Kendall here, back with another Real Women Approved post all about the incredible, sweet and downright creative ways you all are celebrating special occasions and marking milestones during quarantine!
From weddings that have endured a major change of plans or have been postponed altogether to graduations, showers, birthdays and more, there are still so many beautiful occasions to celebrate during this season of isolation. I asked you all to submit the fun ways you’ve been celebrating from afar and as always, you really delivered!
Of course, everything is different right now. We can’t give our loved ones a big hug, celebrate in large groups and travel to special events. However, it’s been so inspiring to see the ways we are all adjusting to still show up for friends and family, let others know we are thinking of them and making sure their accomplishments aren’t going unnoticed.
If you’re working on celebrating an upcoming event or are just looking for ideas to brighten someone’s day, check out all the wonderful ideas GG readers have! Without further ado:
How to Celebrate Special Occasions and Milestones From Afar
It truly is the thought that counts
Now, more than ever, it truly is the thought that counts! With smaller budgets and longer shipping times, your typical go-to’s for special occasions might not be an option right now. If you live close enough to drop off handmade goodies for friends and family, consider whipping up some baked goods (like a birthday cake) with a handwritten card and leaving it on the front porch!
If you’re looking to send some cheer to faraway friends, gift subscriptions are a great way to make someone’s day. Small Packages is a care package company that makes it so easy to send boxes by occasion. From Mother’s Day and a new baby to self-care and thank yous, they offer a variety of options to send personalized goodies. Pro tip- use code JESSKEYS for 15% off your order!
Equilibria also just launched their beautiful “Thank you, Mom” bath & body box for Mother’s Day, which is a lovely thing to send mom from afar! Use code JESSKEYS for 20% off your first purchase.
Don’t discount the element of surprise
I think one of the biggest ways to add some “oomph” to any celebration right now is the element of surprise! I had a planned Zoom call with my closest girlfriends the other night (which was already incredibly exciting for me!), and one of my friends had secretly asked another close group of college friends to join. Both groups had no idea the other was going to be on and I actually cried when I suddenly saw everyone! 😭😭
It was such a simple gesture that made the conversation that much more special! And this was just a standard catch up! Imagine secretly setting up someone’s grandma for a virtual baby shower or a whole bunch of friends for a birthday?! Surprises are the best! Pro tip- host a planned Zoom meeting so the person you’re surprising will definitely make the time and be prepared!
Turn to personalization
Obviously sending a gift, flowers or some bubbly is a wonderful way to let someone know you’re thinking of them (during quarantine or not), but adding a little personalization can really beef up the gesture!
For example, instead of sending a gift card or bottle of bubbly, look into restaurants or liquor stores close to your friend. So many local businesses are offering incredible packages right now- such as date night dinners, drink specials, and more!
While any gift is appreciated, a personalized local option from their favorite restaurant takes the cake! If you live near an Eataly, they are offering a ton of fun things right now, including cocktail kits!
Make a video
Many people have taken to creating curating heartwearming, funny videos to celebrate everything from birthdays to weddings from afar. Ask loved ones to record a short video message, and compile them into one video using software like iMovie!
Celebrate with a fancy meal “out”
Whether it’s for you, or a friend, quarantine doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your favorite splurge-worthy restaurant! Many restaurants, even high-end ones, are offering takeout and even pre-fixe, multi-course meals. Arrange to pay for a nice meal for a friend, or yourself!
Chicago favorites include BLVD’s steak frites (re-crisp the fries in the cast iron or oven!), my favorite Osteria Rusticana for amazing Italian, and my friends have been raving about Alinea’s take and bake options!
Not sure where to find a good spot in your area? Time Out and Eater are always good sources!
Do a #FrontPorchProject style photoshoot
I think this is such a special way to document a wedding day (or what would’ve been your wedding day) in quarantine, for yourself, or for a friend whose wedding is impacted.
Dress up (doesn’t have to be your REAL wedding attire, but it can be! I think that would be so special!) and hire a photographer to snap photos of you in front of your house from a safe distance. A beautiful way to document the day, the times that we’re in, and still make it feel special! You could also do the same for family photos, an anniversary, or engagement photos!
