It’s official–having Ramadan decorations up in your home, and giving out Ramadan gifts to friends, coworkers, classmates, and neighbors is now a part of American Muslim culture. I’m glad that it’s becoming very normalized, although I have a handful of reservations about the pressure and expectations of decorating the home becoming burdensome or even potentially damaging. If you’ve procrastinated and are in a last minute panic trying to figure out what to do for Ramadan this year, this article will provide you with some simple, meaningful ideas to bring some festive Ramadan decor into your space, and to share Ramadan gifts with friends.
If you’re in a hurry and want to get to a list of decorating or gift options, read the next section, check out the strategy graphic, and then skip down to the list of ideas.
Bringing the Focus Back to the Core of Ramadan
Remember, decorating the home and giving out gifts are just one aspect of your Ramadan preparation, and a beautiful home or immaculate gifts will only get you so far in actually accomplishing any spiritual, emotional, mental, relationship, and/or physical Ramadan goals you’ve set for yourself. A small effort is really all you need to check the boxes “decorated” and “sent gifts” off of your Ramadan preparation to-do list.
In the meantime, please ignore the social media barrage of pictures and videos of crazy awesome decor and gift baskets that makes you feel less than, incapable, or like you dropped the ball on Ramadan preparations this year. Take extra care to block out the social media influencers you may follow–they are literally making money off of their content and it is part of their job to put together elaborate Ramadan tablescapes/etc. Just focus on yourself and what you can do to an extent that does not compromise the other Ramadan preparations going on (planning for meals, cleaning the home, fasting before Ramadan or finishing make-up fasts, and any other practical or spiritual arrangements.) Don’t strain your emotional well-being or positive mindset when it comes to being optimistic about this upcoming Ramadan. And most importantly, don’t let these activities become a point of tension within your family–because if you’re like me, when I’m panic-decorating, cleaning, cooking, or any other task, my patience with others dwindles and I can easily lose control of my temper. What’s the point of amazing da’wah boxes to neighbors if you got into a huge fight with your spouse, or the kids are upset, or you’ve angered one of your parents? Never lose focus of what Ramadan is really about–coming closer to God, improving yourself, and connecting through love and mercy with those around you–when adding tertiary tasks onto your plate.
Last Minute Ramadan Decor
Strategy is key, especially during crunch-time. Check out this graphic for a summary of the following section.
Constraints to Consider: Time, Money, Skill, Effort, and Resources
Being realistic and practical when it comes to thinking about your decorating constraints is crucial to not feeling overwhelmed or letting a project morph into a monster.
- Time: how much time do you actually have to decorate your space? Is it a couple hours, a day or two, or a week?
- Money: how much disposable income do you have right now to reasonably spend on your decorating project? Generally speaking, the more money you have to spend, the easier and quicker it will be to decorate your space.
- Skill: how crafty are you, and do you even enjoy arts and crafts projects or decorating? There are plenty of things you can do which require very little skill, but make sure you consider that when you are making your plan.
- Effort: how much effort do you really want to put into this? What kind of tasks are you willing to do and for how long?
- Resources: what do you have on hand that you can use already or borrow from someone? What are you willing to purchase? What are the environmental impacts of the decisions you’re making, based on the materials you’re using, whether the quality of the decor is good enough to be used again?
Come up with some measurable and specific numbers as far as time and money go to keep your project within an appropriate scope–four hours and $60 versus one day and $20 are very different constraints to work within.
Where to Decorate
Imagine a Ramadan Pinterest board in your mind–the three major areas of decoration are the front door, fireplace/mantlepiece, and the dining area where you typically eat your meals. A fourth area you may also see people decorating the prayer space within their homes, which can be nice if done minimally and thoughtfully.
When you’re deciding on where to decorate within your home, think of what would make you the happiest, bring you the most spiritual energy, and be the most practical or functional for your daily life in Ramadan. The more constraints you have (little time, little money, low skill, etc.) to balance, the less you’ll be able to do, and that’s perfectly fine.
- A complicated tablescape probably won’t work well for setting regular meals and cleaning up.
- Decorating your front door might be mostly irrelevant to you if you rarely spend time near it and live in a place where people don’t see your door.
