make a simple cake for my child, but cake decorating is not something I enjoy OR do well. Use Pinterest for inspiration. Let your little pick the party food, we had a park bench picnic and then party food that evening, little sandwiches and mini sausages!
# Spread out present time.
Give a couple of presents in the morning, do a treasure hunt for smaller gifts after lunch and then had a birthday zoom call with grandparents before dinner to open the presents from them during that call. Spreading this out really keeps the excitement going throughout the day, though make sure to wind down before bedtime.
# Deck the halls with decorations!
You can choose a theme, or why not let your child decide! choosing a theme will really help with party planning and create a focus. It could be a colour, a princess or even jungle theme with houseplants and music on Alexa! We have previously not really decorated the house, aside from balloons on birthday days. Decorations do make things magical and memorable. Fairy lights are appropriate for any celebratory occasion! If you have other children handmaking banners and flags is a nice activity to get them to join in with. There are a lot of companies that make personalised and reusable birthday decorations, with everything from banners to cake toppers. Support small businesses like The Lovely Post Co who make letterbox gifts and have a ‘Party Box’ which includes a beautiful felt crown, shooting star wand and personalised bunting. I love the handmade bunting which they make in a range of stylish designs including my favourite Easy Tiger which retails for £12.00. It is something that can be used year after year as a birthday keepsake. Gifts come beautifully boxed, wrapped and with a decorative blank label. Postage is offered free of charge on all our items (with a week turnaround for custom made items).
# Go all out with the play activities.
Make your child’s birthday feel different to other days spent at home. The whole family could dress up, have an afternoon tea or even sleep in the living room together. Grab a tent to pitch! Get those kids pop classics on and have an at home disco. You could hire a bouncy castle for the garden or soft play hire for your lounge! Companies do doorstop drop offs and everything is well sanitised. Have a treasure hunt. Grab the face paint or have a spa day. There are plenty of activities sure to spread some cheer.
# Get technical on the laptop.
Organise a Zoom party so your child can see family or friends. Fun games to play online with kids. Why not ask them to send videos, or letters as a keepsake? Hire a video call entertainer!
Make plans for when lockdown is over. None of us knows when the coronavirus pandemic is going to end but having something to look forward to will give you all something to look forward to throughout this uncertain period.
Looking for brilliant birthday present ideas to give when celebrating your child’s birthday at home?
Invest in delivery-friendly presents and pick out a special card. Plan before you shop. It is not finding gifts for my children I have a problem with – it is not overbuying, especially with the lockdown guilt. Set a budget. Ask what your little ones want or pay attention to what younger children talk about. I like to include a range – clothes, things to build, cuddly toys, books, educational toys, craft, and skill building toys. Add something for dressing up. Something practical they need. Anything that encourages physical exercise: like a ball or age-appropriate riding toys. Too many kids lack physical confidence and competence. Think about the price, how long they will last, buy from trusted brands, and look for guarantees.
TIP: Consider age before buying a gift for your child to make sure it suits their development and cognitive ability.
An eco-friendly choice. Planet Buddies have created a range of kid’s headphones, bluetooth speakers and holders for tablets based on a variety of colourful characters who represent endangered, vulnerable, and threatened species from all over the world. Their goal is to educate children about the issues that threaten animals with extinction. The packaging for each Planet Buddies product is made from 100% recyclable cardboard, with NO plastic window, and is printed with soy-based inks. ‘Olive The Owl’ 2-in-one Plush Holder and Screen Wiper (RRP £8.99) doubles up as a cuddly toy and useful multifunction mobile phone stand. Its microfibre base to wipe dirty screens. I like that Planet Buddies create toys that are designed to work with technology. The wardrobe dividers which sell at £12.99 contain 18 divider tags for clothes rails; with 8 different characters with environmental messages printed on each divider. Not just baby essentials, they have also included a blank sticker sheet, so you can continue to use the wardrobe set even when your child is older. Planet Buddies also sell cute Kids Light Switch Character Stickers for £9.99, perfect for children’s rooms. Norah loves the ‘Olive The Owl’ Bluetooth speaker that she can listen to songs on at night-time. Enjoy up to 4-hours of total playtime; 60-day standby time and 3W output power. Connect wirelessly to any Bluetooth 5.0 compatible device including tablets and smartphones. When connected to your smartphone, Olive the Owl Bluetooth (RRP £29.99) speaker allows you to answer and end calls at the touch of a button, while the built-in microphone lets you talk hands-free. Shipping is Free.
