With many churches moving services online and many special events cancelled, we’re all rethinking our usual Easter traditions this year. Here are some creative ideas for making the season meaningful even if we can’t gather together with other believers in person.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is the final Sunday of Lent and the celebration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Crowds celebrated his arrival by placing garments in his path and waving palm branches, while shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

This year Palm Sunday falls on Sunday, April 5th. If your church is streaming Sunday worship service online, be sure to tune in with your family. If not, here are some ways you can celebrate Palm Sunday at home.

  • Read one of the Gospel accounts of Palm Sunday. All four Gospels recount Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. They are found in Matthew 21:1 – 11, Mark 11:1 – 11, Luke 19:28 – 44, and John 12:12 – 19. Choose one to read together as a family.
  • Collect greenery from your own yard or surrounding nature and hold a palm procession throughout your home. If no greenery is available, make your own palm branches out of construction paper.
  • Sing a traditional Palm Sunday song and wave your branches in praise to God. All Glory Laud and Honor is a traditional Palm Sunday hymn. If you prefer a more modern worship song, Hosanna by Hillsong Worship or Only King Forever by Elevation Worship both capture the heart of Palm Sunday.
  • If you have small children, acting out the Palm Sunday story is a fun way to make the Scripture memorable and meaningful to them. Take turns in the different roles of Jesus, the disciples, the crowd, and maybe even the donkey if you have a willing participant!

Holy Week

The time between Palm Sunday and Easter is often referred to as Holy Week. Now is a great time to remember the final events of Jesus’ life with your kids including the Last Supper, Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, his trial and crucifixion. Here are a few ideas for commemorating this special week.

  • Hold a family foot washing. One of Jesus’ last acts before his death was to wash his disciples’ feet. Reaffirm your commitment to love and serve one another by taking turns washing each other’s feet as Jesus did.
  • Remember Judas’ betrayal of Jesus by hiding 30 coins around your house for the kids to find. Then read and discuss the story in Luke 22:47 – 53.
  • Make hot cross buns. The tradition of making sweet rolls and marking them with a cross to remember Jesus’ crucifixion may date as far back as the 12th century. Here’s a simple recipe if you’d like to give it a try.
  • Read Psalm 22 to connect with Jesus’ experience on the cross.
  • Consider taking a brief break from technology as a family. Many Good Friday services end in total darkness with all lights and candles extinguished. Create your own version of this experience by “going dark” as a family from noon on Good Friday until Easter morning (or some other agreed upon time frame). Turn off cell phones, game consoles, tablets and computers for a fixed amount of time. Do you feel sad, anxious or helpless without your devices? Reflect as a family on how Jesus’ followers must have felt when he was taken from them.
  • Make an Easter craft such as this cross made out of sticks found in nature and craft paint.
  • Share an Easter story together. Here are some great Easter books to read aloud as a family.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday is considered the most important day of the church calendar and the basis of our hope for eternal life. While it’s really disappointing not to be able to gather together with our local church body on such a special day, there are many excellent live streaming services available. If your church is not hosting one, consider this your chance to virtually visit another congregation. Regardless of how you worship on Easter Sunday, here are some fun ideas you can use to experience the joy of the resurrection this year.

  • Exchange the traditional Easter greeting where one person says, “He is risen!” and the other person responds, “He is risen indeed!” If you have little children, they will probably enjoy saying this over and over throughout the day. It’s a wonderful way to keep your heart focused on the true meaning of the day.
  • Listen to some special Easter music to get your heart in the right place. Even if you’re not gathering in your physical church building, you can worship God wherever you are. If your family is not musically inclined or you’re not sure where to start, check out this Easter playlist. For something more traditional, play the Hallelujah Chorus to start your day in a rousing fashion.
  • If you’ve been stuck at home for weeks with no reason to dress up, putting on your Easter dresses or your Sunday best might be a refreshing change of pace. Traditionally new believers were baptized on Easter Sunday and received new clothes to represent their new life in Christ. Even if you don’t have new outfits this year, you can still get dressed up or take a family photo.
  • Read the Biblical account of Jesus’ resurrection from Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, or John 20. If your children are younger, you might prefer to read from a children’s Bible like the Jesus Storybook Bible or The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible.
  • Plan a virtual get-together with family and friends. Modern technology has made it easier than ever before to connect a large group from many different locations for a family prayer time, a casual chat, a meal or even a game. This article has some excellent ideas for creative ways to stay connected during social distancing.
  • Hold an egg hunt. Most church and community Easter egg hunts are cancelled this year, but you can hold your own egg hunt as a family. If you have some plastic eggs, fill them with candy, coins, or even paper coupons good for extra screen time or a special treat. Hide them in the yard, or inside the house if the weather is poor. Do you have a wide range of ages in your family? Consider designating a different color of egg for each child to find so everyone ends up with the same amount. You can easily make the younger children’s eggs easier to find and the older children’s more challenging.
  • Decorate your home with fresh flowers or get some seeds to sprout as Easter approaches. You could also take a walk outside and look for items that represent new life. A small flower or budding branch might represent new life. A small rock might represent the stone that was rolled away at Jesus’ tomb.

However you spend this Easter season, we pray you find meaningful ways to connect with the hope of the resurrection and to stay in touch with your friends and family.

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Aimee

Aimee grew up among the cornfields of rural Michigan, where she was captivated by Jesus as a teenager and married her high school sweetheart. Together they moved to New England where they homeschool their two children together. Aimee has a Master's degree in Biblical Languages from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She enjoys exploring new places, reading great stories, and enjoying the outdoors with her family.