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Birthdays are an opportunity to reflect on the past and contemplate what’s to come. During a pandemic, the significance of this ritual takes on a whole new meaning but we believe that this special day can still be infused with joy and gratitude from the simple things. That’s why we thought it would be valuable to offer a guide on celebrating birthdays during a pandemic.
Back in November, I was apprehensive about my own birthday. As the day approached, I could feel my nerves slipping away as I finally accepted that the day would mirror my typical routine in the pandemic. Loved ones felt far away and the magic associated with the celebration felt faint. When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. I took a deliberate approach to the day, seeking out the recipes of baked goods that I was craving and ordering food from one of my favourite local restaurants. My friends organized amongst themselves and delivered me a stack of letters that were affirming and love-filled. I went for a refreshing walk and the evening ended with a home screening of one of my favourite movies; the familiarity of the story, like the familiarity of the day, was comforting. The enjoyment came from the simplicity of the day, proving to me that even in these circumstances, ceremony was possible. Inspired by our selection of birthday goodies, here are some of my suggestions on how to put this into motion for yourself and/or the loved ones you want to celebrate on their special day.
SETTING THE SCENE
As someone who receives energy from the comfort of my home, I strongly believe in the power of creating an atmosphere in your environment as a way of mirroring the intentions that you hold within. Birthdays symbolize the joy of life which calls for a celebratory atmosphere, one that aligns with the specificities of the person who is being honoured. Since we’re spending so much of our time indoors, making the effort to shift the space will go a long way in helping to signify the importance of the day.
FINDING THE PERFECT GARLAND
For thoughtful and whimsical party decors that are certain to help transform the space, Meri Meri has you covered. Their English Garden Happy Birthday Garland is a great place to begin when it comes to decorating the space. Pre-strung on mint ribbon, this garland features the words “happy birthday!” in floral lettering with a delicate gold foil detail. This garland is printed on eco-friendly paper and runs six feet long, which makes it easy to reuse in any space. The gorgeously soft colour palette and floral imagery of this garland will instantly make the space dreamy and decorative. For more simple decor, you might be interested in their Gold Happy Birthday Garland, which gets the same message across in shiny gold detail, or you may want to keep it classic with their Spotted Birthday Garland. If you’re looking for even more neutral options (an approach that is great for those of us who love to reuse decorations across varying celebrations!), one of my favourite Meri Meri picks is their Blossom Garland (shown on the bench in the photo above). This eight-foot-long white blossom garland will certainly brighten your space. Made up of 45 assorted white tissue flowers and leaf pennants, this hand-assembled decoration will be fitting for those of us who will be celebrating birthdays in the springtime or are longing for the ambiance of a summer afternoon.
Celebrating with your social bubble? Choose a garland that will be perfect for photoshoots that will document memories of togetherness during this difficult time. The Honeycomb Garland from Paper Source will give you a pop of colour and dimension and can be used to amp up the space when preparing it for birthday celebrations. If you want to make your message loud and clear, their Letter Banner Garland Kit will help you for birthday decorating and even more! With gold foil letters and colourful dimensional flowers, you can customize a sentiment to suit any occasion. This kit includes pre-cut shapes, foam squares and ribbon. You’ll also need your own glue stick, scissors, transparent tape and bone folder.
And there’s no birthday more important than the very first! Check out Meri Meri’s Baby Mini Garland if you are welcoming a new life or helping someone in your life celebrate their own little one. Now more than ever, putting effort into these tiny details like finding the perfect decorations can go a long way and this cute banner that represents something so important is a perfect reminder of that.
FOR THE SPECIAL GIFT
We have so many wonderful options in our Gift Wrap + Accessories section but still, we thought it would be fun to honour a few that may work great for you as you wrap up the gifts you’ve gathered for birthday celebrations to come.
