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  • Writer's pictureBrook Jay

The Birthday Party Pressure Is Off With Pandemic Celebrations

An Experiential Marketing CEOs perspective on pandemic parties and how to throw them.

Since I was a kid my birthday parties were “big” events. Looking back now, it was obvious that when at 5 years old I wanted a custom wedding cake for my birthday, I was going to take my birthday seriously and event production was in my future.

After launching All Terrain, every birthday became an opportunity to promote the company and celebrate with friends, clients and the media.

Whether we were involved with the opening of a nightclub, a venue or helping to promote a show like Cirque Du Soleil, I was always bringing together large groups of people to do fun and unique things under the premise of my birthday.

Thinking back now, some of the best series of parties were when Patron offered to host my birthday party 2 years in a row on their private train, The Tequila Express. The parties took place at Union Station in Chicago, on a disused train platform where the old post office trains used to park. Guests would enter through the main train station and be trollied down to the underground, hidden platform by the baggage handlers. Lounge furniture, lighting and music transformed the area into a Gotham City style event space.

The events included a Mad Hatter-esque dinner party with James Beard award-winning Chef Hagop Hagopian. We also had live painting by Chadwick the Artist, DJ’s, tours of the beautiful retro train and of course amazing cocktails. To say these were one of a kind, unforgettable parties is an understatement. But, the planning and promotion of them were a big undertaking.

Welcome to the Covid Birthday Celebration

Last week I had a birthday and going into the year my friends and family were discussing another big celebration. There were talks of a Roast (thank you Corona for saving me from that). We talked about a flyaway trip with family and close friends and also a beach party near our family lake house in South Haven, Michigan. Due to the pandemic, all birthday celebration plans came to a screeching halt and I have to say I was relieved.

We wound up celebrating quietly in South Haven. I put on a fancy dress for the first time in almost 70 days, added a little make up with the virtual help of my friend and celebrity make-up artist Carmindy Bowyer and walked my dog on the beach with an elegant road soda in hand.

At sunset we had a delicious meal of crab legs and champagne. My husband bought the only cake I’ll ever eat (Chantilly) and we shared it with neighbors over the fence.

I received beautiful gifts, flowers, wine and champagne that were sent to the lake house from all over the world. Loved ones reached out and shared amazing photo montages, funny stories, hilarious cards and letters that made me tear up. I heard from so many wonderful people. It made me feel incredibly loved and appreciated. It was the perfect birthday for this quarantined lady!

This change in birthday plans has me looking at how others have been celebrating during the pandemic. I am absolutely intrigued and inspired by all the fun ways people have been celebrating birthdays. From the birthday video conference parties and dinners, to the lawn decorations, to parades, people are getting creative and I for one am LOVING IT.

One great idea to honor someone’s birthday virtually came from my best friend Wendy, who had a birthday earlier in the month. Her kids reached out to friends and family to ask them to write a letter to Wendy about what she means to them and also share a photo. The kids then turned the letters and photos into a book. She said it was the best gift she has ever gotten.

The NYC times shared these following ideas on, How To Celebrate A Birthday Now. Some of my favorites in the article include inviting your friends to join a virtual sound bath or designing your own transition ritual.

A transition ritual is when you think about your birthday as a physical line you’re crossing. The idea is to imagine you could take three things with you when you cross that line. In turn, you are also invited to relinquish three things when you cross that line as well. This could be a fun idea to do with friends and family.

My husband and I do a similar ritual on New Years. I recently wrote an article about bringing that practice into your business. (You can find that article link here, A Decade of Reflection and Reinvention). However, I never thought to do this ritual for my birthday.

Some of you may never pay much attention to your birthday so Corona or not the day is just another day. I can appreciate that too. But for those of you that LOVE a birthday celebration, this year will be unique and you will need to get creative.

This year will not involve big parties or exoctic trips. However, there is relief and joy in these innovative ways to celebrate another trip around the sun. In writing this article I found so many great ideas that I felt compelled to share them.

Cheers to Covid birthday celebrations everywhere! I wish you all a happy & healthy birthday this year and every year following!


Brook Jay.Relentless Visionary. Founder, All Terrain Collective.

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