How to celebrate your birthday in lockdown: great ideas for food, drink, and experiences at home
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Most of us have had at least one lockdown birthday by this stage, or if not, been away from someone we loved celebrating theirs.
And though the hardships people have suffered over the past year extend well beyond whether or not they can have a party, nevertheless, it's still disheartening to miss out on the standard rituals or celebrations we hold to mark birthdays.
While we can't meet up with our friends and families for an in-person party, though, there are ways to ensure your birthday, or that of someone you care about, doesn't pass by without something to make it feel special. With mental health experts advising we need to stay connected via phone calls and Zoom during lockdown, marking special occasions also works to ensure those we love feel valued.
Having Zoom drinks with your friends is a great place to start, of course: setting a time and meeting up to chat and enjoy each other's company and the tipple of your choice. But beyond that, what will turn a Lockdown Birthday into something that's memorable for all the right reasons, not for being sad?
Get a great cake delivered
Think birthday, think cake, and don't go without just because you're at home. The Marks and Spencer range of personalised cakes are reliably delicious and well-priced, though our favourite is the chocolate and caramel dribble cake (£35), which is something of a show-stopper.
For lockdown 1.0, we received a personalised letterbox brownie slab from Ruby the Cake Artist via Not on the High Street. It arrived safely through our door mail-slot while we were out for our daily walk, and it was moreish – gooey and dense. At £15.99, it's a brilliant birthday wish for someone celebrating elsewhere. Buy here
Book an online experience
For anyone who has endured an awkward online work drinks party or family Zoom quiz that never seems to end, we promise there are better, genuinely fun experiences to have online.
The move of escape rooms online last year was initially blighted by technical issues, but now most hosts have had plenty of time to iron out the glitches that hold up game play. In our experience, they're terrific fun. We trailed the Panic Room Escape Room.
You and up to six of your friends (calling in from different households, of course) are posed with a series of clues. Using a mixture of logic and lateral thinking to solve them, each clue deciphered leads you closer to your ultimate goal of 'solving' the mystery of the escape room. This brilliant, 60 minute long adventure allows you at your friends to team up with Sherlock Holmes to solve a most peculiar mystery, all for only £30. Buy here
Not into mysteries? We recommend the Isolation Sensation Chocolate Truffle Kit & Workshop. You'll be sent everything you need to make your own delectable truffles, then you can book you an online class to learn how to temper chocolate, make ganache, pipe chocolate, and create truly covetable truffles. £31, buy here
If chocolate doesn't provide enough of a buzz for your birthday, the At Home Fine French Wine Tasting is fairly spectacular. 6 gorgeous French wines (150ml each) are delivered to your door. Book an online tutored wine tasting for two and take a virtual tour of France's greatest vineyards. £59.50, buy here
If none of those appeal, you can peruse the full-range of Virgin online experiences here, or Red Letter Day's excellent online experiences here.
Build your own bourbon
Love a drop of bourbon? The Home Bourbon making experience is a touch different – but really cool. You're sent 6 50ml bottles of bourbon, each with different dominant flavours, including cherry wood, to maple, wood smoke, and more.
Take your time tasting and rating them all in order of preference, then send your results off to Brain Brew. Shortly thereafter you'll receive a 200ml bottle of your own custom-blend, made to match your preferences. A hoot.
Get some at-home karaoke going
Missing the karaoke bars? You'll love the Lucky Voice Karaoke Kit – we certainly did.
This brilliant bit of business can transform any living room into a karaoke bar. A doddle to work, it comes complete with a microphone and mixer, and will turn your computer and iPad into a karaoke machine instantly.
Two things set it apart from other karaoke machines on the market – firstly, the mixer means you can up the singer's mic, or the background music, as you wish, to create the perfect sound. Secondly, Lucky Voice comes with access to a licensed karaoke bar's back catalogue of 9000 songs – many of them being chart releases and pop songs you can't get elsewhere. We love it. £60, buy here.
Kocktail Cocktail boxes
These delicious, award-winning, fresh, ready-made cocktails are quite the treat. You can now order a letterbox-ready box of four for February. We would advise you do: unlike other letterbox cocktails, the Kocktail range isn't sickly sweet, but rather perfectly balanced and sophisticated. Order one-off boxes for the big day, or an ongoing subscription for a present. Order here.
Book an online concert or talk
There's nothing wrong, of course, spending your birthday curled up watching Netflix. But if you want to do something a bit more singular, there are still plenty of exciting online talks and shows happening.
Consider signing up for a 'Night In' series with Fane, where famous authors, actors and thinkers talk through their work. Or for a concert in your living room, look at Songkick – featured live streams coming soon include Bjork and the Cinematic Orchestra.
Get a luxury food hamper
Had your fill of takeaways? A luxury food hamper will provide perfect all-day grazing on a birthday, and feel suitably special for the occasion.
For value for money, the Appleyard Luxury Hamper includes a chocolate cake, crisps, merlot and more, all for £50. Buy here.
But if you really want to mark the day in style, opt for Fortnum and Mason – nobody does indulgence better. Their Teatime Gift Box (£25) will make for an idle afternoon enjoying delectable treats, or – for full, Rabelaisian excess, opt for the Personalised Champagne box with chocolates, £76.50.
Sign up for a Masterclass
The Masterclass series of online lessons are ingenious. They've rounded up the best minds in the world to provide tutorials in their areas of expertise: writing, cooking, sports, business, and politics are all covered. You can learn about film-making from Martin Scorsese, writing from Margaret Atwood or Neil Gaiman, singing from Christina Aguilera, conservation from Jane Goodall, acting from Samuel L Jackson, pastry-making from Dominique Ansel – the list goes on.
For £14.17 per month you have access to their extensive library of tutorials. Sign up here.