Drive by Birthday Party: How to Celebrate During COVID-19

Drive-by Birthday Party Yard Letters
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Life has been flipped upside-down for all of us during the COVID-19 quarantine. Businesses are closing and the government is issuing stimulus packages as the unemployment rate begins to skyrocket. While many people share the fear of an unpredictable future, the only way to combat the virus is to remain in isolation to help flatten the curve.

The mandate for us to live in solitude has crumbled many businesses, the entertainment industry, professional sports associations, and events – big and small – all the way down to children’s birthday parties.

Looking for drive by birthday party ideas during the COVID-19 pandemic? We’ve put together a collection of the best drive by birthday ideas and tips so that parents across the country can still throw their kids and loved ones a memorable birthday experience while still practicing social distancing.

Drive by Birthday Parties Help with Social Distancing

A new phenomenon suitable for all ages has swept the globe as we have been secluded from our friends and loved ones for the past few weeks. Parents especially are doing everything they can to provide their children some normalcy – or at the very least, help them open presents, eat cake and ice cream – and have the birthday party they have been looking forward to all year.


Well, moms and dads across the United States have been throwing a unique style of party for their children to help practice social distancing – deeming the “Drive by” or “Drive-thru” birthday party.

What Is A Drive by Birthday Party?

Instead of the traditional Spider-Man or Barbie decorated tables and streamers, this reverse-parade style party involves decorating your house and front lawn to announce to the world that it is someone’s birthday! This allows for not only friends and family to celebrate with you, but also your neighbors and any car that passes by your house. The idea is that passing vehicles will receive the message from your decorated yard and honk their horns in order to give their birthday wishes. Others may walk by or drop off presents while remaining at a safe distance. If only they would all bring presents!

How to Throw a Drive by Birthday Party

Although it isn’t quite the same as a normal children’s birthday party with friends and activities like a pinata or pin the tail on the donkey, a drive-thru birthday party can be a just as fun and memorable experience!

What do you need?

The most popular party supply for these social distance parties are happy birthday yard letters made from durable corrugated plastic. This is the same material used for such products as cardboard cutouts. These yard signs are available in letter sets to spell, “Happy Birthday!” and include a few extra emoji symbols like balloons and cupcakes to give your front lawn some extra flair. They come in pink, blue, red, or rainbow sets – a wide variety of colors to suit any little tot on their special day.

Drive-by Birthday Letters
Buy On Amazon Prime for $69.99

Custom yard letters are also available – in which you can specify which letters you need to display a message of your choice.

Each individual sign letter is made from 4mm corrugated plastic that is weather-resistant, UV-protected, and includes two types of stakes that fits the shape of the sign for guaranteed stability. Stay away from regular cardboard as it is flimsy and will wilt in the rain or morning dew.

Additional supplies consist of vinyl banners, cardboard cutouts, inflatables, balloons, flags, window decals, and more!

Drive By Birthday Ideas

Here are 10 quarantine birthday ideas to make a social distancing party more special and unique:

1. Send Out Drive By Birthday Invites

Get creative and customize invites online or in the mail for the drive by birthday parade. Send the invitations out to friends and family and let them know the time of the drive by birthday party so that everyone can drive by around the same time. This way you do not have to worry about guests driving by at different times throughout the day. Invitations are also a great way to notify your guests of a theme, whether you will be accepting gifts, and any other special activity occurring during the party.

2. Have a Birthday Theme

Even though participants are driving by your house rather than staying for a day long party, there can still be a theme. Include the theme in costumes, balloons, yard signs, and party favors. You can also style your yard letters to suit the party by adding emojis that match the party theme or personalizing a custom message that incorporates the theme.

3. Decorate Your Lawn and Front Door

Extend the birthday motif to your lawn and front door with other decorations to match your yard letters. Create custom birthday banners to hang on the front door or on the porch, include colorful balloons and streamers, etc. Decorating your entire yard will make the party more noticeable and fun for the attendees and it will feel more like a traditional party, which is important if it is for children.

4. Get Participants to Decorate Their Cars

People driving by your house can also participate with decorations and a birthday theme by decorating their cars. Many party stores include products that can be put on cars, such as washable window markers, streamers that can hang from the doors and side windows, and removable letters that can spell out a special message on the side of the car.

5. Create Sidewalk Art with Chalk Designs

Involve children in the décor by having them draw pictures and spread a message to drivers on the sidewalk with chalk. This will give kids something to do while they are waiting for the guests to drive by and makes the party more personal for them. If you have a theme, incorporate it in the drive by birthday chalk designs.

6. Set Aside Some Cake for Guests

Even though people are not stopping their cars and coming inside, you can still set up a table with cake that guests can reach from their cars. The cake can be decorated with the honoree’s name and have the birthday party theme in the design, just like before the quarantine. This is a great addition if people driving by have kids in the backseats of their cars.

