1.  Throw a virtual birthday party.
Just because you’re celebrating at a distance doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate together. When you bring everyone together online, you can share in the fun and add a few surprises.

  • Consider having a theme. From Hawaiian shirts to sports teams to your loved one’s favorite hobby, you can make everything from invitations to attire match the theme.
  • Send invitations in advance. Make an invitation for free with PowerPoint online to match your theme, or use a ready-made one from Evite.com.
  • Connect everyone using Skype. For video calling with friends and family, Skype makes it easy to stay in touch. It’s free to use for audio and video calls for up to 50 people, plus you can share photos, videos, and documents right from the Skype window. Get to know Skype or download Skype for free.
  • Set the same background. Surprise the birthday honoree with a custom background you create for them. Use PowerPoint for free on the web and create a slide with a funny photo, city skyline, name, or whatever you want. Save that slide as an image (.bmp, .jpg, or .png format) and then send the file to the party attendees to set as their background for the birthday party call. 
  • Create a birthday card for people to sign. Browse our card collection to find a birthday card that’s just right, then save it to OneDrive for people to sign virtually. Help inspire them to get creative with what they write. For example, if your friend is turning 40, suggest that family and friends contribute words of wisdom, personal comments, or favorite/funniest memories so you have 40 items for the card. Learn how to share OneDrive files and folders.

2.  Pick a party activity.
Want to bring people together, but need help thinking of what you can do or what kind of party to have? Try one of these fun activities for both online and at-home parties.

  • Have a party in Minecraft. Distance doesn’t matter when you’re in a shared world! Learn how to set up Minecraft so people can play together.
  • Play birthday Jeopardy. If you and your friends enjoy trivia, throw a birthday quiz night over Skype! Use this Jeopardy-style quiz template (use with PowerPoint for free on the web) and surprise them with a quiz about your group’s adventures and inside jokes.
  • Take a virtual zoo tour. Pick a tour from our list of adventurous zoo tours and explore together.
  • Decorate a cake together. Head into the kitchen and get creative with frosting and sprinkles.  Work together on one cake at home or make it a friendly competition with a friend via a Skype video call! Share an inspiration picture and a recipe and have everyone prepare their cake in advance. Then, set a timer and have everyone decorate their cake as you talk. The cake that looks most like the inspiration photo wins bragging rights, and everyone gets a delicious treat. 
  • Have a gift-opening party. If family and friends have already sent cards and gifts, open them while on a Skype call with the senders to share in the excitement.

3.  Send a personalized birthday message from a celebrity.
For a customized surprise, visit Cameo to have the birthday person’s favorite celebrity send them a custom greeting.

4.  Create a birthday slideshow.
Put together a birthday photo album with this template and PowerPoint for free on the web. When you save the album to OneDrive, you can then share a link to the album so other people can add in their favorite photos.

5.  Celebrate locally.
Get the excitement of seeing friends and family while practicing social distancing with one of these celebration ideas.

  • Organize a car parade. Map out a favorite drive, pick a time to meet, and have friends and family follow the route in their own cars. Bonus points for decorated vehicles!
  • Collect birthday greetings. Leave a box or basket by your front door and have people drop off birthday cards and notes. Or set out poster board and a marker or two and have visitors add their birthday wishes.

6.  Make a birthday full of flavor.
Help the birthday person’s stomach and taste buds sing with a tasty celebration.

  • Bring the restaurant home. If you can’t go to a restaurant for your loved one’s birthday, order a takeout meal from their favorite restaurant or recreate their favorite dish at home. Then, set the table with your fanciest dishes and use a template to print the menu and make it feel special.
  • Enjoy the cake. Not usually a baker or don’t have fancy decorations? Sometimes less is more. Find an easy recipe to make a cake, and surprise everyone with your newfound culinary skills. Or, have a cake delivered to your loved one, wherever they are.