Don’t cancel, just compromise with some isolation-friendly ideas.

By Maggie Seaver
Updated April 07, 2020
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The coronavirus outbreak has forced us all to change the way we celebrate and socialize. Due to shelter-in-place and physical distancing mandates, maybe you’re missing a milestone anniversary trip; your loved one is spending their birthday alone; graduation was postponed; or your typically loud and lively Easter brunch or Passover seder is looking bleak. Simply put, we—and the special occasions we live to commemorate—are all in uncharted territory until further notice.

That said, there’s still always a way to celebrate and keep special traditions alive, even if it looks a little different this year. It's time to adjust your expectations and get creative, because when life gives you lemons—well, you know what to do with them.

Of course, this particular lemon is big (like, life-altering big)—but that only makes it more important to find happiness and comfort in small things, like celebrating what you’d normally be celebrating right now. What are you supposed to do, not toast to your grandmother’s birthday? Not have an Easter egg hunt? Pretend your kids didn’t graduate this year? Nope—you're definitely celebrating.

Read on for alternative ways to keep family traditions and holiday festivities alive while social distancing this year. Happy (safe and distant) celebrating!

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1 Use Virtual Reality and Streaming Services

In some respects, we’re lucky to be quarantined in a time of such advanced technology. So, maybe you had to cancel your anniversary trip to Paris or put that annual family hiking trip on hold this year. Huge bummer—but there are still creative ways to “travel” while self-isolating. Believe it or not, you can experience music concerts, comedy shows, national park tours, operas, aquariums and zoo attractions from home. You and your partner can even stream a Broadway musical or virtually tour the Louvre in Paris to mark your anniversary—without leaving the living room (don’t forget the champagne!).

Stream Religious Services, Too

Two of the biggest religious holidays impacted by the COVID-19 crisis are Passover (starting the evening of April 8 and ending the evening of April 16) and Easter (Sunday, April 12). If you observe either or both holidays, think twice before attending religious services in person. Your church and/or synagogue may be holding services under-the-radar, but the safest option (for you and for others) is to avoid public gatherings and participate virtually. Call or check your local house of worship website for this year's digital options. If not, do some research: Many religious organizations have been offering online services via YouTube and other easy streaming channels.

2 Plan a Video Chat Party

Video conferencing platforms are total lifesavers right now—for remote employees, sure, but also for friends and family trying to party and practice social distancing. It takes some planning and flexibility, but it’s perfectly possible to plan an awesome kid’s birthday party entirely via video conference.

Connect with friends, coworkers, and family over video chat for everything from a scheduled birthday happy hours to engagement and anniversary toasts—even Easter and Passover well wishes. Talking on the phone will never go out of style, but there’s something extra-special about “clinking” glasses over FaceTime or Zoom call when celebrating in these tricky times.

RELATED: How to Convince Your Loved Ones to Stay at Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic

3 Order Your Favorite Bites

Save yourself a trip to the grocery store and support local businesses with a takeout order. If you get the same coconut cake for your birthday every year from the local bakery, or always head to one brunch spot for an Easter feast, check to see if your go-to eatery is still open and willing to deliver or take orders for curbside pickup (don't forget to tip them well). There’s something so comforting about eating your traditional favorites, even when other aspects of the occasion need to change.

For couples looking to celebrate a milestone with a date night, find tips for how to plan a romantic evening at home.

4 Host a Virtual Dinner Party

Sadly, traditional holiday meals that families look forward to cooking and eating together, like Easter and Passover seder dinner, will look pretty different this year. That said, while you can’t physically gather and dine at the same table, you can cook (versions of) your favorites with what you have (or better yet, order in) and eat simultaneously over video chat. Here’s how to plan a social-distancing-approved dinner party from afar.

RELATED: Easy, Delicious Easter Recipes You Can’t Mess Up

5 Set Up a Group Photo Stream

Any iPhone users can share photo streams where everyone in the shared group can post and view each other’s photos, but you can also use a photo sharing app (like FamilyAlbum, Google Photos, Amazon Photos, PhotoCircle, or Flickr). This way, anyone participating from afar can upload photos to one shared album. Everyone in your Seder photo stream can upload snaps of their meal prep, best moments, and sweet video messages.

This option also takes the pressure off of being “live” on video call. Sometimes it’s easier to do an at-home Easter egg hunt and share photos later, or blow out the birthday candles and upload the video after—instead of coordinating a massive group call.

RELATED: Don’t Let the Quarantine Ruin Your Easter This Year—Here’s How You Can Still Celebrate

6 Brighten Someone Else’s Day

You can't be with the birthday girl, the graduate, or your amazing grandparents over Passover in person, but why not brighten their day with a thoughtful care package, birthday card, or email surprise (digital gift cards to a local shop or restaurant are the best!). Now more than ever, it's important to remember those who may need a helping hand, message of support, or some spirit-lifting this season.