Spending the Holidays Apart? 10 Virtual Ways to Stay Festive

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By DeVry University

December 18, 2020
5 min read

This year many of us will be starting new traditions: virtual traditions. We might have to spend the holidays apart, but that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy quality time in cyberspace and still have a festive celebration! These ideas help to keep us connected as friends and family from near and far to enjoy the holiday season together.

1. Host a Virtual Holiday-Themed Party

Gathering together to enjoy the company of your loved ones is one of the best parts of the holiday season for many. Since that might not be possible this year, find a different way to get together. Use an app like Zoom or Skype to host a holiday party and invite your friends and family both close by and across the world.

Since mingling and chatting are limited online, consider a festive itinerary or a theme for the partygoers. That way, you can have fun together while participating in bonding activities. You can also have a list of topics you want to talk about if you haven't caught up with people for a while.

Some virtual holiday party themes and ideas you could consider include:

  • Holiday costume party: Whether you choose “ugly sweaters” or another theme, ask your friends and family to dress up before they join. You can even hold a contest for best dressed.
  • White elephant gift exchange: If you've never participated in a white elephant gift exchange before, this year is the perfect time to try! Draw names and ask attendees to ship a funny gift to their recipient before the party. While you won’t be able to “steal” gifts virtually, you can still enjoy some laughs while you open them.
  • Holiday traditions party: This is a great way to celebrate with friends from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. Ask each guest to share something about their typical holiday festivities, whether it’s a favorite family tradition, recipe or memory.

2. Put Together a Holiday Playlist

Share the music of the season by putting everyone's favorite holiday songs in a playlist – create it in free apps like Spotify and MixCloud – and send it out to your friends and family.

3. Celebrate with Holiday Bingo

One activity you can easily do over a video chat is holiday bingo. Craft your own bingo cards that relate to your family or friend’s specific characteristics or memories. If that sounds like too much work in an already busy season, then go online and print off a ready-made version. Send the link to everyone with fun ideas for bingo markers, such as:

  • Small candies
  • Miniature ornaments
  • Buttons
  • Coins

You can even have prizes! If you want to keep it entirely virtual, consider an e-gift card of the winner's choice. Otherwise, you can ship prizes once the game is over.

4. Make It Feel Festive

Decorate your home this year to keep your spirits uplifted with the season's magic. Bake cookies and other seasonal treats to infuse the ambiance with taste and smell. As you begin to host video chats and virtual family get togethers, you can use decorations to add a festive background to your holiday celebrations.

No time to decorate? You can always download a holiday-themed background for your video chats.

5. Officiate a Gingerbread Competition

A gingerbread competition brings excitement to the holiday with a good-natured game. Ask friends and family to submit a photo of their gingerbread house creations then post them anonymously in a Facebook album or cloud file. Ask friends and family to cast their vote for the funniest, most festive and most elaborate houses. In the end, everyone's a winner since you can all enjoy the spoils of the competition.

6. Gather Family for a Virtual Holiday Meal

A twist on a traditional holiday party is to gather everyone together virtually for a meal. At the designated time, sit the computer at the head of the table, log into Zoom and enjoy a meal together. Friends and relatives from near and far can join in – even those who are out of state and normally miss out on holiday festivities.

7. "Go" Caroling

If caroling is one of your favorite seasonal activities, you can still enjoy singing merry tunes with others. Try out a virtual karaoke night or ask if you can do a Zoom caroling session in a nursing home that you would typically visit during the holiday.

8. Send Gift Boxes

Don't forgo the joy of gift-giving this season. Shop online for gift boxes and care packages to loved ones near and far to let them know that you are thinking about them this season.

9. Play Virtual Secret Santa

For some people, holiday games like Secret Santa and White Elephant are their favorite traditions. Having a virtual holiday doesn't have to stop you from enjoying these games. Use an online name selector for friends and family who want to play Secret Santa and have them mail the gifts in time to unwrap online.

For the white elephant, unveil a picture of each gift online and "trade" them virtually when the exchange begins. Someone (you) will have to gather all the pictures, track how many times a gift was traded and who ends up with which gift. Contributors can ship the gift to whoever ends up with the ugly holiday sweater or pickled pigs feet.

10. Watch Traditional Christmas Classics

With technology today, it is possible to hold a movie marathon across households. Make a list of your family's seasonal classics and decide which ones you want to watch during the marathon. You can also host a couple of movie nights spread throughout the season if you only have time for one each time.

To do this, use a program like Skype and have one person share their screen. Everyone else who has joined in on the call will be able to see the picture and hear the sound as the movie plays.

Make It a Year to Remember

Even though things might look a little different this year, there are many ways to keep the merriment and festivities rolling during this holiday season. Whether or not you have to spend the holidays apart, you can enjoy new, virtual traditions that may last for years to come.

Reference in this publication to any specific commercial product, process or service, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for general information purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation or certification of any kind by DeVry University. Persons using such products and services assume responsibility for their use in accordance with the provider’s current terms and conditions.

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