Young woman wrapping a gift for a celebration.

6 Celebration Ideas for When You Can’t Be Together

Updated April 22, 2021 . AmFam Team

Discover ideas for celebrating together with friends and family — even when you find yourself apart.

Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations — there’s a reason celebrations make us feel so good!

The secret? Our loved ones. In fact, studies show that time spent connecting with our dearest friends and family members has the power to lower stress, improve mental wellness — and even boost our physical health.

So how can you keep enjoying and sharing life’s celebrations despite social distancing or being unable to travel to see those you love? From Mother’s and Father’s Day to other milestone moments, discover fresh ideas for coming together — even when you find yourself apart.

Share a New Adventure

It’s hard not being able to see friends and family for special occasions, and even harder to feel like you’re missing out on making new memories with them. That’s where a shared experience like a virtual city walking tour or live-streamed comedy night can revive celebratory feelings of togetherness and fun — even if you’re not physically together. Not sure where to start? Gather your group and try one of Airbnb’s virtual experiences, or grab your seats at a free online event from American Family’s DreamBank!

Revive the Care Package

Don’t underestimate the power of a box of goodies! Whether you send baked goods compliments of your kitchen or a silly selection of store-bought trinkets, care packages have a way of making people feel celebrated and loved. If you’re struggling for ideas, consider compiling a themed box around a passion or interest of the recipient. Or, think about a dream they’re pursuing and fill a box with items to help them on the journey to their goal — an inspirational book, colorful pens and post-it notes to stay organized, along with a dream journal to track their progress.

Press Record

Video chatting is great, but if you already do it often with loved ones, it can start to feel too mundane for a special occasion. Instead, record a quick video on your smartphone sharing a special celebratory message of why you’re thankful for the person. If you’re feeling ambitious, ask friends and family to send you individual messages and combine them into a montage of well wishes with an app like iMovie or Splice. The best part? The recipient can re-watch your masterpiece anytime to feel close, connected and loved long after the day of celebration has passed.

Send a Personalized Calendar

Even if you can’t be together this year, celebrate by giving your loved one a reminder of all the fun that’s to come when you can finally reunite! Grab a calendar and mark upcoming dates — birthdays, holidays and anniversaries with colorful pens. Next, jot down small, personal notes about why you love the person and what you’re looking forward to enjoying with them. For example, notes like “Can’t wait to have your amazing pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving — it’s the BEST” can keep bringing joy throughout the whole year. Use a store-bought calendar, or customize one with family photos for an extra personal touch.

DIY Together

From virtual cooking classes to online crafting experiences, there’s no shortage of creative outlets that can help you mark an occasion from afar! Popular DIY class services like Craftsy are fun if you’re looking for an instructor-led experience for your group — otherwise you can save money and opt for a cozier experience by choosing a simple craft or recipe to make over a video call together. Hello, Pinterest (Opens in a new tab)!

Coordinate a Card Shower

Imagine the feeling of opening your mailbox to find it overflowing with letters of love and admiration. Pretty special, right? Card showers are simple to plan from afar and can be easily adjusted for any celebration. Simply send an email to a group of family and friends listing the recipient’s name, address, and the date of their special day, and enjoy knowing how surprised and delighted they will be when the cards start flowing in all at once.

While it might not feel the same, celebrating from afar still has amazing benefits for you — and the ones you love. Whether you’re missing mom on Mother’s Day or honoring a friend’s milestone birthday, finding new ways to celebrate offers an instant mood boost and the chance to create memory-making moments together. And who knows, you might even start a new, favorite tradition in the process!

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