Making the Most of It: Celebrations in Isolation


The other day, during my first-thing-in-the-morning panic-scroll of pandemic news on Twitter and Instagram, an interesting thing dawned on me: Yes, we are in unprecedented times, and yes, there is so much uncertainty. But remarkably, we are also supporting each other and adapting to the new (temporary) normal in ways that are kinda incredible. To me, one of the most interesting and creative examples of this is how we’re learning to mark milestones and special occasions while physical distancing. So with this in mind, I’ve rounded up three ways you can still make special days feel special, even when you’re used to more faces at the party.

Honk to Send Your Love

Kids are celebrating birthdays, couples are celebrating anniversaries and teenagers are celebrating graduations at a time when we can’t come together as friends and family to offer our best wishes. So what can we do? Paint a big, colourful sign to post somewhere visible and ask people to honk to share in your joy – kids especially will get a kick out of listening to strangers sending them drive-by messages of congratulations all day long.

Don’t want to deal with hours of noise? (We see you, parents with babies and napping toddlers.) Arrange a car parade of family members and friends. Ask loved ones to decorate their cars with signs, streamers, balloons—you name it. Set a meeting time and place for the cars to assemble in a line and have your crew slowly pass your home, waving, shouting and singing to celebrate the life event in your fam.

Host a Virtual Party (with a Twist!)

Event planner Tanya Todd of Bug & Bird Events in Toronto is helping people to celebrate at home with their isolation group, but also with a safe, socially distant extension to those “invited” to the party. Her parties-in-a-box option include decorations and activities for the party, but they also include smaller packages to be porch-dropped to would-be guests. This kind of souped-up loot bag can include decorations, instructions and items required to participate in “group” activities via Zoom or Facetime during designated party hours, and even potentially treats to eat. “It’s not easy. You can’t do everything you want to do to celebrate big things,” says Todd, “but essentially we’re sending out mini parties to guests so everyone feels like they’re able to take part in some way.”

But what about gifts, you’re asking? “You can always create an Amazon wish list and let people ship directly to the guest of honour’s house,” says Todd. You can also ask for donations in lieu of gifts to a charity close to your heart—or, perhaps, timelier, to one that supports frontline workers in the COVID crisis.

Family Dinners, Physically Distant

If you come from a family who loves to eat together whenever they can (like mine—I’m not crying, you’re crying) you might be really feeling the absence of family suppers—holiday or otherwise. “You just have to adjust your thinking for a while,” says Todd. For example, her family has come up with a way to share Easter dinner from afar. “We have each been assigned a course for the meal and are sending out the recipe for what we’re making,” she says. “The idea is that we’ll collect the recipes to create a menu that we’ll all make on our own, in our own kitchens. That way, we’re still sharing the same meal in some way.” Cue up Zoom or FaceTime at the dinner hour and you can all eat together.

If you’re just keeping the celebration to your isolation group, you can also make dinners special by treating them like the occasions they are. Break out the pretty linens, the good silverware, your Grandma June’s stemware. Add flowers to your click-and-collect order. Make something your family loves to eat, set the table, make a special dessert. Time isn’t standing still (even though it feels like it is!) so we might as well make the most of it.

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