The Easy To Shop For Wine Bag from Emily McDowell is a customer favourite. With woven handles, this bag is the perfect size for a bottle of wine to help your loved one celebrate and enjoy their birthday. If you’re looking for an extra special pick to slip inside, check out Grape Witches. Founded by Nicole Campbell and Krysta Oben in 2015, this local bottle shop carries wine that is sustainable, organic, biodynamic and all-natural. You won’t find their selection at the LCBO, so a gift from their curated collections will wow your recipient, especially if they are a lover of sourdough bread, unpasteurized cheese, slow food and closing the gap between maker and buyer.
For our eco-conscious shoppers, we highly recommend the Furoshiki gift wrap from Wrappr. This reusable alternative to traditional wrapping paper features gorgeously designed and original imagery by artists who see beauty in the details. Machine washable and 100% organic cotton, not only will you save money and eliminate waste produced by one-time-use wrapping paper when purchasing this option, but you will stun the recipient with this unique approach to gift wrapping.
Speaking of unique approaches to gift wrapping, Paper Source’s Abstract Watercolour Stone Wrap Roll is another pick that will impress the lucky birthday recipient. Made with actual stones, this wrapping paper is eco-friendly, water-resistant, recyclable, reusable and super easy to cut through. Beautifully designed with a colourful, abstract print in watercolour style, this wrapping paper will emphasize the intention that you put into offering a token of appreciation on someone’s very special day.
Blow your birthday candles out with the luxurious Gold Glitter Candles from Meri Meri. Or, check out their Multi Fleck Candles if you’ve craving that pop of colour. Both packs come with 24 tall candles and plastic holders that are perfect for magnifying the celebratory atmosphere of your day. The classic tradition of making a birthday wish may bring you some familiarity and comfort, making this special day a little bit different from the rest that we’ve spent indoors during the pandemic.
FINDING THE PERFECT CARD
One of our favourite elements of the Scout in-store shopping experience is getting to witness our customers explore our abundant card walls. We miss seeing you and helping you find that perfect pick in-person but we’re happy to find new ways of getting you to the card of your dreams for that special someone. We carry a wide range of cards, including humorous cards, cards with sentimental messaging, cards with creative designs and nostalgic pop culture references. A good card is so satisfying to give, especially when it is personable, drawing on the parts of a person that you love. It would be difficult to honour all of our favourites, so we invite you to check out our online birthday card section to begin your search and contact us for our guidance as we greatly enjoy the mission of finding a card to hold your gratitude and care.
Thankfully, we also carry packs of cards that will last through birthdays to come and may reflect the direction you’re looking for. Em & Friends, a company founded by writer and illustrator Emily McDowell, is a great place to begin. Often known for their empathy cards, this company understands what it takes to truly move someone with a message that is both thoughtful and authentic. Their Birthday Mixed Boxed Cards come with 8 blank cards with envelopes featuring 4 heartfelt, celebratory, funny birthday card designs and (2 cards each of the 4 different designs). Perfect for people you love, like, are related to, work with, or otherwise wish to honour.
Video credit: Em & Friends
The Birthday Box Card Set from Princeton Architectural Press is another pick for those of us who would like options and an inventory of birthday cards to honour the special folks in our life. This Birthday Box contains 20 birthday cards in a beautifully designed, matchbook-style package. With images from five talented artists, they have provided a collection of diverse cards to help you celebrate everyone from the children in your life to parents, family, friends, co-workers, or neighbours. This boxed card set is wonderfully organized with artists arranged by envelope design and colour: 5 artists equals 5 envelope colours. It also includes a 12-page booklet with artist Q&As so that you can learn more about the makers and enjoy the stories that come with their art.
Photo credits Brown Paper Bag
Rifle Paper Co.'s Mixed Florals Essential Card Box is another perfect pandemic pick as it offers you occasion-specific cards that are not just limited to birthdays. With 5 thank you cards, 5 birthday cards, 2 congrats cards, 2 everyday cards and 1 sympathy card, your needs will be covered. The floral designs are eye-catching and thoughtful, certain to make someone smile on their birthday. Plus, the sturdy box that holds the cards can be reused and refilled with more of Rifle's A2 cards once you've made space.
