Holidays and Special Events

Holidays and celebrations continue to look different as we adjust to life during the COVID-19 pandemic. While celebrating, it's important to help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 by observing social distancing policies, wearing a mask while in public, and washing your hands frequently and after all interactions. 

Needless to say, this can make observing religious events and celebrating special life moments challenging. Below, you’ll find tips on how to celebrate holidays while observing social distancing. 


July 4th celebrations

On July 4th, many people celebrate the birth of American independence with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades, and concerts to family gatherings and barbecues. Most cities and towns have canceled the parades and other large group events like fireworks to observe social distancing and keep everyone healthy and safe. There are still ways you and your family can honor July 4th. Here are some ideas:  

  • Watch the local and national fireworks on television or your favorite streaming network
  • Observe local fireworks displays following your state and local recommendations for group events, wear a mask, and keep a 6-foot distance between you and other attendees
  • Wear red, white and blue to visually commemorate the day

In addition to the public celebrations, many of us host picnics, cookouts, and barbecues with friends and family over July 4th weekend. Large group barbecues and picnics may not be possible this year, but you can still enjoy your favorite foods and beverages from your backyard or in a nearby park.  Remember to maintain 6-feet distance between you and others and wear a mask when visiting a store to pick-up burgers and hot dogs for your celebrations. Invite friends to join you via Facetime or another video call service.

Births, birthdays and anniversaries

Celebrating births, christenings, brit milot, birthdays, anniversaries, and many other life events are challenging right now. There are ways to recognize these events and share with even more friends and family as the party, gathering or celebration can be held virtually, which allows anyone to attend no matter where they are in the United States or elsewhere around the world. 

A friend of the Foundation, Zoe, attended a virtual birthday party using Zoom for her niece. The family sent out email invitations inviting everyone to the celebration. There was cake and everyone brought their own cupcake and beverage to the celebration

It’s important to continue recognizing the important events in our daily lives even during this difficult time. With a little planning, creativity, and visiting your favorite social media sites, you’ll find lots of idea for hosting virtual events in your home.

What technology to use?

There are numerous platforms that allow you to virtually gather groups together for meetings, networking, and special occasions. Many of these platforms are free while others charge an annual fee. We have listed a few below for easy reference.

Talk to your friends and family, by phone or email, about their favorite app or website. Consider using a platform your friends or family members use. Having a friend/family member available if you have technical issues is always helpful. You can also find lots of guidance on the web on how to use video applications including written instructions and video tutorials. 


  • Free to use, up to 100 participants for 40 minutes
  • Upgrade for a fee and 40-minute restriction removed 

Google Hangouts  

  • Free to use, up to 10 participants
  • Recently relaxed restrictions until July 1, 2020 and can now host up to 250 participants


  • Free to use, up to 50 participants for unlimited duration


  • Free to use, up to 200 participants

GoTo Meeting

  • Free to use, up to 26 participants
  • Upgrade for a fee to include up to 1,000 participants

Webex Meetings 

  • Free to use, up to 100 participants, no time limit

Ring Central

  • Free to use, up to 100 participants, 40-minute time limit


  • Plans starting at $50 per month

This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the video tools out there. Use your favorite search engine to find more resources to help you connect with friends and family to celebrate the holidays, birthdays, and other important and special occasions.



All information is reviewed by the Foundation's National Scientific Advisory Committee, with additional guidance provided by Dr. Ellen Scherl, Weill Cornell Medicine and Nahima Ahmed, MPH

Last updated June 2020