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Cheers and tears to 21 years

By Alaina Burris
On November 20, 2020

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For as long as I can remember, a 21st birthday has been one of those milestones that everyone celebrates when it comes along. Turning 21 means a lot of different things for everybody: At 21, you can legally purchase and consume alcoholic beverages, you can check into hotels by yourself, gambling becomes legal in most places and you also get a horizontal driver’s license. But how much of that do I get to experience when turning 21 during a pandemic? 


I know I’m not alone in having a birthday during this pandemic; nearly everyone has been affected by the dreaded COVID-19 limiting their ability to gather and celebrate with a ton of people on special occasions, such as birthdays. 


While you should hold off on having a big party, there are safe, socially distant ways you can still celebrate your birthday with others, outside of your immediate family and friends.

Have a Zoom party. Creating a Zoom meeting room is easy and free to all users. All you have to do is set up an account and share your code with the people you would like to celebrate with. Explain to everyone your intentions of doing this; ensure that everyone has a similar setup of drinks and snacks, even if it’s not all the same, so that way it feels like everyone is being included. 


Have a small gathering of people that you are already around. This can include a couple of your teammates, roommates, significant others and family members. Those who you are already around consistently, especially people you live with, are already susceptible to whatever you go through, so it’s a bit safer to stick with the ones who are already stuck with you. 


Host a drive-thru birthday party. I don’t mean at McDonald’s or Taco Bell; I mean outside your house. Set up some time of invitation that includes your address, the date/time of the event and what it will entail. What can it entail? Well, at the end of your driveway or on the curb/sidewalk,  you can set up a designated area for if someone bought you a gift or a card for them to get out and place it, have pre-cut pieces of cake for them to take and a cooler with bottled drinks. All your guests do is drive by in their car, follow the steps and wish you a happy birthday. You sit close to your house, watch everyone drive by and thank them for coming. 


If you insist on having a party, despite the fact that you should not have one, there are necessary precautions that should be taken in order to ensure everyone’s safety.

  • Require masks for your guests. This is no different than a gathering at school where everyone is required to wear a mask. Since you are hosting this party, you should potentially think about providing masks, that way no one has an excuse such as, “I forgot.” 

  • Make sure the party will be in a large space where social distancing can be accommodated. A park would be a really good place to do so, by renting out a pavilion and using the space around it for folding tables. If you have a community center nearby that is allowing for rental space and they have a large area, try to rent there. 

  • Do your best to quarantine and have your guests do the same. I would also recommend getting tested for the Coronavirus with enough time to quarantine and receive results prior to the party to ensure that everyone is safe. If “The Bachelorette” contestants can do it, so can you. 

  • Postpone your party until the spiked cases have died down. I know this can be a long time, but you really should not host a party during a pandemic. 


Things are still uncertain, especially with having a spike in cases all across the country. Do your part in keeping everyone safe, including yourself. Wear a mask, wash your hands, know how far away six feet is and remember that you can only control yourself. 


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