As social distancing has now become the new norm, how do we celebrate those we love from afar? Our usual gatherings for birthdays, graduations and other milestones are on pause for now, but that doesn't mean we can't feel connected and commemorate in new, equally meaningful ways.
Having had my own birthday in April I've experienced some pretty creative social distancing celebrations first hand and with Mother's Day right around the corner, I figured I would round up some of my personal favourite ideas.
I've divided this list into two categories - Staying Connected and Acts of Appreciation. Ultimately both help us feel closer together, but here staying connected focuses on ways to feel like you are all in the same place, even when you are in separate locations. Acts of appreciation or affirmation are about showing just how much you care for someone. In my opinion, the ultimate celebration choses items from both.
So how do we stay connected when we are so far apart? A great way is to add a common thread to any kind of FaceTime or video chat. By doing so we feel a sense of closeness or camaraderie beyond just day to day verbal communication.
1. Get Takeout
Food has always been a big part of my social life. I love going out for drinks and trying new restaurants with friends. Now once a week my girlfriends and I choose either a new or favourite local restaurant that is offering delivery or pick up. Then we each order from that location and sit down to eat while video chatting from home. By having a shared experience it makes it feel like we're really out for dinner together, plus we're able to show our local restaurants some love. Social distancing dinner dates at its finest.
Tip: if you don't all live in the same town, perhaps choose a style of food instead of a specific location. For example, everyone orders sushi or cooks a classic family recipe from Grandma's favourite cookbook.
2. Choose a Background Theme
This works great for celebrating a specific person, especially if it's done as a surprise. On Zoom specifically you can set your background to whatever you like. For example, balloons for a friend's birthday, flowers for Mother's Day, etc.
Tip: get creative. Take it to the next level and make it more personal by choosing a background that is specific to the person being acknowledged. A friend of mine recently participated in a birthday celebration where everyone set their backgrounds to photos of Jake Gyllenhaal. Needless to say, the birthday girl is a huge fan and got a good laugh when she logged into the chat.
3. Costume Party
Choose a theme and have each person dress up for it! This could be as simple as everyone wearing cocktail attire and mixing corresponding drinks (did someone say little black dress and cosmo's?) or as elaborate Halloween costumes and corresponding makeup.
ACTS OF APPRECIATION
Pre-Covid, if a party were being hosted the simple act of attendance would often be a demonstration of appreciation in itself. You care about someone, you show up for them, you want to spend time with them and make memories together. Depending on the occasion, perhaps we would even take it one step further and bring a gift.
So how do we have this same affect now? It may require a little more vulnerability or creativity, but I guarantee the results will be equally if not more impactful.
1. Write a Letter
To this day my favourite gifts have come in the form of letters. They are a simple yet powerful tool to tell someone how you feel about them. You can reminisce about the times you've spent together, elaborate on how meaningful your friendship is and let them know how they've impacted your life. We often assume these things are known intuitively by one another, but trust me, this is a gift that will be cherished well beyond this pandemic.
2. Sharing is Caring
While video chatting, have each person go around and share something about the person you are celebrating. You can plan this in advance or do it on the spot for some spontaneity from the guests. A few examples are, "What's your favourite memory of ______ or "What are 3 qualities that come to mind when you think of ______."
Who doesn't like receiving a little surprise gift at their door or in the mail? For Easter I spent a Saturday mixing cocktails and delivering them to friends doorsteps as a little Easter bunny surprise. If you live in separate towns not to worry! Most businesses offer bill to, ship to options, which means you can purchase a gift and have it sent directly to the person of your choice (this is an option with Goldilocks, and you can leave a custom note!). This is also a great opportunity to shop new online local markets and support your local makers, helping everyone to feel good.