Here are a few ideas from the past with tweaks for today to make the most of your quarantine experience.

Restore family meal time

Over the last 20 years, family meals times have decreased more than 35%. Family meals today average 12 minutes compared to family meals 60 years ago which averaged 90 minutes. As we all seek to find structure in this chaotic time in history, schedule a set meal time to gather those in your quarantined space at the table. Savor the moment. 

Reclaim the Art of Conversation

Make table time technology free. Start each meal with a game of gratitude — allowing each person to say what they are thankful. This is an exercise to reframe the stress of the day and help build a more positive attitude amongst everyone. Ask clever questions: 

1. What is your dream vacation?

2. What is your favorite thing about this season of life?

3. What book or movie character do you most want to be?

4. What friend or family member do you admire and why? 

Set the Table

This is a wonderful lesson in etiquette to teach your children. If you’re looking for a homeschool lesson for ages 3 to 17, here you go. 

Setting the table was a daily ritual in our family and my chore every evening from the time I was in early elementary school until I left for college. Each night while my mom prepared dinner, I choose the placemats, placed the dinner plates, the silverware, napkins (usually paper) and filled our tea glasses with ice. It is now a ritual I’m starting with my young son. 

When you set the table... 

Use the good stuff! I wholeheartedly believe our china, linens and crystal should not be tucked away. If we ever needed to see its beauty, it is now. Several local boutiques are providing curbside pick-up or delivery of fun paper goods, fresh linens, dishes and fresh flowers to help put some color into these gray days. 

Gather Alone

There is an exception to every rule, if you’re single or are older living in an empty nest, technology is a gift. Gather your friends or family virtually on Zoom/FaceTime. Share a blessing over a meal or a toast at happy hour. If your gang is local, order take out/delivery and support the same restaurant just as you would if you were out in the town together. 

Make a Moveable Feast

Enjoy a night dining alfresco. As the weather begins to cooperate, consider moving your dining outdoors. Don’t limit it to the back porch. Put a table in your front yard or driveway. Coordinate with neighbors on a night where everyone will be outside. How fun it would be to wave and visit from afar! 

Let’s get creative with connection in this time of isolation. Seize the unique opportunity to strengthen our families while protecting our community. Yes, these are strange days, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make beautiful memories.

JoBeth McElhanon is the founder and chief celebration officer of Lilias & Olive. When she's not planning a fine event, she's probably out taking a walk with her preschooler.