Pandemic-Proof Your Puerto Rican Holiday Traditions

Homemade coquito for Navidad.

By Jessica Torres

December 22, 2020

From hosting a virtual coquito happy hour to delivering pasteles to your neighbors, here are some ideas to safely celebrate your favorite traditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

For years, Laura Romero has hosted a coquito happy hour with her comadre, sister, and chicas in her one-bedroom walk-up apartment in Queens, New York. The idea of missing out on one of her cherished Puerto Rican traditions was getting her down, so she decided not to let it be another canceled event due to the pandemic. “We always do this the first Friday of December, and this year would be no different!” she said.

As we long for our routines and holiday rituals, we know this year will be different. Let’s make some new traditions that are pandemic-proof. You may even keep them for years to come!

Virtual Coquito Happy Hour

Even if you can’t be together, you can spread joy and share a cup of coquito or two. “The key to feeling like we are all together is to have as much be the same as possible. Drink the same drink, same dress code, etc.” 

But first, you need the coquito! There are two options for this. You can all order coquito from the same place and leave them at everyone’s doorsteps or have them delivered. In Queens, you can find bottles made by locals for $30. (Your bodega can usually point you in the right direction.) In Puerto Rico, a bottle can cost anywhere from $15-$20.

RELATED: ¿Con bajón de pasteles y coquito? Aquí te decimos donde conseguirlos en Florida.

The Romeros opted to send out a pre-party email with a shopping list and the family coquito recipe. Once logged on, they all whipped out their blenders and their aunt Neida walked them through the recipe. What followed was a fun evening of sharing memories and virtual tours of their decorated homes. “It was actually really nice. We were able to include friends and family who would normally be too far to join us. We got to see family from Florida and friends from Atlanta,” she said. 

If you don’t have a family coquito recipe, here is theirs:


Six servings

  • 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (15 oz) can cream of coconut (Coco López brand is preferred)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup white Bacardi rum (or more to taste)
  • cinnamon sticks for garnish

Mix all ingredients except garnish in a blender at high speed. 

If you are going to drink the coquito right away, make sure all your ingredients are cold. 

Secret Santa Organized Online

Does Christmas remind you of the family gathered and opening gifts on Noche Buena? This year spread a little love and joy with a family Secret Santa. Using the gift exchange platform, you can arrange a gift exchange with your family. Elfster makes it easy to assign gifts to recipients and allows the organizer to participate without revealing any names. Have the participants send each other gifts anonymously, and on Noche Buena, plan a zoom to open presents and reveal the Santas. 

A Mini Parranda 

Some can’t imagine Christmas without a parranda. While many traditions are out of the question, this one outdoor ritual doesn’t have to be. 

Donning masks and their warmest winter gear, the Ortiz family will be serenading their neighbors in Copiague, New York, and dropping off pasteles. Caterer Stefanie Ortiz has prepared dozens of pasteles to deliver to her neighbors in their Honda Civic decked-out for the holidays, complete with lights and reindeer antlers. “Everyone looks forward to my pasteles every year,” Ortiz said. “I start getting requests by Halloween. This year the plan is to drive up blasting salsa and delivering them door to door. I think they will all get a kick out of it.”

RELATED: Alone for the Holidays? Here Are Some Tips For Going Solo This Season.

While we can’t control what happens from one day to the next, keeping traditions alive gives us security and closeness. This year it will look different, but the festivities can still go on.



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