Ethical British childrenswear Frugi is one of our family favourites brands. Market leaders in organic clothing for children, babies, and adults too Frugi are driving the kids fashion industry in a new, fair trade direction. The clothes are immediately recognisable by the bright, bold patterns and designs. Made from quality super soft organic cotton and outerwear from recycled plastic bottles, they wash well and are hardwearing. In a world where we are constantly creating waste, it is great to see a company using the rubbish we throw away to make something fantastic. Norah is really tall, and I have never been disappointed by the Frugi sizing’s, being generous in sleeve length etc. Inspired by the National Trust’s ’50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ activities, Frugi have created another exclusive range for little ones to explore the outdoors. It will sell fast as Frugi clothes are super popular! The National Trust Pioneer Packaway Jacket (£29) is covered in playful Puffins and is available from age 1 – 10 years. The lightweight 100% Recycled Polyester coat folds up into its own pocket for you to easily pop into your bag. With a waterproof rating of 3000HH, fully taped seams and Fluorocarbon free finish to help prevent stains it is perfect coat for exploring. The bright yellow trims on the elastic cuffs and reflective back print helps parents spy your little one. Pair with a Pack A Snack Lunch Bag for £15 with a foil lining to help keep food fresh. The large main pocket and front snack pocket makes it ideal for school or nursery. The wipe clean bag has a useful carry handle and cloud name tag. Looking forward to sunnier days? The gender-neutral collection also boasts a bright Sid Applique T-Shirt from £17.00 and Reversible Shorts from £23.00 made from GOTS certified Organic Cotton Interlock for sizes 0-3 months to 9-10 years! Ages 0-4 years have popper fastenings at neck and elasticated waists for easy dressing. Orders over £45 qualify for free 2nd Class Royal Mail delivery. Postage costs under are £2.50 2nd and £3.50 1st.
- Grab a GUND.
GUND is America’s oldest and most prestigious soft toy company, founded in 1898. Known for their quality, soft, huggable plush designs and gifts, the award-winning bears and toys appeal to all ages, from infants up, perfect for play, collecting and cuddling. Shortlisted in the 2018 Made For Mums Toy Awards the My Magical Light & Sound Unicorn with her rainbow mane and soft fur delighted Norah! Retailing for £38 this animated unicorn stands 54.0cm high and is CE marked. Whilst it is not large enough to be annoying to store it is bigger than Norah’s other soft toys which she LOVES. Pet her back to make the wings light up and for sounds. It is a magical effect. Batteries come with the toy (it is activated with a removable tab) and as a parent I like that the sparkling sounds are gentle and short. The toy is surface-washable. Ages 3+. Quality wise I am pleased as there is no sign of the mane shedding. In a time when children need extra cuddles and comfort a soft toy is the perfect gift. UK Orders under £40 will be charged at £3.95. Orders over £40 to a UK address will be shipped second class post with no delivery charge.
Alex and Alexa.
Alex and Alexa are another brand that features heavily on the blog because we love their high-quality products. Shop and buy with confidence at the Multi award winning online shop, the global style destination for kids since 2007. The leading e-tailer does not just specialise in children’s fashion for babies all the way up to teens, but also toys, school goods and homeware. Shop an amazing selection of children’s gifts from STOY. The Scandinavian brand believes play is essential to every child’s development and each toy is beautifully crafted, safe, sustainable, and built to withstand the test of time. Norah at three is not quite ready for a bike, but a fab alternative was the My First Vintage Kick Bike which I chose in Pear. The vintage, minimalist design is ADORABLE. It is suitable for children 24 plus months and helps with balance, strength, coordination and gross motor skills. The kick bike has a sturdy steel frame but is lightweight so your little one can lift it themselves. It has handles with good grip and I like how the footplate is shaped to help support a little foot! Thinking about safety the bike meets safety standard EN71 and is CE marked. At £42 it is a great buy; you can adjust the handle height and toddlers learn to steer by moving the handles. You can also buy accessories such as helmets and wicker baskets! STOY also sells a gorgeous range of pastel toned wooden toys. Solid, lasting and stylishly traditional, we love wooden toys that inspire imaginative games and cooperation. A modern take on a vintage toy, remember simplicity is important. The STOY Toss Play Set is a flashback from my childhood. Lightweight, easy to construct, have fun indoors or outdoors! Safety tested and CE marked I like that the rings are fibre and wood rather than single use plastic. Retailing for £25 this toy develops your child´s reactions and fine motor skills. UK and International delivery is free.
Customers looking for a wide range of educational toys and musical instruments rely on Halilit. Award winning products are manufactured from non-toxic materials, comply with relevant safety regulations, are attractively packaged and in the case of musical products are accurately tuned. Halilit The Kids Band Gift Set retails at £24.99. Suitable from 2+ years this fantastic first 6 piece set of instruments includes a Jingle Bell, Giant Train Whistle, Baby Tambourine, Twist and Shake Rainboshaker and a play along music CD. I like that the instruments are varied – each toy makes a different sound, lightweight, sturdy and colourful. They have been carefully designed to be attractive, tactile, and to be easily grasped by small hands. Children are naturally curious and will enjoy exploring the different sounds, getting creative and developing their fine/gross motor skills. Babies and toddlers who are exposed to music perform better in areas such as language development, speech, listening and reading skills. I was comforted to see the EU’s “CE” safety mark on both the box and in relief on each individual rattle. Mainland UK Shipping is £3.95.
