Honor the Islamic holy month with these festive—but easy—tips.
ramadan ideas - bowl of dates
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Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and considered one of the holiest months of the year for Muslims. In the U.S., Ramadan begins around April 13, 2021 and ends around May 12, 2021 with Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of Breaking Fast. Religious observers honor the month by fasting during daylight hours and devoting themselves to spiritual rejuvenation through reading the Qur'an and prayer. While those are traditional activities to commemorate Ramadan, there are more ways to celebrate, too.

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1 Decorate with dates

Dates are the number-one staple of Ramadan, across all Muslim cultures. They are what we eat for energy at dawn before a long day of fasting, as well as what we eat to break our fast at sunset.

Consider having dates front and center during Ramadan by shifting dates out of the cardboard box they came in and into golden or silver decorative bowls for the season. Bowls with glass lids or a cloche dome are best to help keep the dates fresh.

Display the festive bowls in your kitchen or on a sideboard. Take it a step further and create a Ramadan vignette by filling bowls of varying heights with nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, and displaying them as a grouping. (At the end of Ramadan, use the dates and nuts in your Eid cooking—you can have your display and eat it, too!)

2 Light lanterns

Ramadan's core traditions take place at nighttime. Once upon a time, before electricity, people used oil lanterns as their source of light to help them carry out Ramadan's nighttime traditions. Today, you can use battery operated decorative lanterns inside your home—and on your porch—to help give your home a festive Ramadan glow.

3 Scent your home

A good scented candle makes a home holiday-ready in minutes. Choose a scent that speaks to you and light your candles during the night in Ramadan, particularly the last 10 nights of Ramadan. If incense is more your thing, you can find plenty of non-headache inducing options for that, too, nowadays—with well-designed incense holders, too: I got this one for Ramadan.

4 Share iftar with your neighbor

Food is a wonderful way to bring people together. When preparing iftar (the meal at sunset), make a little extra and share a plate with your neighbor. If you're not much of a fan of cooking, you can also consider preparing a bakery box or a food hamper with ready-made finds that speak of Ramadan to you. A little accompanying note explaining what Ramadan is or about the food you're sharing can be a much-appreciated gesture, too.

5 Wrap gifts

It used to be that handing over cash counted as a sufficient Eid gift. But nowadays, Muslims in America opt for a bit more personalization when it comes to Eid gifting. Thoughtfully curating gifts for our near and dear can be stressful at times but it also has the potential to produce the biggest smiles, especially for kids. Consider wrapping your Eid gift this year (complete with bow!) or plopping it into an Eid gift bag if you're short on time, and spend a few extra seconds on artfully arranging the tissue paper.

For open-house Eid parties, I like to create a "build-your-Eid-gift" station for kids. I lay out gift bags, tissue paper, ribbon, and a bunch of inexpensive finds that include books, treats, and toys. Kids pick one item from each category and place it in their gift bag. This way, every kid goes home with a gift without me having to worry about collecting RSVPs and confirming a guest list in advance.

6 Write Eid cards

Eid cards are a great way to celebrate the holiday with family and friends near and far—and they're also a simple way to include Eid in the workplace when gifted amongst coworkers. You can also use Eid cards to express gratitude to community members at your local mosque, such as your imam or child's weekend-school teacher.

If you have elder relatives, I especially suggest writing them an Eid card (in addition to your annual phone or video call on Eid day.) It will take them right back to when letter mail was the norm and help you build meaningful connections across generations, especially if your kids are helping you with the card writing.

7 Craft with kids

While adults are fasting, kids can sometimes feel bored or left out during Ramadan. Keep kids engaged throughout the month with fun, holiday-themed crafts. Toddlers and elementary-aged kids will love my moonsighting binoculars craft. Make them a day or two before Ramadan is expected to start and see if you can spot the crescent moon that signals the start of the month. Keep your binoculars safe—you'll need them to find the moon for Eid al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, as well.

Manal Aman is the founder of Hello Holy Days!, which hosts crafts, celebration ideas, beautiful holiday cards (available soon at Target stores and online), and other fun ways of celebrating Muslim holidays.