By Nancy Ho Foster
ALEXANDRIA, VA – Over 30 families found a way to engage the community and be entertained while staying safe and maintaining social distance during the COVID crisis when they joined in the fun of a recent door decorating contest in Alexandria’s Rosemont neighborhood.
Somer Jefferiss organized the contest explaining, “A friend moved to Boston and they’ve been having events in her new neighborhood. They did a teddy bear hunt and door decorating contest. So I just sent around an email to a big group saying… let’s door decorate next Friday. I thought about asking people first, but easier to just write up the idea and rules and go with it. It sure did spread!”
Her initial email gave some loose guidelines to decorate the front doors, stairs, porches, lawns, or walkways, and she set the date for the next Friday. She also asked that families add their name, address, and email to a Google Sheet. Before long, the word spread and over 30 families signed up to participate.
Minutes before the competition started, Somer sent an email to the participating families with the final list of addresses and an online survey to vote for “Most Creative” and “Best Overall Décor”.
She said that her friend in Boston collected money for prizes, but Somer was happy to buy $50 gift cards to support local restaurants.
Somer also reminded people to be mindful of social distancing rules and be respectful of everyone as they wandered around the neighborhood to see all the decorated doors.
“Most Creative” Category
The Hooff family came in First Place in the “Most Creative” category for their stained glass chalk artwork on their door, windows, and front walk, inspired by artwork they had seen on Facebook.
Jennifer Hooff said, “It took the girls several afternoons to complete everything. It was a great incentive to get their schoolwork done each day and then I allowed them to work on it in the afternoons. We referred to it as Art Class at Corona Academy! We used painters tape, window markers, and chalk for the project. All 4 of my girls participated. It was heartwarming to see them all working together and reminded me of the countless afternoons I spent outside with them as toddlers playing with chalk.
She added, “We spent more than two hours Friday afternoon walking to all 30+ houses that participated. It was wonderful to see how many people joined the fun and a bonus to see a few faces (from afar) that we have not seen in weeks. We are grateful to Somer for the fun idea and thankful to live in an enthusiastic and supportive neighborhood.”
Two doors tied for Second Place in the “Most Creative” category. The Bennett family cleverly designed a “Rolling With It” themed door with colorful bunnies, mice, bees, ladybugs, butterflies, flowers, and more, all made with upcycled toiled paper rolls.
The Jones family were inspired by the season, designing a “Cherry Blossom” themed door in the lively door decorating contest. Emily Schell Jones posted a closeup of her beautiful blossoming door on Facebook, saying that her two kids did all the artwork themselves and thanked neighbors who supplied the tissue paper.
“Overall Best Décor” Category
For the “Overall Best Décor” category, the Turnbull family came in First Place with their “Entering Covid Beach” themed décor. They placed beach supplies out on their lawn as well as a sign with Covid rules of “No Swimming, No Surfing, No Sunbathing, No Boogieboards, No Sand Castles”. In addition, bloody sharks teeth surrounded their doorway for added danger.
Elizabeth Turnbull explained, “We went through a lot of ideas, but ultimately landed on a beach theme considering we had all of the supplies. The whole family participated in the process, from the kids creating the sand (yellow sidewalk chalk) and cutting out the sharks teeth from paper. We were thankful to be included in such a fun contest and it was a great way to focus our energy and keep us busy.“
Coming in Second Place for “Overall Best Décor” was the Foster family with another beach theme. But in contrast to the Turnbull’s dangerous beach, the Fosters went with a more friendly “Spring Break on Rosemont Island”, with lots of cute and friendly sea creatures decorating the front door.
Nancy Ho Foster said, “We were sad that we had to cancel our Spring Break beach plans, so we thought that we might as well pretend to be on the beach at home. My two kids and I had a blast making an ocean scene with sea creatures using construction paper, paper plates, tissue paper, and paint. We realized how much we missed art class in school and are now inspired to do art more often at home.”
She added, “Walking around the neighborhood to see all the doors was just as fun as decorating the door and porch. We tried to be efficient and marked all the houses on a printed Google Map that we carried around on a clipboard. According to our FitBits, we walked over 3.5miles just going up and down the neighborhood blocks! We made art AND got some exercise AND got to wave at friends from a safe social distance! So thankful to Somer and our neighborhood for this opportunity.”
Reflecting on the door decorating contest, Somer Jefferiss said, “We got lucky with a gorgeous day and I loved how everyone had their own spin/ideas,” from Easter & religious themed, to beach decor, to artistic and beautiful designs.
She received a lot of positive feedback and people have been sending her great ideas for the next event. She’s hoping to get more friends and neighbors involved next time around and that others will take the reins and lead the next event.
Until then, all of the neighbors can enjoy the door decorations as they take safe walks around the neighborhood!
COMING UP: Virtual Egg Hunt at Lee-Fendall House