It’s been a bad year to get together with family and friends.

The coronavirus pandemic has made the normal summer barbecues and family Thanksgiving dinners — and any other celebration — pretty much impossible, so people have been left to turn to alternative ways to connect with friends and loved ones, and a lot of people have been doing that with flowers.

Rosa Guerrero, who works at Florist in the Garden in Moses Lake, said people have been buying flowers just as a way to encourage friends and family. “They want to brighten up somebody’s day,” she said. “Flowers are a good way to tell people, ‘I’m thinking of you.,’”

Desert Rose Designs in Othello has started a program they’re calling “Spread Kindness.” People can order flowers to be sent to residents of Othello-area extended care facilities.

“Just to brighten their day and lift their spirits,” said Desert Rose employee Sarah Schuh. “People in Othello have really embraced it,” Schuh said.

The shop has sometimes received phone calls from care facility residents, expressing thanks for the gift.

“It’s been really special,” Schuh said.

Carol Seal, the co-owner of Floral Occasions in Moses Lake, said she’s seeing a lot more “thinking of you” flowers being sent, “especially at the holidays.”

Christmas isn’t as big as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day when it comes to flower sales, Guerrero said. But people are buying Christmas flowers all month, Seal said.

“We’ve got some Christmas (arrangements) going out today,” she said Monday.

There is one flower that’s indelibly associated with Christmas. “We sell a lot of poinsettias,” Seal said. But while poinsettias are a common choice, they’re not the only choice. “We sell a lot of red and white (arrangements) of different flowers,” Seal said. Many Christmas season arrangement feature carnations and chrysanthemums, she said “All-white is something that’s really popular as well,” Schuh said.  Desert Rose sells a lot of bouquets with mixed flowers, and a little winter greenery mixed in — cedar, pine branches and pine cones, elements that they don’t use other times of year, she said.  Live wreaths are a popular choice at Floral Occasions. Seal said she attaches Christmas ornaments and other decorations to Christmas arrangements, something people can keep when the flowers are discarded. People also buy keepsake vases that can be used year after year.  Popular choices at Florist in the Garden are floral arrangements meant to be eye-catching. “Centerpieces,” Guerrero said.  Christmas, even in a pandemic, is a busy time of year, and people are encouraged to order flowers like they order other gifts — early. “It helps us. A lot,” Schuh said. Guerrero said people should order early in the morning for delivery, or even a day ahead, if they can.