How to plan an Easter to remember in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic

Easter might be different this year, but it can still be great.
/ Source: TODAY

Please tell me I am not the only parent who — in the midst of a global coronavirus pandemic, working from home with all of us adjusting to distance learning — let Easter (April 12) sneak up on me.

Usually, I would have grabbed chocolate, jellybeans, and trinkets during one of my regular grocery or Target runs, or I would have at least done a last-minute panic order online. Then, my children would still be at school when I squirreled away the goodies.

Now, two-day shipping is not always guaranteed, and my children are staring me in the face, all day, every day. The Peeps factory even closed down due to safety concerns related to the coronavirus, as did beloved See's Candies.

That's not even addressing other Easter traditions, like church, or family brunch or dinner, all of which aren't happening.

Perhaps more than ever, it is important for families who celebrate to provide a sense of stability. But how?

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Here are some ideas from fellow parents for a coronavirus-safe Easter:

Online church services will help connect people

A global pandemic will not stop churches from celebrating with their congregants, but Pastor Chris Johnson from Holy Cross Lake Mary in Lake Mary, Florida, told TODAY Parents that churches are still having to adapt.

"Ideally, we would all be physically together, but this year it's just not responsible, so we will be meeting online," he said. "The good news is the resurrection of Jesus, the Easter message, is timeless and applies to everyone. It's a message of hope and victory."

Johnson expects 2020's Easter services to be "a lot more interactive," with pastors on Facebook and YouTube responding to questions and comments during the sermons.

There are advantages to online church for weary parents, too: Though there is something nice about dressing up for Easter, I can't say I will miss arguing about whether or not a polo shirt and athletic shorts count as "fancy clothes."

Remember small and local businesses for Easter basket goodies

Small businesses are suffering from the lack of customer traffic. But many will still deliver or offer curbside pickup.

For her young children, Skokie, Illinois, mom of two Michele Neuendorf ordered the usual egg dyeing kits and candy, but then she went a step further. "I also ordered books from local independent bookstore for their baskets," she told TODAY Parents.

After she struck out trying to order chocolate online, Winter Park, Florida, mom of two Sunshine Newsom decided to support a local business, Peterbrooke Chocolatier, instead. "Peterbrooke is still open for curbside service," she said. "Normally, I would never buy my children chocolate bunnies as fancy as these, but this year, it’s a win-win."

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Online outlets are still shipping and delivering

Though Amazon is prioritizing the delivery of essential items, there are still products in stock that might get quick delivery in time for Easter.

If you are scrambling, Melissa Buckles and Heidi Timms, the moms behind Everyday Savvy, have assembled Easter basket ideas for kids of any age.

TODAY.com has great gifts and toys for children of various ages or the quarantine-friendly best games for family game nights.

Yes, there is such a thing as a social distance-friendly egg hunt

It's pretty easy to set up an egg hunt in your backyard, but neighborhoods and churches are getting creative this year and planning their own hunts, too.

"Our children’s director at church is working hard to try to create a virtual Easter egg hunt using egg signs with QR codes to link to fun social distancing activities," said Seattle, Washington, area mom of four Carson Sanderson. "She is hoping to make a one-mile loop in the neighborhood around the church so that families can either walk or drive it."

Heather Parsons' neighborhood in Murfreesboro, Tennessee will take a cue from the popular teddy bear-hunts: "My neighborhood usually does an Easter egg hunt. Instead, we are coloring Easter egg pictures and putting them in our windows for kids to find," she said.

You can still have family celebrations

By far, the biggest loss will be the inability to hug and spend in-person time with loved ones this holiday. However, many families will get together... from a distance.

Kim Oppelt, a mom of two in Duluth, Minnesota, whose family has been using Zoom chats to connect, can't see her 90-something grandparents in person. "This year, we’re thinking we’ll all tune into the same church service and drop off some food with my grandparents and probably wave to them outside their window," she said.

Parents agree that the coronavirus has taken enough away this spring; for families who celebrate Easter, the show must go on.

"With all that's been lost to this virus, this year will not be the end of the Easter Bunny," said Palm Beach, Florida, mother of two Melissa Smith. "We'll still do an egg hunt. The best part will be our virtual celebration with family. We did it yesterday for birthdays, and it was the best to get to see everyone all at once in their party hats."