Now that November is officially here, the holidays are right around the corner. As Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah draw closer, it’s time to start thinking of creative ways to celebrate.
For many, the COVID-19 pandemic has ruled out in-person get-togethers. Several factors during this time of year, including cooler temperatures, close quarters, and flu season increase the risk of spread.
Fortunately, there are still plenty of ways to spend time with your friends and family. Here are seven simple tips for having a festive, yet socially distanced holiday season.
1. Have a virtual dinner. You probably use video conferencing software like Zoom or MS Teams on a regular basis. These tools aren’t just for work, though. Consider meeting up with family and friends for a virtual holiday dinner. You might not be able to eat together in person, but a virtual meal is the next best thing.
To make the celebration even more enjoyable, consider exchanging recipes or hosting a contest. You can even create a virtual poll and have family members vote for their favorite dessert or holiday centerpiece.
2. Organize a scavenger hunt. Celebrating the holidays virtually requires a good attitude and a little bit of creativity. This is especially true if you have children who get bored easily. To ensure everyone has a good time, incorporate kid-friendly activities such as a scavenger hunt.
Set aside 10-15 minutes and supply everyone with a list. Then, see which family (or group of friends) can find all of the items within the allotted amount of time.
Unsure what to include in your scavenger hunt? Think seasonally. A few ideas to get your creative juices flowing include: Find something that’s orange in color or find something outside that signifies fall. There’s no right or wrong, just have fun.
3. Put on a holiday photoshoot. Holiday celebrations often involve photo shoots. You might not be able to crowd everyone together on the living room sofa this year, but you can still take pictures to memorialize the event. Both Zoom and Microsoft Teams make it easy to take and save screenshots.
If you don’t want to be tied to your computer, take photos around the house using your smartphone or camera. Once you’re finished, upload them and share. You can do this via social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram or you can share your pictures via email or messenger. You might even want to print copies and send a seasonal greeting to your loved ones via snail mail.
4. Host a virtual cocktail party. A virtual cocktail party is very similar to a virtual dinner. The only real difference is you don’t have to do any cooking.
Before hosting, find a cocktail recipe that appeals to a wide audience. This list from Delish is a great place to start. Once you select a recipe, copy and paste it into an email or blank text message. Send the recipe to your friends and family, including a date and time for your planned cocktail party.
The cocktail party can be as formal or informal as you’d like. You can set aside an hour to catch up, or you can take turns and share toasts or wishes for the year ahead. If you host a cocktail party around Thanksgiving, you can rely on an old standby and ask everyone to share what they’re thankful for.
5. Play games or work a puzzle. After a hearty holiday meal, many families play board games or work a puzzle. These activities are a great way to digest and enjoy a good laugh. Is it possible to participate virtually, though? Absolutely!
From classics like jigsaw puzzles, charades, and Bingo to more modern offerings like Codenames, there are plenty of ways to exercise your competitive streak regardless of your location. If you’re still unsure where to begin, try this virtual trivia generator.
6. Watch a movie or television show. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to share your favorite movie or television show without having to be together in person? Believe it or not, there is.
Teleparty (formerly Netflix Play) is an online app that launched earlier this summer. It allows you to watch TV with anybody, even if you’re in a different state or country. Simply log in to the Teleparty app and stream content from Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or HBO Max.
Teleparty incorporates a group chat feature that appears on the right-hand side of your screen. This allows you to comment, share fun facts, or tell jokes. You can even share spoilers if you’d like, but beware –– other members of your family might put you on mute.
7. Open gifts together. Opening Hanukkah or Christmas gifts is one of the highlights of the holiday season. It’s always a thrill seeing your loved ones receive the presents you’ve meticulously selected.
To continue this tradition, consider opening gifts together via FaceTime or Zoom. All you need to do is set a specific date and time and send all participants the appropriate link. Once everyone is logged on and present, designate a host to oversee the proceedings.
Establish an order and have everyone open their presents one at a time. After opening a gift, put it in front of the camera so everyone can see. Repeat this process until everyone’s had a turn.
Younger children and teens might find online gift exchanges tedious. To ensure everyone has a good time, set a time limit of an hour or two hours max. That way, you can still enjoy the rest of the day without being tied to a screen.
These are just a few of the things you can do to enjoy the holidays in a socially-distanced fashion. For additional insights, check out these additional recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
How do you plan on celebrating the holidays this year? If you have a great idea that we missed, please submit a comment below.