We're sharing festive ideas to make a holiday in isolation feel special.
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butterfly place setting at the table
Credit: Dana Gallagher

As our collective society practices "social distancing" in an effort to quell the spread of COVID-19, we inevitably find ourselves missing more than just another game night with friends. As time passes, we also miss out on important milestones, like birthdays and weddings, as well as holidays like Easter and Passover.

Though undoubtedly disappointing to miss these much-anticipated in-person events, there's a shred of silver silver lining: the fact that technology makes it possible for us to enjoy these special occasions together, even if not physically together. Here, some creative ideas to employ when a holiday just doesn't really seem like much of a celebration.

Send paper invitations.

"Being 'together' over a web streaming service like Google Hangouts is the best option during this time of social distancing, but it can feel impersonal," says Kim Shrack, owner of Hoopla! Letters. "A simple way to make it more personal is to share something tangible, like a handwritten invitation." You likely already have everything you need: envelopes, stamps, pens or markers, and paper. Your invitation should include the date, time, and instructions on how to access your group video room, says Shrack. 

Decorate anyway.

Even if you don't have family and friends coming over for a big brunch, creating the same sort of atmosphere can go a long way in terms of helping to get you in the holiday spirit. Dig out your spring wreath and your Easter bunnies or your special Passover seder plate. Of course, there are also printable options, if you don't have much in storage. Look for printable Easter décor and seder plates and Passover games for kids, as well as Easter egg painting kids you can order and have delivered for minimal contact.

Order a special brunch or Seder meal.

Going out for an indulgent Easter brunch is something that so many families will, unfortunately, miss out on this year. But ordering a special brunch spread or elements for your seder from a local restaurant is a great way to enjoy a chef-driven meal at home and celebrate. It also happens to be a wonderful way to support local businesses during a difficult time. 

Restaurants, like Shilling Canning Company in Washington, D.C., are already planning ahead for this, by offering things like mimosa and bloody Mary kits and pastry board filled with an array of from-scratch Boston cream doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, English muffins, and peach preserves. Alternatively, if you live near each other, families can divide up the menu and create family takeout that can be picked up on someone's front porch, says Stacy Bergman, a rabbi in Westchester, New York. 

Attend services.

Because social distancing is so widespread, many churches and synagogues are unable to meet in person and are offering streaming services through platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Zoom. Reach out to the leader at your house of worship, or log on to their website for specifics. To get yourself in the spirit, don't forget to dress up as you would if you were to leave the house. "On those special days something as simple as getting dressed up in your special holiday outfits can set the tone for the day," says Meryl Lefkowitz, director of marketing and development at Booked Parties

Get creative with video conferencing.

For an even more interactive element, schedule a video chat with family members after the service to talk about what you learned and why you celebrate, says Jenny Randle, a ministry founder and author of Courageous Creative. You can also use video chatting services to socialize and eat your holiday meal "together." Have each family set up a laptop and the table, while dining simultaneously. 

Plan a special activity.

Adding an interactive element to your celebration can also help make an otherwise regular day feel a little more like a holiday. If you have small children, you can use paper plates, string, and crayons to make masks with the ten plagues, suggests Bergman. Or, you can write a script and create a family video where different family members are the various characters in the stories, record the scenes, and have someone merge all the footage to create one short film for everyone to enjoy. 

If you celebrate Easter, consider hosting a virtual egg dyeing party. If you don't want to use your edible eggs, cut them out of paper and decorate with whatever supplies you might have on hand, says Lefkowitz. Or create a spring wreath with flowers and leaves from your garden. You can also get a little creative this year and instead of having the kids' Easter baskets waiting for them when they wake up, set up a scavenger hunt that leads them to the grand prize: their baskets, says Allison Carter, owner of Allison Carter Celebrates

Incorporate an act of service.

A holiday like Easter or Passover presents the perfect opportunity to ask yourself a simple question, says Carter: What can I do for my community today? Think about how you can thank those working to keep us safe and healthy, says Carter. Consider dropping off or having breakfast pastries delivered to first responders working over the holiday. Write letters or make cards for residents at nursing homes, grocery store employees, firefighters, police, nurses, and so forth. Or, take a walk in your neighborhood and leave encouraging notes on the sidewalk and tape pictures or notes to your neighbor's front doors, suggests Carter. 


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