7 Ways to Safely Celebrate International Day of Friendship

friends in masks social distancing

International Day of Friendship, July 30, is all about forging friendships, bonds and lasting connections with people from all walks of life because having a diverse group of people in your life ultimately makes you a better, more well-rounded person! The United Nations General Assembly declared this day in 2011 as a way to involve “young people, as future leaders, in community activities that include different cultures and promote international understanding and respect for diversity.” 

These days, it’s more important than ever to establish bonds and start up real conversations with people who don’t look like you or your community, who may practice a different religion than you or grew up in a different neighborhood or speaks a different language. Even in a pandemic with social distancing orders in place, we can still take the time to celebrate the importance of this day.

1. Friend a stranger from beyond your borders

letters pen pal

Remember pen pals? Did you ever have one as a kid? It’s a fun, often, school-sponsored program that allows schoolkids from all over the world to connect with one another. This used to happen with HANDWRITTEN LETTERS! 

The concept of kids sitting down and writing anything for longer than a test essay seems almost impossible these days but FaceTime, Zoom, email and various messaging apps are fun upgrades on an old concept.

Challenge yourself to connect with someone, whether it’s via a social media network or through a friend or family member, based on one unique or rare thing you two have in common. See if/how a friendship blossoms from that! Bonus points if you write at least one physical letter.

2. Get involved (safely) with your city/community

community charity volunteer work

The best way to meet awesome, new people is to get out there, with a mask on and get involved! During these critical times, it is more important than ever to figure out ways to help your community, whether it’s donating time and money, volunteering at care facilities or other programs that need hands on deck or even buying and tipping extra at local businesses struggling to stay afloat. 

While you’re out there helping, you’ll not only feel empowered and truly making a difference, you’ll be surrounded by others who care just like you. Strike up conversations and bond with those that share the same values as you.

3. Make friendship jewelry and share

jewelry bracelets beaded

It may sound a little silly but remember the sheer joy of getting a friendship bracelet or necklace or ring when you were a kid? Or feeling a bit sad if you never got one even though you saw other classmates get them? Now you can make sure all your close friends (and new ones) get a little symbol of your affection for them! 

First, pick the item you think your friends will most likely wear and then pick the theme you’d like to go with, something that is important to you guys. Next, decide the style, whether it’s the cute breakaways that say “Best” on one half and “Friend” on the other or a simple beaded collection of bracelets with a similar color theme. Give them out to your group of friends in a safe way or mail them as a surprise gift with a sweet note telling them why their friendship means so much to you!

4. Help mend a forgotten or broken friendship

friendships outside

This can be a tricky one, but navigable and achievable when handled in a caring manner. Sometimes life happens and friendships either drift apart or something happens to cause a rift. Oftentimes this happens between friends who also share mutual friends, so one disbanded friendship can send waves throughout the entire group. 

What can you do to help? Communication is key here. The most important thing is that both parties are open and willing to have you there to help facilitate a resolution. Don’t get involved if one or both people don’t want you there! If things don’t come to a happy ending, that’s okay, you did what you could do. Healing is very powerful.

5. “Adopt” a senior citizen

senior citizens elderly

People living in long-term care facilities or nursing homes are often isolated from their families and lonely. There are some programs out there that help form a connection between you and one of these fascinating people!

People are more alone and isolated than ever before, so donating gifts and personal time to help someone feel connected to the outside world will do wonders for their mental health. Who knows? You may end up with a really close friend along the way.

6. Give them the gift of warmth

heated vest travel

Coming from us, this answer is obvious. Presents always make a buddy smile! As we head quickly into fall season and falling temperatures, you know which of your friends will be complaining the loudest about being cold. We have Heated Socks for the friend with the perpetually-freezing feet, we’ve got Heated Hoodies for the BFF who likes being comfy no matter what, we’ve got Heated Mittens for the outdoorsy friend, Heated Parka for the fashionable friend and so much more.

Yes, we encourage you to splurge on your friends because they deserve it. Spreading positivity and joy by way of gifts may feel a bit materialistic but people like to have physical symbols of affection. Why not make it a heated, cozy one?

7. Sports + social distancing = safe, outdoor fun

disc golf course

Do you know how many outdoor activities you can do with a couple close friends that encourage social distancing while also getting those sweet, sweet endorphins? A lot! Here are some of our favorite (and oddest) activities:

  • Frisbee (disc) golf: a flying disc sport where players throw the object in 9-18 “holes” that look like cages; hit these targets for points, similar to regular golf!
  • Pickleball: a paddle ball sport that confusingly, in a fun way,  combines a number of other sports like badminton and tennis that you can play with up to 4 players at once.
  • Cornhole: a more traditionally Midwestern game that has grown super fast in popularity, with teams of 2, a pair of wooden boards and a bunch of bean bags being tossed around.
  • Laser tag: a shooting game with handheld laser “blasters” that opposing teams can tag each other with for points, whoever has the most hits wins!
  • Kickball: this is basically baseball/softball with a giant rubber ball you kick instead of with a ball and bat, with an easy social distancing tweak to tag with the ball (more distance between you and the other person than with a smaller ball) rather than with your hands!

Even though you may not be able to do everything you could do a year ago, there’s still plenty of ways to celebrate International Day of Friendship while keeping yourself and the people you love safe and giving you plenty of opportunities to meet new people.

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