Part of making Eid special includes removing those obstacles that lead to stress and frustration. This can range from getting lost on the way to prayers to discovering an unsightly stain on new clothes at the last minute.
Preparing a day and more in advance helps stave off potential problems and helps everyone enjoy the holiday in style and calm. Here are 14 things you can do to help make Eid happy and comfortable for all.
1. Don’t rely on the GPS
While Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are all the rage, they have been known to err, sometimes at the worst moments. Just in case, print out directions to your Eid prayer location the night before and put them in the glove compartment. You can still use the GPS the next day, but this way, you’re at least covered if it’s giving you the wrong directions or its battery suddenly dies.
2. Hold an Eid dress rehearsal at least two or three nights before
Have everyone try on their clothes at least two nights before Eid to inspect them for tears, stains, and anything else unsightly. This gives you time to run out and buy something else instead of getting a nasty surprise the day of.
If you’ve got the time and inclination, turn your basement or living room into a runway and have your models catwalk down.
3. Iron clothes the night before
Once the clothes have been picked out, waste no time ironing and hanging them up. Doing this the night before helps you get everything ready while you’re still calm, thus less likely to burn the clothes in a last minute ironing rush.
4. Set the Eid breakfast table the night before
Setting bowls, plates, and utensils, along with some nice balloons and an Eid banner over the table is a nice way to set the tone for the morning of Eid-ul-Adha. Doing it the night before reduces the morning rush as you’re scrambling to get everything else ready.
5. Split up the kids for Eid prayer
Decide which kids will go with which parent the day before Eid prayers. Too often, fathers dump the entire responsibility of taking care of the children on mothers' shoulders. The situation often becomes unmanageable as moms may not be able to watch all of the kids.
One way of doing this is by separating the siblings who fight the most. Another is by keeping the girls with mom and the boys with dad. Or babies (birth to three years) with mom and kids (four to seven-years-old) with dad. Every family is unique so parents can decide how to split up the kids. Regardless of how it's done, the point is to reduce disruption for parents and for others and to keep the kids in tow.
6. Talk to the kids about proper behavior
Explain to them before going that while Eid is a time of happiness, fun and celebration, it is not appropriate to run, jump, shout and play hide-and-seek with other kids at the prayer place. Throwing in an enticing reward (i.e. a promise to go out for ice cream or the park later that day if they behave) may also encourage kids to save the fun and games for after prayers.
Also explain that they must sit still and be quiet during the explanation of the prayer, during the prayer (if they are not praying) and the Khutba that follows. Advise them to whisper in Mommy or Daddy's ear if they need anything and must talk to them.
7. Take a bag to put your shoes in
This way, you can freely move around if necessary to straighten up your line in prayer, since you won't be worrying about where you've put your shoes. Have each family member make their own bag if there's time, and get the younger kids to decorate theirs. Everyone should put their initials on the bag and remember to carry it with them at all times.
8. Take your own rugs or sheets with you to pray
Although arrangements are usually made to have a sheet or paper to pray on, encourage everyone in your family to bring their own, just in case.
9. Take extra clothes, dry snacks, juice boxes, and quiet toys for small kids
These will prove invaluable should the baby leak through her brand new Eid clothes in the car or the toddler starts complaining about hunger or thirst right before prayer begins. A book or quiet toy per child will also prove invaluable if the kids start becoming antsy during the Khutba.
10. Bathroom visit before leaving
This is a must especially for kids under 10. While Eid prayer places do have bathrooms, getting to them in the midst of a huge crowd can mean an “accident” or missing Eid prayer altogether.
11. Say the Takbirat in the car
In particular, have the younger kids lead it with everyone else following. This way, their energy and excitement will dissipate and they won't be so hyper at the Eid prayer place.
12. Be quiet while the Imam is explaining how to pray
Out of respect for those who may not know how to perform Eid prayer, remain silent or at least whisper if necessary so as not to disturb those trying to hear the Imam’s explanation of how to do so.
13. Straighten your lines in prayer
Make sure to stand shoulder to shoulder and in straight lines facing the Qibla for the Eid prayer.
14. Be quiet during the Khutbah
After the Eid prayer, the Imam will give a brief Khutbah. It is highly encouraged to stay and listen to it. Even if you do have to get up and leave, this should be done as quietly as possible so as not to disturb those who are listening.
15. Greet those whom you know and those you don't
Say Salam and hug the person next to you once the Khutbah is over. Isn't it ironic that we stand so physically close to someone in prayer (shoulder to shoulder) but completely ignore them once it's over? Hug your prayer neighbor and at least wish them Eid Mubarak.
If they are alone, invite them over or get their phone number and inform them of any Eid activities that are coming up in your community. They may be new to the community and know nobody, so be as open and friendly as possible.
A man once asked Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, what aspect of Islam was the best, and he said: You should provide food, and greet both those you know and those you do not (Bukhari, Muslim).
16. Contribute to the arrangement of the Eid prayers
Some places may pass around a box or bag seeking donations to cover the cost of renting the Eid prayer place. Give generously, since it normally costs thousands of dollars to book the space.
17. Look for the Muslim leadership and volunteer corps and congratulate them
How often do you see Muslims thanking their leaders and volunteers, those who work so hard for the community with minimal to no pay. Seek these people out and give them your Eid greetings. Thank them for all of their hard work for the community. Make sure your older children do the same.
18. Get the family to help out with clean up
Volunteer to help clean up the prayer area after everyone has left. This is also a time when you may see Muslims who don't have family in the community or are new Muslims. Greet them and invite them over or at least inform them of any upcoming Eid activities.