My daughter Clementine is turning four and being a party planner, I had everything ready to go from the backdrop to the cake and of course the entertainment. But then the coronavirus hit. We had to cancel the princess, my backdrop was no longer going to make delivery and most devastatingly, her MiMi and PawPaw would have to stay put in the Poconos. I had to pivot and salvage what I could to plan a quarantine birthday.

All Photos by Michelle Shuey

We switched to a virtual princess playdate. My daughter loves everything princess and I had booked Cinderella to make an appearance at her party. Obviously, Cinderella would need to stay put in her castle with Prince Charming but I found a local company that was doing virtual playdates for birthdays for $69.99. For 20 minutes, Cinderella will video call in, sing songs and interact with Clementine. Entertainment done.

For the cake, Betty Crocker to the rescue. I was able to find a funfetti box at my local grocery store along with a tub of icing. My daughter and I love to bake together and this year, we made her birthday cake together. An activity and birthday dessert in one is a win-win in my book.

Lastly are the decorations. There will be no dessert table this year or fancy tablescape. We all have balloons leftover from past parties and mine are in that junk drawer I have been promising to organize. I am going to blow up with air and spread around the living room where her playdate will take place. I will also replicate a balloon drop with a clear trash bag taped to our ceiling stuffed with balloons and held up with painter’s tape.

The final touch will be a homemade banner out of construction paper. I printed out princess coloring book pictures and pasted onto the construction paper cut in a triangle shape. I will have Clementine color the princess pictures then we can string together and hang from our mantle.

We are in uncharted territory and parents are becoming teachers, sports coaches, craft instructors and maintaining day jobs. To make this day special, I have had to be creative and repurpose what was already in my house. We are very lucky to have our health and a home to quarantine in. This will be one unusual fourth birthday but all my daughter will remember is being together and feeling special and isn’t that why we throw parties to begin with?

Michelle Shuey is the founder and chief party planner at The Effortless Affair, a full-service event planning company serving North Jersey. The Effortless Affair specializes in children’s parties from gender reveals to sweet sixteens.