Social Distancing Ideas for Birthdays
“For my birthday, my friends drew chalk outside my building and sent a Grubhub gift card so I could order out dinner for our birthday Zoom.” — Jillian
Have a flip cup tournament
“We’re doing a virtual flip cup tournament on Zoom this weekend for my friend’s birthday!” — Alex
(Tip: This article has a video on how to do it!)
Commit to a theme
The second best alternative to a surprise party? A ZOOM surprise party! This was a popular suggestion by many, and can be used for pretty much any occasion. Trick the attendee into thinking it’s just for one or two other friends, and invite everyone! Customize the background to suit the celebration.
For a birthday, have everyone use a background of balloons! For a “should have been” destination wedding, have everyone use pictures of the destination as their backgrounds!
Organize a car parade
From birthdays to wedding dates, to your parents’ milestone anniversary, car parades are ALWAYS a great option to celebrate an occasion!
“We did a 20-car parade past my fiance’s great-grandmother’s house for her birthday!” — Alyssa
“We did a virtual fitness class for a friend’s birthday! So fun to do a dance party!” — Kennan
Party in the driveway
“A neighbor hosted a driveway party for her kid. Everyone came in a car parade, kept their distance and played with chalk.” — Emily
Compile well wishes in a fun way
“For my sister’s birthday, I made a pinata filled with candy and notes from all of her friends” — Nat
Throw a game night
“For one of my friend’s birthdays, we all gathered on Zoom for a birthday happy hour and game night! We used the Houseparty app to play virtual games, and we played for hours!” — Kendall
A curbside baby welcoming
(Pictured above!) Jess’ friend Amy (of local brand, Vo Jewelry) showed up to her friend Ali’s house (of Alice + Wonder!) with an army of loved ones and huge lettered signs to welcome her new baby, Wells, from afar! ❤️
Social Distancing Ideas for Graduations
Mark the occasion
“I’m having a backyard ceremony at my house and buying a special dress to mark the occasion!” — Alexia
Host a mock graduation
“I’m a college senior and my family is putting on a mock graduation for me!” — Fran
Send celebratory champagne
“I had a Zoom dental school graduation and Uber delivered surprise cake and champagne from friends!” — Margaret
Social Distancing Ideas for Showers
Pick a theme
If the shower is small enough, have each attendee order some small decorations that are on theme that they can showcase in the background. If it’s a large crowd, send the bride or mom-to-be all the decorations, so her background is all decked out! Amazon has a great selection of bridal shower and baby shower decor with fast shipping! A dress code/theme is also a fun way to get everyone participating! Luau, Kentucky Derby, nautical and garden party would be such fun themes to dress for!
“For a baby shower, we all dressed up for a tea party and played games!” — Danielle
“We all sent my sister-in-law gifts so she could open them virtually for us all to see on Facebook Live!” — Alyssa
Just because a shower is virtual doesn’t mean you can’t play games! This article has a ton of ideas for virtual baby shower games. Arguably the best shower game is “The Shoe Game” which can easily be played virtually–for both wedding or baby showers. See the rules here!
Set some structure
“Because showers can draw a lot of attendees, use the Zoom breakout rooms feature to temporarily create smaller groups. This will allow the bride or mom-to-be to get some facetime with everyone, open their gift and personally thank them!” — Kendall (Tip: Refinery29 has a great article on how to utilize this feature here!)
Do a “sip and see” for new babies
In lieu of (or in addition to!) a traditional shower, host a “sip and see” with groups of friends or family when mom and baby are feeling up to it! Everyone drinks mimosas and can see the baby, and mom can fill everyone in on the details!
Take a “virtual” trip!
Jess’ friend Whitney of The Blonde Atlas has just opened affordable online courses to give you a crash course on different destinations. If you had planned a trip to celebrate a special occasion with a loved one, this could be a fun way to celebrate instead!
Her next class is “Paris like a Local” (since sadly the Paris reader trip will not be happening in May as planned! 😭) Here’s a quick description:
“We’ll walk you through some key elements of understanding French culture, which tourist traps you should avoid (and which popular attractions are worth the hype). We’ll also each be sharing a few of our local favorites we’ve discovered over the years spending extensive time there.”