9 memorable lockdown birthday ideas

"Одна законченная результативная задача стоит полусотни полузаконченных задач." Малкольм Форбс ©

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Seeing friends and family, heading to the pub, dancing until your feet hurt – none of that’s possible right now. And while that’s a sad and difficult thing every day, it can feel especially bleak on a birthday. But with a little ingenuity and some judicious use of online ordering, celebrating during these strange times can still tick almost all of the boxes, from copious cake and Champagne to a dinner à deux to remember. So, whether it’s someone you live with who’s celebrating, a loved one on the other side of the country, or it’s your birthday and you just fancy pushing the boat out solo, here’s how to do it in style.

  • The decorations

    A lone candle in a cupcake isn’t going to cut it right now – you need some properly cheering birthday decorations, and preferably ones that are going to look the business over Zoom. Make Ginger Ray your first stop – the stylish online party shop has launched a Virtual Isolation Birthday Party section, with rose-gold ‘Happy Birthday’ balloon bunting and confetti balloons. For a plastic-free but still festive alternative, The Party Company’s biodegradable pom-poms are brilliant – hang them in threes around the room.

  • The flowers

    There are few better ways to make a day feel special than by adorning the house with flowers. Go for a giant bouquet that takes up half the room or multiple elegant stems. We love this bright bunch of Pink Folly bouvardia from Flowerbx (pictured), or the elegant, deep purple Lilac Dust Vanda Cut orchid, while classic Mondial roses are always an elegant option.

  • 9 memorable lockdown birthday ideas

    The fizz

    A birthday celebration calls for bubbles, obviously – but even on the off chance that you’ve managed to bag a supermarket delivery slot, it’s well worth looking at independents for a couple of special bottles. Hackney Road’s Sager + Wilde has launched an online shop and will deliver free anywhere in the UK for six bottles or more; the extensive wine list includes pét-nat (pétillant naturel, the hipster sparkling wine that’s actually made using an ancient method) and Champagne. Shoreditch wine bar and importer Passione Vino also offers UK-wide delivery, with plenty of well-priced superior prosecco on offer. And if you want to support English winemakers, Nyetimber is unbeatable (and delivers cases).

  • 9 memorable lockdown birthday ideas

    The cake

    Colin the Caterpillar is the traditional choice here, but without an office full of colleagues to share him with it’s more fun to think outside the (cake) box. A collection of smaller bakes is arguably more lockdown-friendly than a single cake: B is for Brownie’s single-origin chocolate wares fit through the letterbox and are perfect for stacking into a pyramid and dusting with icing sugar. Or order a pull-apart cake made of individual Chelsea buns from famous Cambridge bakery Fitzbillies. To take shop-bought cake to the next level, Camden nitro ice-cream parlour Chin Chin has launched an online shop stocked with handmade marshmallow fluff, gold chocolate popping candy and much more (they also make special-occasion cakes; drop them a line to find out more). Fancy baking your own showstopper? Sign up for Puff the Bakery’s online pastry course, which is taking Instagram by storm.


    It’s a given that people should be spoiled by friends and family on their birthday, and a box of their favourite snacks and self-care treats is always a safe bet. Etsy has lots of birthday hampers, including this Sweet Nibbles box of Yankee candles, chocolate, popcorn, face masks and Body Shop products, and this wellbeing package to bolster spirits (and immune systems) with lemon and ginger tea, meditation incense sticks, bath bombs, succulents and an oil diffuser with eucalyptus, jasmine, sandalwood and lavender oils. For a more personal gift, Parcel (pictured) offers a build-your-own option where you can pick items such as face masks, rose-quartz crystals, cosy socks, reusable coffee cups, sweets, candles and even a bespoke box filled with Polaroid-style photographs. Pique Nique offers a birthday breakfast hamper to brighten up someone’s morning with a box of treats including DIY Bellinis, iced coffee, freshly baked pastries, blueberry pancakes, a choice of bagels, banana and chocolate cake, party hats and a bouquet of flowers.

  • 9 memorable lockdown birthday ideas

    The cocktails

    Planning a living-room disco? Bring the bar home. Nio’s letterbox cocktails flat-pack the classics for UK-wide delivery, and you can build your own box of favourites (the Milano Torino is a refreshing choice). One of the best pre-mixed Negronis on the market right now is made by London distillery Sacred, which will have a bottle with you within a few days wherever you are in the country, and East London bar Hacha is sending bottled Margaritas all over the UK. The Drinks Drop delivers expertly mixed cocktails from big-name bars in London and Manchester: think Dandy, Nine Lives and Cottonopolis, while Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen’s Empirical Spirits dispatches its super-cool spirits and mixers internationally. If you live in North London and are looking to support a local venture, try newly opened neighbourhood bar Crossroads: an innovative, zero-waste drinking den in Camden that has launched a lockdown delivery service (pictured) f, cycling cocktails across London. Try the Perfect Lady for a smooth blend of gin, olive leaf, nectarine and oolong or the Cairo for a fresh mix of vodka, sencha, melon and soda. Each bottle is 500ml (so makes around five cocktails).

  • 9 memorable lockdown birthday ideas

    The dinner

    Take a break from playing detective with the contents of your vegetable delivery box and send for reinforcements. For carnivores, Goodman, Beast, Zelman Meats and Burger & Lobster have joined forces to launch a selection of feasting boxes full of steaks, beef short ribs, luxe burgers and king crab legs; Prime Feast delivers anywhere within a 30-mile radius from Goodman’s Mayfair restaurant. For DIY fondue kits with a bottle of wine included, plus carefully chosen British cheese and charcuterie selections, pay The Cheese Bar’s (pictured) online shop a visit – it ships all over the UK several times a week. And for a heartwarming at-home Italian experience, try Lina Stores’ delightful fresh pasta and pizza kits (NB, it also has prosecco, Sicilian cannoli and Baci brownies).


    Depending on how many people are in your household (and how competitive they are), games are often a way to get the party going – and no one’s stopping you adding a drinking element. For those who enjoy a bit of friendly rivalry, try Settlers of Catan, a trading and building game where manipulation skills are just as important as your ability to plan. Linkee (pictured) is another reliably high-blood-pressure game, where trivia boffins prevail but risk-takers are rewarded: answer four questions then work out what links the answers to win the round. If slow and steady is more your style, this 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of 54 inspirational women including Frida Kahlo, Oprah Winfrey and Jane Austen might do the trick.

  • 9 memorable lockdown birthday ideas

    The treats

    What’s a birthday without a sugar high? Graze with impunity until bedtime on some sweet treats. Cookie whiz Blondies Kitchen is delivering around the country, and will ice your giant chocolate-chip offering with a personalised birthday message. Babelle’s golden, squidgy, rum-soaked canelés are a London food-market favourite, and it’s offers UK-wide delivery.

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