For a number of Muslim families, Eid is simply a twice-yearly routine that doesn't change: get up, pray Fajr, eat breakfast, go pray, hug Eid Mubarak, come home, maybe go out, maybe have people over, eat, eat, eat, get gifts or Eid money, eat and sleep.
This year, why not make Eid the special holiday that it is? Here are some ideas of things you can do with the family to get out of the usual routine.
1. Plan in advance
Call a family meeting a week before and plan what you want to do on Eid day. Invite others over in the afternoon, and have dinner at a restaurant in the evening? 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.
And make sure EVERYONE has a day off from work, school or any other commitments.
2. Clean and decorate the home
Get everyone in on this. Make the house as sparkling clean as you can. If there is enough time and the weather is warm, consider white washing the house and putting mattresses and bedding outside to air out.
Then, once the house is virtually spotless, decorate it with balloons, lights, banners, streamers,etc. Get the younger kids involved in this process. Have them make decorative signs saying "Eid Mubarak" and post these around the house.
Put an Islamic song on the CD on 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. Make special food
Make something special which the family does not normally eat, it can be sweet, sour or in-between. The point is that Eid is special, and the food we eat on this day should be better and different from our usual meals.
4. 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.
5. Have the kids make gifts for each other
If you're not into the gift exchange idea and want everyone to get a present try this. Arts and crafts are the best tool for making these gifts. They are personal and cheap and save useless trips to the shopping center.
You can have the kids collect all of the odds and ends they find during the Eid house clean up in a box. Then they can use these things to make strange but meaningful Eid gifts.
6. Buy new clothes
Kids will not feel Eid is special if they are sporting the same Shalwar Kameez, suit or Thobe they've worn on Eid for the last two years. Invest in Eid and get them something new. Or at least get everyone to prepare nice clothes for Eid by washing or getting them dry cleaned.
7. Do this as you plan for new clothes
Have everyone go through their clothes and toys (for kids) to find items they have outgrown. Then arrange to have them sold through a garage sale and give the money to a local Masjid or community fundraising event. I can also be sent abroad to those in need.
8. Wash the car
Who wants to go to Eid prayers in a dirt stained car filled with gum wrappers and cookie crumbs? And think about what will happen to everyone's nice Eid clothes sitting in a vehicle like that! Get the car clean and ready. Everyone should help with this. One person vacuums, another cleans the windows, a third person washes the exterior, etc.
If possible get the car checked and fill up the gas tank so you don't end up with any Eid day surprises.
9. 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 here. Do hug 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.
10. Go to a Muslim restaurant to eat as a family
Not only will you have a family outing on Eid day this way, but you'll be supporting a Muslim business. If the food and service are good,put in a good word for the restaurant to your friends.
11. Record Eid day events
From the time everyone wakes up in the morning till everyone conks out happily at the end of the day, record this Eid on video or audio to make it memorable. It will probably make a hilarious piece of family history as well. Give the responsibility for recording to one of the responsible, technologically adept members of the family.
12. Head For the open road!
Drive the family out into the countryside and try to get lost on some unfamiliar roads, challenging the kids to help remember the way home. (Always keep change for the pay-phone, a map andsome food for everyone just in case it takes longer to get back).
13. Visit a homeless shelter or food bank and donate your extra Eid food
Also do some Dawa by telling workers at the shelter what Eid, charity in Islam and Ramadan are about. Bring pamphlets and other written material. The visit can help remind everyone what it was like when they were hungry while fasting during the month of Ramadan.
14. Share Eid with your neighbors
Make dessert (something simple that almost everyone likes, like chocolate cake) and write up a short definition about Eid on a decorative card or small posterboard. Share this with your neighbors.
15. Visit relatives and friends
Visit those far away especially. There is almost no better time than Eid.It's also a great way to acquaint the kids with their relatives near and far.
16. Make Eid evening family entertainment night
If 16-year-old Jameel knows how to play the Duff, while his sister Amira, 14, can write and sing well, let them prepare a few songs for Eid night family entertainment. Also, have 12-year-old Ridwan recite some of his best poetry. Make one of the teens in charge of this event. Help them establish a criteria of Halal entertainment.