Being away from the people we love is hard. Particularly during a time when you are most in need of comfort and support.
While we can’t hug all of our loved ones, curl up with them, or even share a cup of tea over the kitchen table, there are things we can do to cheer them up, and show them we care.
Oh, what I would give to just go out for coffee with my closest friends. I want to envelope my two cousins into the most almighty hug. I want to stand on a sunny street corner outside a pub and drink a lukewarm gin and tonic with my mates. I miss simple pleasures like popping over to a friends’ house on a ‘school night’ to order a takeaway and watch trash TV.
I can’t do any of those things right now. None of us can. But there are creative ways we can show our love and support for our nearest and dearest ones during this challenging time.
I asked the good people of Twitter the creative ways they were sending love to friends and family while in lockdown. Their responses were full of beautiful, moving, kind gestures that are absolutely guaranteed to bring a smile to people’s faces.
Some are sending care packages of people’s favourite treats, others are embracing the good old fashioned art of writing a letter. And some are even cycling past a loved one’s house and asking them to come to the window to wave.
Here are just a few thoughtful suggestions for bringing a smile to your loved ones faces right now.
Send a care package
If your loved one lives some distance away from you, sending them a care package is a really nice gesture that’ll almost certainly bring joy. My relatives live in Northern Ireland, so my mum and I sent biscuits and tea from Whittard to my two aunts who are both self-isolating as they’re in the at-risk category.
Sasha Wilkins told me she sends her mother a care package once a week packed with little jars of jam, hand cream, and her favourite fruit pastilles. “Stocked up before the lockdown so that I would have enough supplies for two months. I’m also sending cards to friends and family all over the world in the post,” she said.
If you want someone else to organise the logistics for you while you just pick the goodies, online retailers like Discover Delicious, Borough Box, and Izzy Bee let you choose and purchase a care package for loved ones.
Leave baked goods on their doorstep
I really love this idea from Jodie Goodacre. She’s been stress-baking and leaving parcels of baked goods on the doorsteps of neighbours, friends, and family.
Hold a virtual afternoon tea session
Author and food writer MiMi Aye celebrated Burmese New Year’s Day by having virtual tea with her folks. Aye found a cafe that delivered afternoon tea and ordered one set for her parents and another one for herself. They enjoyed it together over a video call.
It’s Burmese New Year’s Day today.
I really wanted to spend the day with my parents somehow and found a cafe (The Chunky Teapot) that did delivery afternoon tea.
So I ordered one set for my folks and one set for us, and we all had tea together ❤️
— MiMi Aye (@meemalee) April 16, 2020
Post letters and homemade cards
Good old-fashioned snail mail was a big theme in the replies to my tweet. Some said they were making handmade cards and posting them to loved ones — journalist Basia Cummings said she’d also been posting wild garlic through her friends’ letterboxes as well as homemade cards.
Some recommended Pigeon Posted — a decorative eco-friendly form of stationery that doubles up as both letter and envelope. Touchnote lets you design and create your own cards to send to people. Papier has a big range of stationery you can personalise with your own name — fancy! Check out the Positive Postcard Club for handwritten notes of love and hope designed by illustrator Ella Masters.
Hold a virtual puppet show
If you’re missing small humans from your family, you could host a virtual puppet show over Zoom.
This idea came from Paul Stollery, who’s been experimenting with puppet shows. “I did not expect me being a puppet enthusiast to be an outcome of the lockdown but here we are,” he told me.
“I have been experimenting with puppets on green screen which was really fun. I also plan on seeing whether I can do a puppet show that blends in augmented reality — using things like the alpaca filter on the snap camera and Adobe Character Animator, too.”
Set up a book exchange
You might not be able to meet up with your book club and chat about the riveting book you’ve been poring over, but you can always hold a virtual book club meeting over Zoom or Google Meet.
Once you’ve finished reading a good book, you could pass it on to a friend, by leaving it on their doorstep or popping it in the post. You could even leave a shoebox of books outside your home if you’re happy to donate books to strangers and passers-by. You could also support independent bookstores by gifting a book to a loved one.
Indulge their hobbies
My mum’s friend Jenny has sent her ‘hugs in the post’ — featuring hand-sewn craft projects including a hand-knitted tea cosy and a patchwork bag. For green-fingered friends, you could pop a packet of seeds through their letterbox, leave plants or bunches of flowers on their doorstep. If they enjoy the odd spot of baking and you have spare flour you can give them, share your bounty. If you’re into jam and chutney making, a jar of homemade goodness left on a doorstep could brighten someone’s day.
If none of those things are your thing, you could order your friend or family member a jigsaw puzzle or board game.
Post a picture of a rainbow in your window
If you have small children, or perhaps even just a flair for drawing, you could take part in the “rainbow trails” that have been popping up all over the UK. The rainbow is rapidly becoming a symbol of hope and solidarity during lockdown, and seeing children’s rainbow paintings in windows are bringing cheer to our daily walks.
If you can afford to, it can be really helpful to send food boxes or groceries to people who aren’t able to leave their homes. Try Morrisons Food Boxes and The Cookaway. It’s worth researching local bakeries, farms, butchers, and other small businesses who could deliver to your loved one.
These are dark, difficult times we’re living in. Now, more than ever before, we need to take care of our loved ones and ourselves. Showing someone that you love them and are thinking of them can make the world of difference.