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Dog in a party hat, cake, balloons
Photograph: Creative Commons/Pixabay

How to make your iso-buddy's birthday actually fun

You know what they say about the best laid (birthday) plans of mice and men – they often go awry, especially when we’re in a nation-wide lockdown.

By Divya Venkataraman

In these iso-times, we have to rely on those we live with to get us through the day – whether that’s a partner, a housemate, or that guy your friend from uni lived with on exchange in Norway. If lockdown has foiled your iso-buddy’s birthday plans, we’re here for you. Pick out your favourites from our list of adventures to spice up the day, so it doesn’t feel like just any other. 

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Fake it ‘til you make it (outside). No-one’s leaving the house anytime soon, but you can create your own festive little change of scenery at home. Brighten up the house by throwing up whatever decorations you’ve got buried in that forgotten cupboard under the stairs: last year’s Christmas tinsel, streamers from Mardi Gras, a disco ball, those Halloween feather boas. It’s kitsch, fun and a little nostalgic.  

Rise and shine. It’s finally D-Day! Or rather, B-Day. Welcome your iso-buddy into consciousness on this joyous morning with the sweet, wafting scent of breakfast. Treat them to a warm, buttery crumpet care package, or try out Sonoma’s smashed avo breakfast box

Pepe Saya

Photograph: Supplied

What’s a birthday without presents? We’ve rounded up some gifts perfect for lockdown entertainment: a jigsaw puzzle of Sydney’s best beaches, a craft beer subscription or a make-at-home pottery set?

Bouquet time. Use your state-sanctioned walk to go flower hunting. Much of inner Sydney’s back streets are overflowing with star jasmine, you can find hibiscuses in the Inner West and coastal natives near the beach. Perfect for an eclectic, pandemic-proof bouquet. Otherwise, check out Sydney’s best flower delivery services here.  


Photograph: Supplied

Cocktail hour! Wine is still an essential service and we are thrilled about it. Check out Sydney’s best bars doing takeaway and delivery. Grab minimal intervention wines from Golden Gully, pre-batched tinned negronis from Continental Deli, or funky, innovative cocktails from Bar Awards winner PS40. Oh, and did we mention Tasmania’s MONA is delivering sacrilegious cocktails

Food, glorious food. While you may have been perfecting your cooking skills over the past few weeks, this is the perfect time to give yourself a break from cooking. Order in the birthday baby’s favourite Sydney dish: maybe it’s Bondi local Totti’s puffy flatbread, or the butter chicken from fusion favourite Chin Chin, or the vegan ramen from Redfern’s Ra-Ra. Whatever you choose, unwrap the delicacies from their cling wrap, whip out the good china (or the millennial equivalent – two unchipped, matching plates) and arrange them prettily. If you’re got some decent outdoor space, think about ordering in a gourmet picnic hamper for a real quaran-feast. 


Photograph: Tealily Photography

Settle in for a show. There’s so much to choose from as musicians and performers around the world adapt to the lockdown landscape. Watch Bennelong, an award-winning show by First Nations dance troupe Bangarra, revisit Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar or savour some stunning arabesques courtesy of the Australian Ballet. If you’re looking for live music, try out digital streaming platform Sofa King Fest. If you’re more into culture, the Sydney Opera House has a new digital programme of old favourites every week. 

Other people, we guess. Beckon your iso-buddy over to your computer with a “Have you seen this meme yet?” and then surprise them with all their friends’ faces on Zoom. You might be rewarded with a howl of rage and a “Why didn’t you tell me, I would have changed out of this week’s sweatpants,” but if you’re willing to cop any potential heat, odds are they’ll be absolutely delighted in the long run. 

Boogie time. Have a little dance-fest with just your household – your options are endless. If you’re feeling active or just like the look of yourself in legwarners, try out one of Retrosweat’s ‘80s aerobics workouts, but if you’ve already had one quarantini too many, get down to club beats from Mildly Wet or groove along to Loud ‘n’ Queer Nightclub

Pepe Saya

Photograph: Retrosweat

Wondering how else to while away the time?


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