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My birthday fell on a Saturday this year, which is exciting because it lent me the opportunity to make weekend plans and party without having to worry about being exhausted at work the next day. Plans were made, birthday outfits bought, and my liver was prepared for the impending tequila consumption. And then – the pandemic struck. Out went the night in D.C. partying with as many people as possible, and in came the social distancing quarantine. 

I live alone. Like, alone alone. My cat ran away last summer (Bella if you’re reading this please come back) and my family lives in Pennsylvania. So how was I going to celebrate my birthday, cat-less and on my own?

Well, it happened. And let me tell you, it was GREAT. I cried happy tears the next day because it was one of the most memorable birthdays I’ve ever had. 

So, without further ado, allow me to tell you how to properly party during a pandemic. 

1.  Plan a birthday meal – it can be whenever. Pick your favorite mealtime and have at it. I’m lucky to be stuck in a building with some awesome neighbors, who have been safely quarantining for weeks alongside me. Three of us got together for a 1 p.m. lunch, Indian-spiced chicken and sticky rice. They had tea, I had a White Claw, we stayed six feet apart. 

2.  Be prepared … for PRESENTS. After lunch, I returned to my apartment and there was a package outside my door. My mom, from Pennsylvania, had sent me a dozen chocolate-covered strawberries with a cute note. Three hours later, a delivery driver arrived with a full meal – ordered and sent to me by my brother in New York. No one can see you in person, so expect some packages to be sent your way! Also, if you’re looking to send a gift to somebody, make sure you mail it early so it gets there in time! Our delivery drivers and postal workers are still out there working hard to make sure we get our packages. 

3.  Plan a virtual happy hour – invite all your closest friends and be sure to bring a beverage. I showed up fashionably late to my birthday happy hour, and when I signed on, I lit up. All of my favorite people, in one place, for me. They had each changed their virtual backgrounds to (mostly embarrassing) pictures of me, and it was fun going from screen to screen to see which snaps they chose. We also played a game of Pictionary. They each drew a (mostly embarrassing) memory that reminded them of me, and I had to guess what it was. We laughed so hard while we reminisced that my cheeks hurt afterward.  

4.  Facetime is your friend – instead of normal phone calls throughout the day, I received video calls from my loved ones. It made a huge difference to SEE them, even if it was through a tiny screen. My day started with a facetime from a friend and her toddler in London and ended with my father singing happy birthday and having me blow out a candle. 

5. Bake a cake! Why not live a little? You’ve got time.  I made a yellow cake with chocolate frosting – and made sure to put candles on top. Cupcakes, cookies, and/or ice cream are acceptable substitutes. As is fruit… if that’s your thing. 
At the end of the day, my heart (and belly) were so full. This pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty and stress around the world – but as I laid in bed and read through the well-wishes sent my way, I realized it’s times like these that help you remember what really matters in life. As long as we have our friends, family, and health - with a good amount of gratitude – we have what we need.