The coronavirus has postponed significant events across the globe, canceling everything from the Olympics to Broadway shows. But beyond the bigger headlines, it has also put the brakes on vacations and everyday celebrations, the kind that bring families and friends together for some of life’s special moments.
Just because you’re spending time at home doesn’t mean you can’t still commemorate. From celebrating proms, weddings and birthdays to still taking that “vacation,” all you need is just a little ingenuity and a lot of heart.
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The moment when you finally share the big pink or blue news can still happen. Make the event a virtual one and invite friends and family via FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or other online gateway and be creative. If you have ingredients on-hand for your favorite cake recipe, use food coloring to indicate the results before cutting it live for loved ones in a big reveal. Popping balloons or even coloring hard-boiled eggs pink and blue are other fun ways to announce.
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Though there are a lot of ways school has changed since you were a student, the significance of high school graduation remains the same. Despite many schools being closed and graduations postponed, the special day can still go on. Ask friends and family of the graduate to send video congratulations, texts or messages of support. Have everyone at home dress for the big day, including cap and gown if possible, and take photos. Create or print a stand-in diploma, then watch an inspiring commencement speech on YouTube from people like Oprah Winfrey or Stephen Colbert. Finish it off by playing “Pomp and Circumstance,” available on Spotify and other music streaming sites.
Many colleges, even the ones with the most school spirit, have had to postpone or cancel graduations. Missing college commencement can be especially difficult since students often come from different states and countries, making scheduling a new date a challenge. Many colleges are planning to host virtual graduations instead, including Harvard and Emerson. If yours isn’t one of them, host an online graduation celebration with friends and family and plan a rain-date party.
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A rite of passage for many high school students, prom is a tough one to miss. Make it a special day by still wearing a suit or prom dress and doing makeup and hair, and then have family members take pictures for sharing on social media. Break out the holiday lights, decorate a designated room and make dinner from an easy freezer recipe. Finally, coordinate a time to have a virtual dance party with friends and classmates through FaceTime, Facebook or Zoom.
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If you know how to host the perfect wedding shower, then it should be no problem to pivot and throw one online instead. This is a great time to surprise the happy bride or groom with a virtual get-together of friends and family in lieu of a real one. Have loved ones choose favorite photos or memories to share at the “gathering” and invite friends to practice their wedding toasts in advance. Gifts or gift cards for the couple can be purchased online and delivered from retailers like Macy’s, Crate and Barrel and Nordstrom.
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Send e-vite invitations to guests and celebrate the parents-to-be with an online baby shower. Whether it’s on Facebook or Skype, friends and relatives can weigh in on how to have a better relationship with your kids along with other parenting tips. Have attendees submit their own baby pictures ahead of time and see if others can guess who’s who. Gifts can easily be shipped. And just like other etiquette rules that need to come back, don’t forget to send digital “thank you” notes.
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There are a lot of wedding planning stresses you can’t control, including having to cancel or postpone the big day. While the big wedding may be on hold, still celebrate on your planned date by looking at pictures or videos of the two of you, recalling your favorite firsts or special memories together. Get dressed up, throw yourselves a fancy dinner at home or whip up a vintage recipe from days gone by and use the time to make plans for the new date.
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There are so many iconic, one-of-a-kind rides, restaurants and experiences at Disney World that it’s disappointing if your trip has been postponed. In the meantime, bring the magic home by embarking on a marathon of everyone’s favorite Disney movies. You can also imagine that you’re riding on some of the best Disney attractions, or watching parades, by viewing videos on YouTube. Finally, use the biscuit mix in your cupboard to make a batch of Mickey-shaped pancakes.
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You may have missed your cruise, but that doesn’t mean the ship has sailed. Set up beach chairs in the living room, make a pitcher of your favorite cocktail and kick back. Cook up an all-you-can-eat food buffet, put an ocean-inspired video on YouTube and it’ll be as close to the real deal as you can get without leaving your living room.
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Even though your trip might be on hold, the next best thing is doing free online tours of landmarks and museums you planned to visit. You can also study up on planned destinations for when you’re able to go or try your hand at making recipes from a specific region like pasta or Irish soda bread. If your vacation was to a favorite beach town, wait for a warm day, put on your suit and sunscreen, then spend a few hours in the backyard soaking up some sun.
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If a long-awaited retirement is finally here but the party is on hold, celebrate by cleaning out your email inbox, then create a bucket list for trips abroad you’d like to take when the time is right. You can also host an online retirement happy hour through Facebook or Skype, inviting coworkers and friends to attend and reminiscing about good times over a few signature drinks. It’s also a good time to reach out to former coworkers or past supervisors that you may have lost touch with through the years.
If the honeymoon is on hold, make the best of it at home by pulling out all the stops. You may not be dining out at the most romantic restaurant, but you can make it feel like it by lighting candles, dancing to a favorite playlist and maybe most important, putting away smartphones to focus on the two of you. Watch online videos that feature some of the best beaches in the world or most beautiful waterfalls so you know where to go when it’s time to rebook.
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Whether it’s your first or 50th, anniversaries are special. Start the morning with breakfast in bed just for the two of you while listening to a collection of your favorite shared songs. Relive your wedding day by watching the video and looking through pictures. Depending on when you got married, it might be fun to see how wedding trends have changed over the decades. Finish the day with a romantic movie marathon of classics like “When Harry Met Sally” and “Notting Hill.”
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Celebrate someone’s birthday by offering virtual hugs and messages via Skype or FaceTime. You can also make a sign or a batch of perfect cupcakes, then send in a picture or video of your creations because, after all, it really is the thought that counts. For at-home family members, dig out holiday decorations and hang them up. Why not? It’s a celebration. If it’s a milestone birthday, coordinate an online surprise party or have a themed party in your living room and broadcast it to friends and family.
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If your bachelorette party or any other special outing has been postponed, carve out a little “me time” by soaking in a long bath or relaxing with a good book. Dress in your favorite PJs, paint your nails, do a face mask and indulge in some childhood desserts you forgot existed.
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