- a minimalist touch of cheer to the dining table with a cute jar for dates which is functional, not too clunky, and encourages your family to follow the Sunnah
- Updating your prayer rug storage solution with a new basket might be a practical move which has long-lasting results.
Choose wisely and strategically what you’re going to focus your limited resources on, even if it’s only one area or a singular addition to each area. Honestly, less is more in many circumstances.
Where To Shop
Where you shop will depend on how much time, money, and skill you have available. For Ramadan-specific decor, major party chains, like Party City, have been carrying Ramadan items for a few years now and don’t forget about your local Muslim grocery stores and other Islamic shops (stock may be low if you’ve waited too long). For generic decorating pieces, you can go to your local Walmart or Target, discount stores like Home Goods, Ross, or T.J. Maxx, or dollar stores like Dollar Tree or Family Dollar. If you go for the obvious choice and visit a major craft store, like JoAnn, Hobby Lobby, or Michaels, make sure you find coupons online before you leave home. I always find it worth a trip to a nearby creative reuse store, but you may or may not have one nearby and the inventory may not be reliable for completing a project in a crunch.
My suggestion? Call ahead to Party City or your Muslim grocery store and ask what they have left in stock for a sure win. You can also go to a cheaper store, like Dollar Tree first, and then another pricier store to fill in the gaps. Also keep your project constraints (time & money) and the specific areas you’re decorating in mind when you go shopping. If you have a list of potential items you’re looking for (like banner, colorful bowl, string lights, wreath) your life will be much easier.
And for the upcoming two Eids and next Ramadan, please get yourself on Etsy and support Muslim crafters well ahead of time–like two months before Ramadan, okay?
Choosing A Theme/Color Story/Mood
The mood of your decorations will influence your color story and theme. What do you want your decorations to look like?
- sophisticated and elegant
- festive children’s party
- royal and glamorous
- overseas celebrations from your motherland
- modern and minimalist
- rustic and neutral
For a color story, choose something that you like and will harmoniously meld with your home’s existing color scheme. You may have to settle for a backup color scheme depending on what you find at the store. Generally, it’s good to keep in mind one or two main colors, an accent color. one metal color (gold, brass, silver, chrome), and one wood color (natural, bleached, espresso).
The theme for your decor should be “Ramadan,” duh! Right? Yes, and no. You could choose a different theme, like the season of the year Ramadan falls in this year (spring for the Northern Hemisphere) or something more specific like sunset, mosaic glass, the night sky, Islam architecture, candy, forest etc.
Ideas: Last Minute Ramadan Decor
- Date bowl, lantern, and fast-breaking dua: A plate with a medium-large sized light-up lantern and a bowl or jar with dates in it (dining area).
- Print out the dua’ for breaking the fast for extra blessings (free printable from In My Studio)
- Free printable lanterns. 3D from Sakina Design, Inc. 2D coloring pages from Belaraby App
- Ramadan banner or sign that you DIY or buy (dining area or anywhere)
- Letter signs spelling “RAMADAN” using wooden or cardboard letters (any craft store, like Hobby Lobby)
- Hanging banners
- A wreath (mini or large) that you like (front door or anywhere)
- String lights (hung or placed anywhere)
- Helium balloons, if you have kids or are a kid-at-heart
Last Minute Ramadan Gifts
Giving Ramadan gifts to your Muslim family/friends as well as neighbors, coworkers, classmates, family, etc. from other faiths is a great opportunity to give sadaqah and da’wah to those close to you. You’ll have to think about your budget and how many people you’d like to give gifts to, then check out the list below for some ideas. Dress up these gifts with a simple gift bow and message and you’re done!
Ideas: Last Minute Gifts
- Box of dates (you can package dates into smaller jars or containers, but it’s less hygienic)
- Box of sweets of any kind
- Healthy alternative: container/box of tea
- Gift cards or e-gift cards (great to send to family or friends who aren’t nearby)
- Messages/gift tags
You Got This!
I hope you’ve found these ideas helpful and that you manage to get something together for this Ramadan. The great thing is that Ramadan is a whole month long, so if you run out of time, it’s okay if you end up running over into Ramadan itself–just make sure you’re using your blessed time wisely!
Source: Muslim Matters