One of the biggest independent retailers of baby products in the UK, both online and on the high street Kiddies Kingdom is a store I have ordered from frequently and has a very user-friendly website. The The Chicco Jump & Fit Hopscotch Playmat, available at Kiddies Kingdom (£25.99) is a cleverly designed activity toy to encourage toddlers to get moving and counting – it is a modern version of the classic children’s game hopscotch. The only parental construction you must do is add the stickers to the ball and batteries are not included (3xAA). Suitable for indoors and outdoors in summer, the mat is just the right size for a younger child and can be rolled up and stored easily. It is great for coordination and I like that the mat has 2 fun game modes: with the coin for the classic play (with the music tones and sounds of animals to recognize) or the nine-sided cube illustrates various activities and exercises to do for the fitness mode. Early walkers can just toddle across it and enjoy the sound motivation. It is easily wipe clean material. The game is very stimulating thanks to the lights, colours and sounds so in terms of sensory development it is a winner as well as motor skills, etc. The only thing I would suggest for improvement is a non-slip backing if you are using it on a wooden floor like ours. Depending on where you buy from Please note that the item is delivered without packaging and with the shipping label containing the bar code glued on the package. On a positive note, I love that Kiddies Kingdom have an option you can Price Match products with + 15% difference and they offer Next Day delivery.
Learning Resources® have been helping parents and teachers encourage generations of children learn through play for over 35 years. As a pre-schooler parent I am so impressed with the versatile range of award-winning educational toys sold. Learning Resources versatile products include learning activity sets, manipulatives and games that build foundational skills in all subject areas through exploration, creativity, imagination and fun. If like me, you get a bit lost in choosing what toys match your little one’s developmental stage then the website has a section where you can receive toy suggestions by age. I chose the Sorting Surprise Pirate Treasure game which retails for £20. The multifunctional pirate-themed toy is great for focusing on colour identification skills, counting, shape recognition and developing fine motor skills using keys to open the chests. The set includes 5 treasure chests, 5 keys, 5 surprise treasures and 15 coloured coins and is perfect for boys or girls. There are so many activities you can do with just the one set for 3–7-year-olds. I was worried the trunks would be too big and awkward to store but they are lightweight and small hand sized.
Another great Maths game is the Smart Scoops™ Activity Set (for 3–6-year-olds) that is also a lot of fun for imaginative role play. I like that you can vary activities to develop basic skills such as sorting and counting, colour recognition by adding ice cream to bowls and for older children there are 23 double sided activity cards for basic addition. Norah liked stacking/balancing a tower of coloured ice cream. The only thing she struggled with is that the ice cream toppings are small and don’t ‘click’ together so can fall off easily which frustrated her. If you are looking for large play food for a toddler, this is not going to be a good fit for you. I like that the set (RRP £20) Includes ice cream themed container for easy storage (13.75cm W x 10cm H x 8.75cm D). Priced at £13 is the Playfoam® Shape & Learn Alphabet Set is perfect for early literacy learning. Children can use the eight colourful squashy Playfoam bricks to shape onto the lowercase alphabet letter cards. For me this had so many ticks as a product, the foam is tactile, easy to clean up, does not shed or stain. The cards are large and have instructions for shaping letters, you can also do it with fingers and use them as flashcards. Encourage older children to spell put their name with the cards. All of the sets have Multilingual activity guides and the toys are such vibrant and bright colours. The standard delivery charge for orders placed within the UK is £4.95. Orders over £50 qualify for free delivery. They also offer lots of free activity sheets!
Fall in love with Yorkshire-based country wear brand, Glencroft, which have a gorgeous range of luxury products for children. A small family-run business based in a 200-year-old converted cow barn they make sustainable, British-made clothing and accessories from natural products including sheepskin, wool and Harris Tweed, including Yorkshire-made flat caps and 100% British Wool jumpers / cardigans, to stylish sheepskin rugs made from British breeds. Established in 1987 products are still hand-finished by the 77-year-old owner, Richard. COVID-19 has all the more taught me to respect family companies and smaller high street shops so make sure you remember this when birthday buying. Being bought up on a sheep farm I love wool as a responsibly sourced quality material. It is soft, warm and honest, no two products are exactly the same and they are made to last. Pick the British Wool Children’s Tractor Jumper (RRP £42.95) a super cute, chunky knit 100% wool navy jumper made in the North of England with a bright red tractor design. Perfect for girls or boys the sizing is generous, it comes in three sizing’s (S – 12-18 months | M – 2-3 years | L – 4-5 years) and I would say if in doubt always size up. Wool is a fantastic material for children’s jumpers as it is warm but breathable, natural, biodegradable and odour resistant. For those not familiar with wool, it will smell like sheep, in a good way. Tip: hand wash the wool garment with a little white distilled vinegar to soften it. Pair up with the cosiest of slippers, beautifully crafted British Made Pink Children’s Moccasins. Made from genuine lambswool lined calfskin, they are available in every children’s size from 0-6 months to junior size 2. I love the vintage look and that they have a soft sole for movement but are also structured and fit snuggly to support growing feet. For £19.95 they are the perfect combination of functional and fashionable.
I hope you enjoyed our birthday party tips and the wonderful gift ideas, perfect for 3-5 year olds.
#AD. We were gifted the products for the purposes of review in this Guide.