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Celebrations During Social Distancing


Cake, presents, people…these are all the usual ingredients to a birthday party. Unfortunately, anyone trying to celebrate their birthday right now is dealing with the challenge of social distancing. Although cake and presents are still acceptable, the people part is much harder to figure out. But while it may seem like a challenge to plan around, there’s no reason to let coronavirus put birthdays and other celebrations on hold—you just have to get creative with your party planning. One local neighborhood in northern Virginia decided that they could make a surprise party work while social distancing. After all, you can still sing “Happy Birthday” from six feet away!

Kristin Florin lives in a close-knit neighborhood that is lucky enough to have its own local handyman—Joe, or as he is known colloquially, Mr. Fix-It. Joe was about to celebrate his 60th birthday and had big plans for a party. After all, you only turn 60 once! Unfortunately with the escalation of the coronavirus and the need for social distancing, Joe had to cancel plans for gathering people together for his big birthday party. It was a sad but ultimately necessary move in light of the virus.

Unbeknownst to Joe, his friends in the neighborhood were not about to let his birthday fall victim to the virus. There are no rules against having fun, you just need to ensure that you stay on top of hygiene and stick to social distancing. With health and safety guiding their party plans, the community banded together and threw Joe a surprise party…all while sticking to the six-foot distance rule.

Partygoers wearing Joe's birthday shirt

Partygoers celebrating in the custom birthday shirts while they maintain the 6-foot rule

While planning for the party and figuring out the logistics of a socially-distanced celebration, Kristin wanted a way to commemorate the occasion. Even beyond the birthday, the party would be a way for the neighborhood to come together while living apart during these strange times. What better way to surprise Joe than by creating a custom t-shirt celebrating his 60 years that everyone could wear during the party?

Kristin had a head-start in creating this shirt thanks to the assisted design feature in Custom Ink’s lab, which gave her a stylish template to customize. With the shirts looking slick, she just needed to place the order to get the party started. Fortunately, Custom Ink’s Group Order Form allowed her neighbors to sign up, choose their shirt sizes, and gave them the option to pay individually While all their shirts were shipped to Kristin, they also had the option to have their shirts shipped separately to their own addresses. The Group Order Form also made it easy for Kristen to order extra shirts in case anyone missed out on signing up.

Joe showing off his party gear!

Joe showing off his party gear!

With the shirts in hand, the surprise party squad could work their magic. It was an unseasonably warm March day in Virginia, and the festivities went off without a hitch. Kristin delivered the custom shirts to the neighborhood so that everyone would be dressed appropriately to properly celebrate the birthday boy. Once Joe showed up, the festivities could commence! To maintain social distancing, each family fêting Joe came out to the end of their driveway with their own drink and made a toast. One neighbor opened her windows to play “Happy Birthday” on her piano, and the rest of the partygoers sang along while Joe walked through the neighborhood. People brought out balloons and even pets got to join in on the fun!

Being able to save Joe’s 60th birthday party was a surprise for more than Joe. The fact that the neighborhood could stand together while staying apart and make the most of a strange situation helped raise everyone’s spirits. Even with each family following the six-foot rule, the party still felt festive and special. Between the shirts, the singing, and the celebrating during such a strange time, Joe’s 60th birthday was definitely one to remember.

While it may not be possible to prevent every event from being canceled, it is reassuring to know that this ‘new normal’ still allows people to stay connected to each other. Whether it’s from a six-foot distance, or from a video chat on our computer, it provides hope to see one another during these anxious times. We stay apart, but we stand together. 


Kendra is the Copywriting Support at Custom Ink. She has a background in art but she loves writing, so she finds a compromise between the two by creating comics in her free time. When she’s not working, she can be found at a local café brainstorming her next project (and eating cupcakes).

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