How to keep the joy lights on during lockdown

So shoe! … it’s a pretty rough time to own a party light and sound hiring business right now, and my GP husband is at home in quarantine after his first coronavirus exposure. And yet, while group parties are illegal, wedding bookings have been cancelled, and disco lights are not classified as an essential service (shocking!), we still like to keep the home fires burning, or at least the fairy lights sparkling. Here are some ways we are enjoying ourselves as a family at home.

Celebrating has not been banned

We’re fans of celebrating anything and everything. Sometimes that just means getting out the pretty table cloths and draping fairy lights across the table, and giving everyone something sparkly to drink. With an umbrella in it, if you have those in the cupboard.

We need variety in our daily lives and routines and celebratory mealtimes can be a great time to change things up and prevent time from becoming a drab blur. If you don’t have any birthdays or other celebrations at this time, you can always celebrate every Thursday midnight week-o-versary of the coronoavirus lockdown (in South Africa)…

If you can’t be with your loved ones, make a date for a celebratory dinner video call. Set a pretty table, light some candles, pour your self a glass of wine, and video call! You can toast each other and all.

Love in a time of coronavirus

Our 17th wedding anniversary is coming up this week, so we will light our wedding altar candles and sacrifice some of our not-so-panic-bought egg stockpile and some frozen berries to make a fabulous pavlova, as we do every year in honour of the two-tier berry pavlova that was our wedding cake (made by my late mother-in-law). We will get out loads of the stockpile of fairy lights and pump up the music and make a dance floor out in the garden (or shove the furniture out of the living room if it rains).

We can’t even go to the shops for two weeks, but we will pick whatever greenery and flowers are in the garden, and make pretty flower arrangements. I grow a pyracanthas berry bush in the garden for the red berries it produces in autumn, just because they were in my wedding flower arrangements. OK and because the chickens think they are yummy, but that doesn’t sound as romantic.

If you go into quarantine closer to the end of the 21 day lockdown and find yourself with only two minute noodles and dried peas left in the cupboard, well, that’s a bit tougher, but as one cookbook recommended, you can always add curry, give it a French name and serve it by candlelight…

As a friend who, along with her husband, was one of the first to contract coronavirus and got pretty sick around their wedding anniversary said, if nothing else, you will be reminded of your ‘in sickness and in health’ vows like never before!

Dance like nobody’s watching (except your weird neighbour)

If you’re starting to go a little nuts trying to work from home with your young kids and your sick spouse, or just your needy cats, it is a good idea to shake off some of that stale energy and release some happy hormones (endorphins).

Crank up the volume on some great dance hits (through-the-ages if you have children) and even if you have to use a disco light app on your phone, or a music video, get yourselves dancing.

Try learning crazy new dance moves with a youtube tutorial for extra giggles. It’s rare you get to dance with so little social inhibition, so go wild!

Social distancing silent disco

I have a friend who is keeping herself happy by having the occasional silent disco, which is awesome, especially if other people in the house have out-of-sync moods or music tastes right now. All you need is some space, a playlist, a phone with headphones and you are all set. Fill your head with your tunes and dance like crazy. You can dodge the judgemental teenager’s looks by simply closing your eyes.

I am going to apply this to my blogging work too. As I type right now, I have gone into silent disco mode to mentally escape the dining room ‘home office’. My daughter is in the living room listening to Trevor Noah on full blast so she can hear him over her dad grinding barley in the kitchen because he is making his own beer out of desperation at this point. We’re only on day 5 of lockdown , so thank all that is holy for headphones!

Glow in the dark Easter egg/scavenger hunt

Easter falls smack-bang in the middle of our coronavirus lockdown, so we want to keep it special for the kids. This one requires a little equipment, but I’m always surprised by how many people have at least one UV torch… We happen to have saved those glow in the dark Easter eggs that Woolworths sold years ago (perhaps they still have them and they are even still for sale??) and we use them every year when we usually go camping around this time. Well THIS year, we’ll be doing that in the garden at home, of course.

If you don’t have the glow in the dark eggs, you can cut up neon paper into Easter egg shapes (your supermarket might still have some in the stationary aisle, if not taped off and guarded by a burly policeman).

For little kids, it’s enough to put a treat or a silly activity inside the eggs, scatter them about, give them your UV torch and let them have fun. For older kids, you can do something more challenging, like putting a clue inside each egg giving the clue for finding the next one, with a reward only at the end. At this stage, even the 13 year old will be grateful for silly activities too, like having to do a moonwalk accross the lawn, or piggy backing a younger sibling to find a clue hidden higher up. Basically, make it last… we’ve all got the time!

Break the monotony of mealtimes

We always love to eat together as a family every day, and the internet is abuzz with advice on maintaining your routines during the lockdown. I understand the drive to avoid everyone turning into zombie-apocalyptic types who drift aimlessly around the living room in increasingly unhygienic pyjamas while eating raw cookie dough. BUT, I think we also crave some novelty and a break in the routine when all we see for weeks is our homes and the same (oh how lovely, but still the same) people.

What we like to do is use mealtimes as especially good times to add some variety. Check out your options. We have cosy movie night dinners with mattresses on the lounge floor as if it’s a sleepover . We’ve done eating and singing around the fire pit, eating on the veranda by candle and fairy-light, and eating in the dining room instead of the kitchen. I’m planning a picnic on the lawn for our next lunch.

We are super fortunate to have a garden, but even in an apartment, you can do things a little differently. Try out an interesting recipe, use the good table linen, learn to fold paper napkins and try learning toasts in other languages. Mix up a fancy cocktail with twirls of orange peel on the glass rim. Whatever. It will cheer you up and remind you of what is important in the world.

Parents, make a picnic on the floor, make the kids a camp out by putting your tent up in the garden, or if you don’t have a garden, make a camping spot by putting blankets over a table and giving them their dinner there around a nice lantern as a pretend fire. Let their imaginations do the rest, while you and your partner have a nice candlelit dinner for two in another room for a change.

Keep the joy lights on

No one needs reminding that these are hard times. Much harder for some than others. As a family with a doctor in it, we are particularly aware of this right now. We all need to do what we can to help, firstly by staying home at this time if we are not essential workers, and then by reaching out to help the community in any safe way we can. In the meantime, it’s not just frivolous to keep yourself and your loved ones cheerful and having fun. It’s essential at a time when otherwise fear and anxiety can lower your immune response, and make you less likely to be able to come up with creative ways to help where and when help is needed. Stay healthy and stay safe, and try to keep the joy lights on.


4 thoughts on “How to keep the joy lights on during lockdown

  1. Oh Marguerite….how I laughed!! You are amazing and I love love love this post. Good luck to Haig, I hope he is clear, and thanks for making me smile AND the unique and wonderful perspective and joy you bring to those whose lives you touch.
    Okay where are my headphones…my family are not that partial to the Gibb brothers….


    1. Thank you Marcelle! I hop you enjoyed your silent disco! We are all well, with only mild symptoms so far, and enjoyig each other’s company as if we are on holiday (a cruise on de Nile, which ain’t just a river in Egypt 😉
      Thanks for adding your special sparkle to our lives as well. Wishing you joy and sending hugs for this turbulent time, which has its own humble blessings.


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