How to Celebrate Occasions During COVID-19

Balloons in various colours against a blue sky

How to Celebrate Occasions During COVID-19

During the pandemic, some of us may feel disheartened, as we are no longer able to celebrate special occasions and spend time with family. It can also be difficult to know if it’s okay to celebrate and find joy in this tough time.

On top of religious holidays, you might also have children who are finding it hard to understand why you’ve had to cancel their birthday party with all of their friends, a parent who you cannot visit because their long-term care home is locked down, have had to cancel your wedding, or a senior in high school that was excited about a prom and graduation they might no longer get to have. These are tough times, but we still believe there are ways to celebrate important occasions during COVID-19, so have compiled a list of ideas to help you and your loved ones mark important milestones during a global pandemic.

It’s okay to grieve

Before you look to the future, it’s important to take the time to grieve the plans and events that have had to be cancelled. It’s normal to feel sad, frustrated and a range of other emotions when something you were looking forward to can no longer happen in the way you expected. Take the time to recognize your feelings and perhaps jot down your thoughts in a journal or on a piece of paper.

It's okay to grieve

Bring in elements of celebration

Take time to reflect on the elements of the celebration that you were looking forward to and brainstorm ways to incorporate them in your home celebration. Here are some examples of ways you can incorporate some of the favourite aspects of a celebration at home:

  • Looking forward to a special meal? Look up a new recipe on the internet and make it at home. Take out your best dishware to eat the meal on.
  • Want to dress up? Wear your best outfit and get all dressed up at home.
  • Looking forward to exploring somewhere new? Check out our article on ways to travel the world from your couch.
  • Want to spend time with your family and friends? Use Skype, Facetime, Zoom or WhatsApp to connect virtually. You can also make virtual chats more fun with this list of free Zoom backgrounds. 
  • Can’t wait to show all your friends and family your new baby? Send them an e-card with a photo (see ideas below) or invite family and friends over to your home and show them the baby through the glass door or window (just make sure that they all aren’t coming over at once).
  • Want to attend a religious service or celebrate with your faith group? Look for services that are available virtually.
  • Have you had to cancel your child’s birthday party? Have a birthday parade and invite their friends to create a sign, decorate their family vehicles and cruise by your home individually for a birthday parade. Check out how one woman has organized Birthday parades in British Columbia.
  • Have a high school student that was looking forward to prom? Get them to dress up in their prom outfits, create a playlist and have a virtual dance party.
  • Can’t see your loved one who is in a long-term care home? If they have a window they can look out of, hold a sign and wave to them while standing outside. Also contact the long-term care home, as many have virtual technologies in place so residents can connect with their families at this time.
  • Had to postpone your wedding? Check out this guide for what to do next, but still make a plan to celebrate in some way on your original wedding date, while discussing your plans for your wedding in the future.

We know that these options can by no means replace the real event, they will allow you to celebrate, even if only in a small way.

Create a time capsule

If you are unable to connect with your family, encourage everyone to write a message that they would share if they were all together and seal in an envelope. Then at your next gathering after COVID-19, open up all the letters together and read what everyone shared during this time. Make sure that after you’re done reading them, that you put them somewhere safe to commemorate this moment in history.

Coloured envelopes with pencil

Send an e-card

Send an e-card to those you are not able to connect with. Companies like Smilebox, BlueMountain, JibJab and 123 Greetings offer free e-cards for a variety of celebrations.

Computer and coffee mug on a desk

Even though this is a difficult time, rather than one of celebration, it’s important that we continue to stay home during these times to continue to stop the spread of COVID-19. But remember, staying at home doesn’t mean being alone. We hope these tips will help you through this season and still find joy amidst all the troubles.

Other resources:

How to create meaningful connections while apart-Priya Parker (TED)

20 Creative Ways People Have Celebrated Weddings, Birthdays, and Anniversaries While Keeping their Social Distance (Insider)

National Conversation Project—Guidelines and prompts for virtual conversations