Ultimately, the power of a birthday card is in the message that you express—the words that come from your heart. Taking the time to drop into an authentic space and write from within is deeply valuable, especially for birthdays that are celebrated against the backdrop of our current times. It is a great way to spark joy, optimism and connectivity during a time when things can feel distant both literally and metaphorically. We also wanted to remind you that we offer a personalized card service for those unable to pick up or want to avoid having to mail twice. See our shipping page for details on how, or reach out and we can walk you through it.
FORMING NEW BIRTHDAY RITUALS
As we live through the pandemic, the days can feel discouraging, as though we’ve lost time or are missing out on experiences. Shift this belief to bring attention to what has been gained. For many of us, the change exists within. Small shifts in mindset, a widening of perspective as we are forced to take note of our health and wellbeing in an effort to protect those we love. We’ve been tasked with boundary-setting, critical thinking, and strategizing new ways of living. Subtle growth has occurred in this unusual space and a birthday is an opportune time to sift through these learnings as a way of acknowledging that nothing has been lost. Take time to journal, self-pamper and enjoy moments of stillness for yourself. It can be as simple as that—practices that honour your growth and the truth that your dreams and visions of the future are worthy of having, even if external factors have shifted.
FOR LOVED ONES
When it comes to celebrating our loved ones, there are many quarantine-friendly ways to show your appreciation and make them feel special. Here are a few suggestions:
- Support local when gift-giving. During the pandemic, it has been beautiful to see folks uplifting their favourite local businesses. Now more than ever, we strongly believe in the power and importance of this guiding ethos. In an attempt to engage with social media in a more useful way, I try my best to record the Toronto-based businesses and makers that I stumble across that may be helpful for birthday-giving. I recently gifted a dear friend a book from Bellwoods Books. Bellwoods Books is a pop-up bookshop, with a speciality in women writers, vintage paperbacks and other rare and unusual finds. With a delivery option, they make it easy to bring the gift of literature to the doorstep of the bookworm in your life. With the recent passing of Valentine’s Day, floral arrangements filled my social media feeds and I felt lucky to stumble upon the beautiful work of florists from 2Peonies and Crown Flora. When we can’t physically affirm those near to us, flowers are the perfect way to fill in that space. I have become sensitive to the ways in which flowers communicate different messages through colour and type, including messages of celebration for birthdays!
- Create positive and thoughtful experiences to show your care for their birthday. This can be as simple as delivering baked goods to a friend or even organizing with others to create a video of messages for that special someone. Spending quality time with someone on their special day is a surefire way to communicate your care and this has been problematized by the times. However, there are ways that you can bypass these challenges beyond a Zoom call. I’ve seen wonderful videos of birthday parades and have shared virtual movie nights with friends that felt warm and life-giving. We can still experience things together and create lasting memories—it’s just a matter of finding a way that works for you.
- Stay connected and don’t forget to recognize the beauty in small, thoughtful tokens of appreciation. Birthdays are not about the material. During this time, it is easy to feel flattened and isolated. Every month, I try my best to take the time to mark in my calendar the birthdays of those near and dear to my heart. Paradoxically, the days seem to slip by in a haze while also moving by so slowly during the pandemic. Time is accelerated by the news cycle and the pressure to keep up, stay productive and optimistic during a truly unprecedented time. It is easy, in this confusing passing of time, to momentarily lose hold on our immediate surroundings. Community is deeply important and birthdays can give us the opportunity to uplift the lives that positively impact us, one by one. It is an opportunity to carve out the time, space and energy to honour those we care about through our words and actions.
LOOKING FOR MORE SUGGESTIONS?
Need an even more specific suggestion for yourself or a special person in your life that you’d like to celebrate? Check out our birthday card, gift wrap and party decor selection, or reach out by email with requests or concerns, and we’ll do our absolute best to help in whatever way we can.
How are you celebrating yourself, or your loved ones, this year? We would love to hear about your birthday rituals, or favourite past memories, in the comments below so that we can share inspiration within our community.