How can we make kids' birthday parties safe again?

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

With most states allowing small gatherings, kids' birthday parties are back on the agenda, but it is important parents take additional steps to stop the spread of germs.

Gone are the days of kids sharing big bowls of chips, playing pass the parcel and crowding around a birthday cake to each take turns to blow out the candles. We live in the era of coronavirus and things will need to change.

It's up to parents to do the right thing while still creating a fun party.

Dr Vincent Candrawinata says the risk of the spread of COVID-19 was low, if everyone follows the guidelines.

"Responsible things include not attending if you or your kids are feeling unwell or showing any symptoms, keeping the number of people low, making sure that people can spread out and keep their distance, not having shared foods and drinks," he says.

"And sanitise, sanitise, sanitise. Ensure children are able to wash and dry their hands. 

"Explain rules in a fun way at the outset of the party to ensure children understand. Monitor and assist the children to follow the rules in a fun and supportive way."

It's up to parents to do the right thing and not take chances with the health of all the party guests and that includes the venue choice. 

"It's a bit tricky at the moment because we are going into winter, but, if possible, the party should be outdoors," he says.

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"If it's indoors, limit it to small numbers, be mindful of the space that you have, and limit the duration of the party."

Even sleepovers should be a no-go zone for the time being.

"While sleep overs usually have less people, they involve longer contact in an enclosed space," he says.

When it comes to food and party games, there's also a few things to keep in mind.

"Unfortunately, some games are a bit riskier than others. Try activities such as backyard cinema or even indoor cinema instead. Or have you considered a zoom birthday party?" he says.

"Serve food that has been portioned and arranged for just one child. It is also a good idea to name the plates, so they don't get mixed up. And make sure the cups are labelled with their names, so they don't share cups.

"Also serve fresh fruit such as apples as they are high in phenolics, which are a type of powerful antioxidant. We need to boost the immune system of our children where possible."

The biggest message is to not have a party if the birthday kid is feeling unwell and definitely don't let your child attend a party if they're sick.

"The most responsible thing parents can do is making sure that their kids are healthy if they are going to attend," he says.

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Here are eight simple changes to help stop the spread of germs at parties:

  • Don't serve food on shared platters or communal bowls. Instead, serve up individual servings on labelled plates. 
  • Don't let the birthday child blow out the candles on the cake. Instead, cut a slice for them and pop the candles on their slice to blow out.
  • Write the guests' names on their disposable glass or pre-packaged drinks.
  • Ditch pass the parcel and pick alternative party games that don't include all the kids touching one object. Instead play games like musical statues or have a movie night or treasure hunt.
  • Ensure the kids regularly wash their hands and where possible practice social distancing.
  • Have the party outside where possible and avoid sleepovers.
  • Stick to the guidelines in your state regarding the size of gatherings and if needed have a party for family and a separate party for school friends.
  • Do not attend or hold a party if you are unwell.