Birthday parties looked different this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, but families still found a way to make their their loved ones' milestones feel extra special. From breakfast in bed to socially distanced parades, see how America celebrated safely — and joyfully — at home.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Johnson shared a sweet video of himself and wife Lauren Hashian serenading their daughter Jasmine, who turned 5 on Dec. 16. “Like all of you families around the world, we’ve had to have very low key COVID birthday celebrations for our babies this year, but our love and mana will always be the strongest things that flow in this family,” Johnson wrote on Instagram. “In the end, that’s really all that matters.”
New Jersey mom Carolyn Torchia turned her New Jersey garage into a nightclub to ensure that her son, Jack, celebrated his birthday in style. Jack’s dad, Anthony, played bouncer, asking for ID, while Carolyn served as bartender pouring generous shots. Jack’s sister, Emily, filmed the shindig and the clip went viral on TikTok.
Hoda and Jenna’s sweet surprise
Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager brightened the spirits of a grandmother celebrating her first birthday without her husband of 50 years. “We just want to let you know you are not alone, and we’ve been thinking about you,” Jenna told Carolyn Oliver, 74, on a surprise video call. Oliver, who was in quarantine at her Louisiana home, was visibly touched by the surprise that her daughter had organized.
“Oh my God!” Oliver exclaimed. “Oh, you’re gonna make me cry.”
Duff, who has bemoaned “Karens who won’t wear masks,” celebrated her daughter Banks’ second birthday in October by filling their New York City home with Trolls balloons. In photos posted to the “Younger” actor’s Instagram story, the few guests in attendance kept their faces covered.
That same month, Duff announced that she and her husband, Matthew Koma, are expecting their second child together.
When Lester Holt turned 61 in March, the NBC Nightly News anchor clapped out his birthday candles with the help of his adorable grandson, Henry. “Birthday celebrations in this new era,” Lester wrote on Instagram, noting that his COVID safe way of extinguishing flames was "healthier, but surprisingly more difficult."
Mendes, who shares daughters Esmeralda, 6, and Amada, 4, with husband Ryan Gosling, went to great lengths to give their youngest a celebration to remember. “Stayed up laaate trying to make my baby’s 4th birthday extra special since she won’t see the family,” she wrote on Instagram. “Here’s to all you having a quarantine birthday ...sending extra love. Here’s to all you tired mamas...sending extra love.”
An unforgettable show of support
Police officer and former Marine Brett Byler, who was diagnosed with a grade-4 brain tumor in February 2020, was surprised on his birthday with a 120 car parade. “We couldn’t help but burst into tears; the love was overwhelming,” Byler’s wife, Mariah, told TODAY Parents at the time. “People came from near and far just to drive by and show their love for a few seconds, seconds that lifted Brett’s spirits. It was exactly what he needed… and our faces hurt from smiling and waving for almost an hour straight.”
The singer and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson surprised their daughter Sienna on her 3rd birthday with a FaceTime call from JoJo Siwa. The little girl was also treated to a special spa day at their home.
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s daughter celebrated her 4th birthday with breakfast in bed, three cakes and a princess dress. “Luna’s living her best birthday life,” Legend wrote on Instagram. “Mommy decorated. No preschool friends were able to come, but they sent video messages and she was thrilled. Good memories for her during this strange time.”
Carey threw a virtual Zoom birthday bash for her twins, Monroe and Moroccan. “Happy birthday Roc & Roe!!!” the five-time Grammy winner wrote on Instagram in April. “My babies are 9. I love you so much.”
Hoda and Joel Schiffman’s daughter Hope celebrated her 1st birthday with a "Sesame Street"-themed party and a homemade cake. The TODAY co-anchor’s mom, Sameha Kotb, her sister, Hala, and her brother Adel, joined in on the festivities via Zoom.