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Eid tips and ideas for individuals, families and communities

With Eid-ul-Adha almost a week away, planning for the occasion can't be left to the last minute. Like Eid-ul-Fitr, this Eid needs planning and preparation as well.

Here are some tips and ideas, whether you're on your own, with your family, or want to get the community involved:

FOR INDIVIDUALS

1. Clean and decorate the home

Make the house as spotless as possible. Since the weather is getting warmer, consider white washing the house and putting mattresses and bedding outside to air out. Clean out those hard to reach places (or the ones you'd rather forget about).

Then decorate with lights, banners, streamers, etc. Put an Islamic song on the CD or cassette player so you can sing or hum along while you work. The ideal one would be A Whisper of Peace which features the song "These are the Days of Eid".

2. Cook for the occasion

If you've been living on Halal takeout food, take note: Eid can't really be special if you put no effort into it in the kitchen. Think about what made Eid special for you back home or when you were with your family. In many cases, it was because mom went all out and cooked up a storm the night or a few nights before for the occasion.

So use those pots and pans that may have been sitting idle in your cupboard and try your hand at making something easy but special. You don't even have to share it with anyone if you really think it's a flop. But at least it will give you a sense of accomplishment and if it does work out, it will add to the feeling that Eid is special, not just "another day off".

3. Arrange a gift exchange with friends

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Exchange presents with one another, for they remove ill feelings from the heart. (Tirmidhi).

Eid is a great occasion to do this. A gift exchange can be with just a couple of friends or even acquaintances. Giving and getting gifts is a great way to increase in brotherhood and love on this occasion.

Remember though, that gifts should not burn a hole in your wallet. They should be affordable, well thought out, and of course Halal.

4. Get a new outfit

If you've been dragging out the same dress, suit, etc. for Eid day these past few years, invest in a new one this Eid. If you're really tight in the finances department, at least make the necessary effort to launder and/or dry clean what you want to wear. Don't just do this for the actual clothes you wear, but also do it for your jacket and scrub your shoes also.

5. Attend Eid prayers

It will really feel like Eid if you attend the prayers. Be part of not just the congregation but the Dua (supplications) following the prayer. You'll feel the community spirit and Eid will really feel like Eid.

6. Hug the strangers

If you're on your own, you know how lonely and sad Eid can be watching others hug each other while you stand on the sidelines. This Eid, make it a point to hug those Muslims you notice standing alone, with no family or friends with them. Invite them over, make plans to get to know each other or at least tell them about any upcoming Eid community events.

An interesting story on the power of hugging: in one Muslim community in central Canada, a man watched curiously as Muslims were hugging each other following one of the Eid prayers. He inquired as to why they were doing this, studied Islam, and later became a Muslim.

7. Visit relatives and friends

Call up that uncle you haven't seen in months and arrange to drive the extra hour or so to visit him on Eid. Or do the same for the best friend who lives farther away. Maybe if you suggest this, you can actually end up spending the whole day with them.

FOR FAMILIES

1. Plan in advance

Call a family meeting and plan what you want to do on the days of Eid and Tashreeq. Invite others over one day, then visit others on the next day? Or vice-versa?

Discuss ideas with the family, including all of the kids. Also, talk about the menu and delegate cooking responsibilities instead of dumping the whole workload on mom. Make something special which the family does not normally eat, it can be sweet, sour or in-between.

And make sure EVERYONE has a day off from work, school or any other commitments.

2. Clean and decorate the home

Get the whole family to make the house is virtually spotless, decorate it with balloons, lights, banners, streamers,etc. Get the younger kids to make decorative signs saying "Eid Mubarak" and post these around the house.

Put an Islamic song on the CD or cassette player so everyone can sing or hum along while they work. The ideal one would be A Whisper of Peace which features the song "These are the Days of Eid".

3. Set up a family gift exchange

Put each family member's name in a Kufi and have each person pull one out. Whoever picks a person's name has to buy or make that person a gift. One catch: babies have to get gifts from everyone.

4. Buy and/or prepare Eid clothes

Invest in Eid and try to make sure everyone has something new or at least has their nice clothes ready following dry cleaning and laundering.

5. At Eid prayer, look for those who are alone and invite them over

At the Eid prayer place, where a lot of hugging goes on, you will find some Muslims standing alone. They are either new Muslims or new immigrants without relatives and friends. Do hug them and greet them. If possible invite them to your home for a meal. Also inform them of any planned Eid celebrations at any community center.

6. BBQ

The weather has been getting much warmer up North. Take advantage of this and have a barbecue in your backyard. Invite your neighbors over too, and do some Dawa. Tell them about Eid and Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him).

7. Visit relatives and friends

Make a point to visit those far away especially. There is almost no better time than Eid. Since Eid is celebrated for more than a day, make it a point to go at least one of these days to see an uncle, aunt, cousin, etc.

8. Have the youngest lead in Takbirs

It is a Sunnah to say the Takbirs (Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illa Allah, etc.) on the way to Eid prayers. Have the youngest in the family do this.

COMMUNITIES

1. Inform the media

Send a press release to the media from your mosque (see sample press release and tell them about Eid prayers. Arrange for photo opportunities and have statistics ready about your Muslim community (i.e. how many Muslims live there). Set up a committee to deal with the media on the day of Eid.

2. An Eid luncheon or dinner or BBQ

Get volunteers to help make the food. The event would be held shortly after people have completed their Eid sacrifices.

If lunch is too close by, try dinner. Even better, have an outdoor barbecue if the weather is nice. Remember, the key is make it simple. If getting it catered is too expensive, try getting volunteers to make the food.

3. Kids' Eid activity day

Kids really need to feel that Eid is special, given the hype around Christmas, and to a lesser degree, Hanukkah. They need rides, games, cotton candy, the works. Make it simple. Get some dedicated, organized volunteers, especially young adults, and have them arrange good, old-fashioned kids' games outside the mosque area: tag, beanbag races, etc.

And of course, have lots of candy ready to give out.

4. Takbirs

The mosques should be resounding with Takbirs on Eid. Instead of just grabbing any brother standing around to recite the Takbirs, arrange to get a group of young brothers to do it and prepare well in advance. It could very well be the best Takbirs you've heard in your life!

5. Have a sports competition outside the mosque

Get the Imam and mosque administrators/parents to play against young Muslim brothers. It can also be baseball, hockey or cricket if that's what everyone likes to play. The point is not to beat the competition, but to have fun, build community and Eid spirit and youth confidence in the leadership. Have kids nine and under be "cheerleaders" for the different teams.

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