7. Include a Gift and Goodie Bag Table

Aside from cake, a table can also have a station to drop off gifts and give goodie bags to the participants at a drive by birthday party. Make sure the table is reachable from a car window so that guests do not have to get out of their car. These stations can be on separate tables, but if they are on the same table, make sure there is a clear distinction between where people leave gifts and where the goodie bags are to avoid confusion.

8. Incorporate Music into the Celebration

Create a strong party atmosphere by having the birthday boy or girl play their favorite song on loudspeakers as guests drive by. You can also ask each guest to play their own song from their cars as they drive by in honor of the birthday boy or girl. Just because this is not the customary party does not mean you cannot include party traditions.

9. Have a Virtual Social Distancing Birthday

In addition to having guests drive by your house, you can also host an online gathering for them with video chat sites like Zoom or Google Hangouts. This will let the birthday honoree greet and talk with their guests rather than just seeing them from their car. You can also include birthday decorations in the background of the chat to keep the birthday atmosphere. For adults, this is a good way to socialize, have a few drinks, and catch up with friends and family while practicing social distancing!

10. Drive the Honoree Around Instead

Instead of having people drive by your house, you can drive the birthday boy or girl to different houses of friends and loved ones. The participants can decorate their front lawns instead and have a table for gifts and treats. For some people, this drive by birthday method is more convenient.

11. Utilize Cardboard Cutouts for Absent Guests

Do you have friends and family members you wish you could celebrate with, but you have to socially distance from them? A fun idea is to get a photo of their whole body or just their head printed on a cardboard cutouts or big head cutouts. Contact them on the phone and then, it is like they are there with you. Cardboard cutouts are also great to use for when you are taking pictures of the special occasion for social media or photo albums.

Drive-thru Birthday Signs

Drive by Birthday Parties in the News

The media has gone into a frenzy about people missing connection with their loved ones and peers. According to a NY Times article, Dr. Xygalatas, an anthropology and psychology professor at the University of Connecticut, states that, “When you can’t have the celebration you usually have, you are missing the human connection.” He continues to say that “People are finding ways to make up for it, synchronizing activities so it feels like we are one.” These drive-thru birthday parties are an attempt to unify communities all over the world while practicing social-distancing.

The article features different parties of this fashion such as a 6-year old boy from New York whose family and community presented him with a “walk-by” birthday party on his special day.

Another social-distancing party was conducted in the form of a “stand-by” birthday party involved a New York teacher who’s coworkers stood six feet apart outside of a building to wish her a happy birthday.

From the same report, a 35 year-old celebrated her birthday with seven of her friends that remained parked in their cars outside her home.

A News Break article shares the heart-felt story of Ohio police and firefighters holding a drive by birthday party for a 12-year old with cerebral palsy. They provided cake, presents, and sang to the boy. The party was in the style of a parade involving fire engines and police vehicles.

12 Year-Old New York Boy with Cerebral Palsy Celebrates Birthday with Drive by Birthday

Drive by Birthday Parties in Australia

Lastly, a 7-year old girl in Taunton, Massachusetts received one of the biggest drive by birthday parties on April Fools Day involving over 30 vehicles and approximately 50 cupcakes for the attendees claims an article from the Taunton Gazette. The cupcakes were distributed to the participants in plastic bag while keeping a safe distance of 6 feet away from each other.

People are going stir-crazy and trying to find ways to socialize without close-quarter contact. Although we are longing for human connection and socialization it is imperative to continue to practice social distancing to keep COVID-19 under control. With selfless acts like these, we still can continue to celebrate the birthdays of children and loved ones during this time of crisis.

Drive by Parties for Any Occasion

In addition to a drive by birthday party, these corrugated plastic yard letters can be used to celebrate any special occasion “drive by” style. Popular occasions to display these yard signs are graduations, anniversaries, welcoming home family & friends in the military, expecting parents of a new baby boy or girl, or anything you’d like to congratulate someone for!

Other Useful Signage During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Business owners all of the world have turned to advertising signage to keep their businesses afloat during these unprecedented times. Feather flags with messages such as “TAKE OUT”, “WE DELIVER”, and “CURBSIDE PICKUP” have become useful tools for businesses to stay operational by advertising these limited services during the quarantine. A frame sidewalk signs and window decals are another popular displays used to let the public know about changing business hours and services.

We Will Get Through This Together

Drive-thru birthday parties are only one of the ways that we have adapted and came together to help mitigate the spreading of COVID-19. Streaming concerts, teacher parades, telecommuting, and video chats are other notable efforts to help flatten the curve. Everyone can play their part by practicing social distancing while following the health safety laws and best practices. We will get through this.

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