Cakes made with or miraculously whipped up without eggs or butter. Shouts of "I love you" from across the lawn or over Zoom. The coronavius outbreak has created a new (virtual) reality in which celebrations are set. 

LaShondra Cade, who was diagnosed with leukemia four years ago, had big plans for her 40th birthday on April 2. She'd decided on a theme – 40 and fabulous – and had a guest list of approximately 60.

"This was more of a celebration, for me, of life because of what I’ve been through since 2016," Cade, an employee at Achieve Clinical Research in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, tells USA TODAY. She describes her journey as "extremely hard (and) extremely difficult."

"I battled with depression, and it just really took a toll," she adds. 

A pair of thoughtful co-workers and Cade's son managed to exceed her wildest dreams by assembling a parade of vehicles outside of her work, as captured by local Fox affiliate WBRC. One colleague reached out to members of her church, another contacted the Vestavia Hills Fire Department, and Cade's son got his friends involved. Their efforts made the birthday girl feel "extremely loved." 

Sara Byrne and family celebrated her grandmother's 95th birthday from a distance, as seen in a video shared to Instagram that has been viewed more than 44,000 times since it was uploaded March 18.

A party of about 75 guests had been planned in Syracuse, New York, to celebrate  nonagenarian Kathleen Byrne, a mother of seven, with 22 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren who is "always there supporting" her family, Sara says. After the pandemic thwarted party plans, Sara says the idea of an alternative celebration was hatched in a cousin group text. Family members sang "Happy Birthday" from the yard with balloons and letters that spelled out "Happy Birthday."

"We couldn’t go give her a hug or anything, but we just wanted her to know that we were still thinking about her on her birthday," Sara says of their motivation. She suggests using FaceTime or stopping by someone's house so people know you're thinking of them.

Evite has seen a 1,130% increase in get-togethers that mention virtual parties from March 2019 to the same time this year. According to the company, the categories that are most popular for online shindigs are birthdays, cocktail parties and happy hours. Evite celebration expert Zaria Zinn says these types of gatherings "lend themselves really easily to fun themes or activities." 

She suggests dressing up with co-workers as a possibility for a virtual happy hour. For her own sister's virtual birthday, a house was reimagined to be a bar crawl. 

"Each room has a different theme, (with) all different drinks," she says. "You have a map to all of the different locations." Her sister's friends could join the party by way of an Evite invitation, allowing them to connect using video chat.

Zinn places an emphasis on activities when it comes to having a successful event. "It can get kind of awkward if everyone’s just in a video chat together not really knowing who’s in charge or what to say or what to do," she says.

What kind of virtual activities work? Zinn suggests questionnaires that everyone fills out beforehand and can discuss, having a show and tell, or asking people to create a cocktail, food or something from their kitchen to showcase. 

Swasti Sarna, insights manager for Pinterest, has more ideas to make virtual get-togethers feel special. She says decorating a space will make it feel festive and says Jackbox Games or other games you can play virtually can liven up an event. 

"Some people that are hosting virtual baby showers are having the guests ship their gifts," she adds, "and then they’re opening it ... while they’re streaming."

Recipes are another way to share in the experience.

"I also celebrated a virtual birthday once and someone had cooked a cake and sent the recipe to everyone so we were all able to cook it and eat it together," says Sarna, bringing up Pinterest's collaborative boards, which would allow people to share recipes.

For Amanda Nguyen, owner of Butter& bakery in San Francisco, quarantine cakes have become her bread and butter.

Her modern confections are typically made for weddings, milestone birthdays and other momentous occasions that require feeding a large group. As people are asked not to gather in large groups to help flatten the curve, demand plummeted. 

"For one weekend we started seeing no orders come in, and then a ton of cancel requests," Nguyen says. She realized people still had occasions to celebrate, despite not being able to so with large groups. 

"So, we totally pivoted our product," she says. "We now make tiny, little baby cakes."

The cakes that feed 1-2 people are topped with quarantine-inspired sayings like "wash your hands," "don't touch your face," and "pretend you're an introvert." They have become insanely popular. Nguyen believes her shop used to make about 20 cakes a week. The weekend quarantine cakes were launched she says she received 90 orders Saturday. 

"The quarantine cake was born basically out of necessity," she says. "I just didn’t want to have to lay off my team, if I could do anything to prevent it."

How sweet a "last resort" can be.