6 Ways NJ Communities are Spreading Joy During COVID-19


The weight of our current reality can feel crippling—the COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Right now, we’re all craving some light and happiness that will lift our spirits during these long days. Fortunately, families around New Jersey are coming through to spread joy right from their own homes in truly beautiful ways. Where we live, we’ve seen everything from sidewalk chalk masterpieces to social distancing scavenger hunts to drive-by birthday parades, all to make our friends and neighbors smile. In such a dark time, feeling these moments of love, support and connection will help us get through this together.


Balloon Displays

When I heard about the #LiftYourSpiritsWestfield balloon project, I knew I wanted to support it and get a display put up in our yard. The campaign organized by Mix + Mingle Events is helping Kenilworth party biz Dream Factory Balloons stay afloat, while also supporting other local businesses and families through the Westfield United Fund. As soon as it went up, we had neighbors telling us (from a distance) how it brought them a much-needed smile while driving by or out for a walk. It was also a great teaching moment for our kiddos about doing something to bring other people some happiness during hard times. Other party planning and event businesses are running similar cheerful contactless offers, like Creative Twist Event’s ‘Pimp Your Porch’ special.


Chalk Art

Search #chalkyourwalk on Insta and you’re bound to be instantly smiling. We love seeing littles express themselves with some sweet sidewalk chalk artwork, spreading messages of inspiration. The options are endless. The final picture is an encouraging boost for neighbors and friends walking by, and it’s also a great family outdoor activity that’s completely socially distancing friendly.


Front Porch Photo Sessions

Photographers are another profession in the long list of those struggling right now– with weddings, parties, first birthday pictures and other traditional family photo sessions on hold. So we were so excited when we heard one of our favorite local photographers, Lauren Anzevino, was offering “Front Porch Photo Sessions.”  The idea is that photographers come to your front yard and do a quick family photo session from a safe social distance away, to both support their business and give something back in the process. Lauren is donating a portion of every session to Rahway Food for Friends NJ, a nonprofit that serves families in need of food. We’ve seen several other NJ photographers are doing these types of sessions (Lullabies For Josephine, Renee Ash, Sandra Lauren and Semi Sweet Studios to name a few). If you search #frontporchproject and #frontstepsproject, you’ll find hundreds of others around the country doing the same. It’s a great excuse to dress up, enjoy being outside with the kiddos, document this time, and support others in the process.


Window Decorating

Rainbows have been popping up in windows all around the world, as a message that this scary time will pass and that there is light ahead. Our neighbors have a big sign in their front window that says, “We will get through this together,” and how right they are. You’ve been tagging #NJMOM with all kinds of adorable window decorations crafted by your little artists. These little signs are an instant boost and an easy way to share in spreading some hope with your kids.

The sign says it all via @GrazingAffair

Teddy Bear Scavenger Hunts

This sweet idea supposedly started in Italy and has now made its way around the globe during the pandemic. The thought is that if people put a teddy bear in one of their front windows, children will have a fun little scavenger hunt as they walk around their neighborhood, checking to see how many bears they can find along the way. Some neighborhoods have even gotten creative enough to put maps online of which homes are participating so that parents know which direction to head in as they’re out for a walk.

Birthday Parades

We mamas know our kiddos wait all year for their birthdays, so for those who are finding themselves celebrating at home this year, family and friends are organizing a way to still make the day special. Just the other day, we heard honking and cheering and went out on our front porch just in time to see our neighbors getting a surprise drive-by birthday parade. Friends had signs and balloons, driving slowly by the house with music blaring and cowbells ringing, shouting out birthday wishes to brighten the birthday boy’s day. It brought me to tears, and if you’ve seen one yourself, you know what I mean.

Is your community doing something special to lift spirits during the COVID-19 crisis? Let us know about it using #NJMOM.


About Author

Marisa is a mom to two sweet boys and a little lady (all under 4!) as well as one precious girl in heaven and her heart. A true Jersey girl, Marisa loves raising her family here and embracing all that being a #NJMOM has to offer. Whether it's summer days on Spring Lake beach or down on LBI, or heading out to sample some of the state's best eats (Montclair and Jersey City are favs), family days out and about together are her favorite way to spend a weekend. A former news anchor turned on-air lifestyle host and expert, you might also catch her on TV or in the kitchen cooking up something delish for the littles.