Creative ideas to make your Memorial Day weekend great, even in quarantine

Quarantine blues probably have you contemplating what to do with your summer since summer isn’t really going to feel like summer.

The weather will be warmer, the sun shining longer, but the freedom the warm month’s offer won’t be there. Continued measures of social distancing will happen even as states begin reopening the economy during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As Memorial Day weekend – the unofficial start to summer – makes its way into our not-so-busy calendars, it’s difficult to envision doing any celebration we considered normal a year ago. New York City beaches are closed, while other spots around the state are limiting capacity to local residents only. Bars remain closed and your getaway planned months ago isn’t happening either. You’re not alone: 48% of respondents in a recent survey said they canceled summer travel plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gatherings at coastal towns won’t be happening either, nor will the annual barbeque at the friend’s house with the lavish pool occur. ButJ

“What this whole COVID-19 business has taught us is a lot of people have suddenly reconnected with the outdoors,” Kris Kiser, president of the TurfMutt Foundation, told Ladders. “People are reconnecting and are better understanding the value of the outdoors. The nice thing about – one size doesn’t fit all. The nice thing about nature is you can tailor it to meet your particular needs.”

The TurfMutt Foundation, which had reached more than 70 million children, educators, and families, helps people learn more about the planet and how to save it through efforts in their own backyard. With families limited to the confines of their homes, it seems like a perfect opportunity to think about transforming your outdoor living space, just as you’ve likely turned parts of your home into remote learning and working stations.

Kiser highlighted some ideas to get the most of your Memorial Day weekend including a backyard staycation, a mixture of activities where families can create their own getaway by incorporating dining, camping, and games in the comfort of their yards. Things like creating a fire pit can go nicely with pitching a tent to give your family a unique camping experience. Having themed weekends where maybe one week it’s a luau that can be fun with everyone dressing the part with appropriate activities and foods for the event.

Even creating an outdoor play space or fort space for kids can be extremely beneficial.

“You have to drag them to get your kids to put down their devices. Sometimes if you just put them in a space, it doesn’t take them long to disconnect,” Kiser said.

Other ideas Kiser suggested include using everyday appliances such as lounge chairs or a wheelbarrow to create a family field day. But there’s more you can do with the downtime from COVID-19, all starting in your yard. Planting grass seeds or plants can be a rewarding experience for both adults and children. Kiser said by planting certain plants, the wildlife it attracts can provide a pleasant experience for all.

“Do you live in any migratory patterns? Everyone has these flyways with lots of insects and birds,” he said. “Figure out what’s flying overhead what time of year, go find the right plants for that and they’ll stop and rest and recharge.”

Even for those stuffed in city apartments, Kiser said you only need a pot to watch what can happen either in your yard or on your windowsill.

“There are different kinds of azaleas. Some will flower for 3-4 months, some will bloom once a year. Find something that’ll continue to flower and it will draw in a bunch of stuff,” he said.

Kiser said pollinators would be the first, followed by insects that attract birds but can also attract squirrels, which can be destructive. If you’re looking for more space, communal gree spaces are an option too where you can have some say in how local gardens are designed.

“Nature starts at your backdoor,” Kise said. “Google it – figure out what you can do with where you live and it’ll give you lots of options.”