Ask Emma: How do I celebrate my birthday during a pandemic?

Stay home with friends; take precautions if going out to celebrate at bars



Before you go out for your birthday, think about other ways you could celebrate safely, like having a small wine night.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen columnist

Dear Emma,

I’m a senior and I’m about to turn 21. I’ve been waiting to celebrate in Pullman for a solid four years. Obviously, we are in the middle of a pandemic, and COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly in Pullman right now. I was planning to celebrate (safely) at Stubblefields, which just closed. 

How do I safely celebrate my birthday without contributing to the case increase or putting others at risk?


Birthday Girl

Dear Birthday Girl,

Happy birthday! I’m sorry you’re celebrating under such unusual circumstances. One thing is for sure: you won’t forget this birthday for a long time.

I know it may seem lame, but it is probably safest to stay home for your birthday. See if you can invite a few friends (a very small group) over for wine tasting or to learn how to make fun cocktails. It isn’t a bar, but I imagine you will feel better afterward knowing you didn’t expose yourself or others unnecessarily. 

Your friends may be the best part of your birthday this year. Reach out to them ahead of time and ask if they would be willing to either plan a celebration with you or plan a surprise for you. I can almost guarantee your friends will be willing to put something safe together to celebrate you. 

If you are dead-set on going out for your birthday, I recommend taking as many precautions as possible. 

Depending on how many days you have until your birthday, you could quarantine for two weeks ahead of the big day. Sure, it sucks to be stuck in the house for that long, but it is better to know you aren’t spreading anything. 

If quarantining for two weeks isn’t an option, consider getting tested — and asking any friends going with you to do the same. This is the less desirable option, because if you aren’t sick, you may be wasting test kits that are needed elsewhere. However, you do you and if you are able to get a test, it might be worth a shot. 

Finally, wear a mask. I know you can’t drink through a mask, but if you’re going to a restaurant, bar or party, please be safe. 

As often as I say “don’t let people breathe on you,” that just isn’t good enough. Wear a mask. Make sure the people you are with wear masks. 

Unfortunately, your best gift this year may be the peace of mind you get from celebrating safely and knowing you aren’t risking your health. I know you have been looking forward to this for a long time, and it sucks that you can’t control this change in plans. 

I hope you make a decision you feel safe and comfortable with. Have fun celebrating!


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