Planning a (Not-Virtual) Birthday Party During COVID: What You Need To Know

Birthday Parties

Considering throwing an in-person party for your child’s birthday? There is some debate as to whether it is a good idea to have a party even with a small group of children. There is a lot to consider, especially when getting a group of small children together. I’m pretty sure enforcing mask-wearing and social distancing with a group of 6-year-olds isn’t anyone’s ideal afternoon.

But, with day camps, kids’ programs, and daycares operating in a limited fashion and schools opening across Canada, it doesn’t seem crazy to host a modest birthday party with a small handful of guests.

In the end, we all are making our own choices and doing so at our own risk. And we want to make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Local Rules Matter

Before you plan anything, be sure to check your local area to ensure you are adhering to the regulations set out in your province, city, and/or municipality. Rules have changed multiple times since the start of the pandemic, so if you’re planning to play host, you’ll have to keep up on person limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings and for physical distancing.

In Ontario, if you have people from outside your immediate “bubble” at a gathering, you must maintain social distancing of at least 2 metres between people. And you must ensure that masks are being worn by everyone indoors. While the ages differ depending on your location, most children are expected to wear masks when physical distancing isn’t possible and/or when you are inside an indoor public space.

Parties at Home

In terms of party entertainers that come to you, you will need to ensure that you meet all of the above requirements and that the entertainers are also following the regulations. This means you will need an entertainer who will practice social distancing, wear a mask, and be vigilant with washing and sanitizing their hands.

If you are hosting an at-home party, it is best to keep the party outdoors if possible. “Outside is definitely safer,” said Erin Bromage, a comparative immunologist and biology professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Another study conducted in Japan found that the likelihood of catching the coronavirus are nearly 20 times higher indoors than outdoors.

So if possible, keep any at-home parties in the back- or front yard.

Parties at Venues

If you are considering holding a party at a venue, there are a few things to think about in your planning process. All party venues or businesses that are hosting events are subject to indoor or outdoor gathering limits and are required to ensure physical distancing can be maintained in the space.

Any performers or staff members who are working at your event are not included in the gathering limits.

Depending on where you live and your COVID-19 zone, the following popular venues may be affected:

  • indoor playgrounds and play places
  • movie theatres
  • indoor attractions (museums, aquariums, historic sites)
  • outdoor attractions (zoos, amusement parks, ski areas)

Toronto/GTA Party Providers Operating During COVID

Note: As COVID-19 conditions change, venues may close unexpectedly. We’ve pulled together some of our favourite Toronto party providers that have reopened for in-person parties.

The Gaming RV

If you’ve got a gamer in your home, The Gaming RV is a great way to celebrate their birthday! The Gaming RV will come to your home and your guests will get a chance to enjoy some of their favourite video games as well as some delicious gaming snacks. The Gaming RV is currently booking summer parties with a maximum of 8 people.

Pirate Life

Late spring–early fall only. Take the kids on a pirate cruise on the high seas—also known as Lake Ontario! You will need to wear a mask and maintain social distancing while on board. Have some fun with it and decorate your face masks before arriving to match the pirate theme.

Glama Gal Kids Spa

If you are looking to host a small, intimate party out of the house, Glama Gal Tween Spa is a great choice. They have significantly reduced their spa capacity and are also requiring all adults to wear masks. Children are required to wear masks based on the municipalities bylaws so be sure to check before you go!

The Toronto Zoo 

If you are planning a birthday party at the zoo, there are a few protocols to keep in mind. You must keep 2 metres between your group and other groups at the zoo. You must wear a mask or face covering if you are over the age of 2. And your groups cannot exceed 10 people. But the animals are ready to say hello and some restaurants are also open inside the zoo.

My Studio Party

With everything from crafts to magic to dancing, My Studio Party is bound to have the perfect party for your child. They have just restarted their at-home birthday parties with certain restrictions. All their hosts will wear masks and respect social distancing around kids and adults and parents will be responsible for imposing social distancing between kids and guests at all times.

High Park Nature Centre

What better way to celebrate a birthday than outside enjoying nature? The High Park Nature Centre is offering 2-hour outdoor nature experiences for up to 9 people (children ages 0-7 require a 1:1 adult ratio). You get to experience an hour-long guided nature hike where you’ll visit 3 different ecosystems and a 1-hour campfire in OURSpace with a pre-made fire!

Wanda’s Creative Clay

Offering in-studio and at-home birthday party packages, Wanda’s Creative Clay is a great way to celebrate your little one’s birthday. Let the kids get creative with some clay and create their own one-of-a-kind piece of take-home art.

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