HOW TO SPEND THE HOLIDAYS “TOGETHER”

by | HOLIDAYS

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17 VIRTUAL ACTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES

This holiday season will be like no other. If you are like me and trying to follow the guidelines about social distancing, you are probably not going to be participating in the holidays the same way you usually do. This means we need ideas of how to be with family, continue traditions, enjoy each other’s company, and keep everyone safe. Which is why I put together all of these virtual activities for families that you can use in the upcoming weeks.

WHERE TO START

It’s important to remember that normally we expend a lot of effort throughout the holidays, buying gifts, decorating, sending cards, making travel plans, etc.

Even though a normal holiday season may cause a lot of stress for us, it is still “stress that we know.”

We are more equipped to handle this stress, because we have been practicing it since we were little.

This year will be no exception for high stress levels.

For some it may seem like less, not having to travel and maybe not putting out as many decorations.

For others it will seem like more, simply because your tasks are different than what you are used to at this time of year.

Having to do tasks that are DIFFERENT can cause more stress than usual, even if the tasks aren’t very difficult.

It will be easy to fall into a state of mind where we don’t put any effort in, because things are different.

Don’t let this happen!

You can do this!

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PREPARING

Hosting a virtual party can be very simple or somewhat complex, depending on your usage level and what it is you want to do at your party.

If you’ve never hosted a virtual party before – don’t worry! Keep things simple and check out THIS LINK to be guided through all of the basics you will need to know. Including how to set up your meeting ahead of time and send the information to your guests.

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LEARN THE SOFTWARE FIRST

Schedule your virtual meeting so that you can send your invitations. Follow the link above if this is new for you.

If you have hosted a virtual meeting before, GO HERE to get tips on how to set up your microphone and webcam for optimal communication.

Or GO HERE for more tips on how to make your gathering a success!

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SEND YOUR INVITE

Send a colorful virtual invite with ALL the details.

Don’t forget to include the usual party information, especially the WHERE!

  • You’ll need to schedule your virtual meeting ahead of time and copy the joining information into your invitation.
  • Figure out what games you will be playing together
    • Is there anything your guests might need to bring with them to the meeting?
    • Include this in your invitation.
    • OR you could include the items they will need in a small care package with the invitation.

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BUILD EXCITEMENT

  • Like I just mentioned, you could send your guests a small package of items they may need in order to participate in your party. See some of the ideas in the list below!
  • Start a group chat with everyone and post uplifting messages leading up to the party.
  • Make a playlist of your favorite holiday music on Spotify or Apple Music and share it everyone.

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PREPARE YOUR SPACE

Prepare a cozy place to sit for your virtual meeting and encourage your guests to do the same.

  • Try not to be in the place that you would normally do work or school.
  • If that’s the only place you have, then decorate it a little, or bring in some comfy pillows and maybe some colorful holiday lights to “cozy it up.”
  • You could also find a festive background to use in your virtual environment – if your platform supports that kind of thing.

Finding an inviting, friendly place to meet with your family will set the mood for all of you.
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“Well, I can’t make it home, so I guess I’ll see you next year. Have a great time.”

Instead, I am trying to channel my energy into ways we can be together by collecting this list of virtual holiday activities for families.

I hope you can use some of them with your families this year. If you have other ideas, please share them in the chat below!

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17 VIRTUAL HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES

#1 Open Gifts!

Choose one or more presents to open together virtually.

I’m not sure I would try to open all your gifts together. That can get long for some people. But I do think it would be nice to take turns and open gifts from each other.

Don’t rush this activity. Have only one person opening a gift at a time. Enjoy each other’s company and appreciate the gifts that everyone is giving.

#2 Jigsaw Puzzle Challenge

Send the same puzzle to each family and then challenge them to who can get it done the quickest.

Have them take pictures along the way and text them to the group showing their progress.

#3 Decorate the Tree

Encourage others to take before & after pictures of their tree and post them to the group or bring them to the gather and have a show and tell time.

You could also challenge everyone to do a time lapse video of putting up their tree to share.

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#4 Mystery Close-Up Challenge

Take some closeup pictures of ornaments people might remember from your tree and see if they can guess which one it is. You could also just use traditional holiday items that anyone might recognize.

#5 Cookie Exchange

This one would definitely take some planning, but it is very doable and extra yummy!

Have a Virtual Cookie Exchange where each family bakes 1 dozen of their “signature cookie” for every family and then mails them out with their gifts or cards.

You’ll all end up with a bunch of fun cookies that will remind you of family.

Challenge everyone to share pictures of their cookie displays once they get them all.

#6 Quality Time

During your virtual meeting spend a little time with everyone.

Start out chatting about this and that. Then send the kids to a breakout room to chat by themselves while the adults say hello.

If you are using Google Meets, you may not have access to breakout rooms yet, so this one might have to be done using Zoom.

Don’t minimize this idea. I just polled my family members and every single one of them asked for this to be something we do together.

Or separate in this case. 😉

#7 Read a Book

Read your favorite holiday book together in the meet.

Either take turns reading or have a beloved family member read it to everyone else as they are snuggled up with their hot cocoa.

If not everyone has the book, the person who does could hold it up to the camera for everyone to see.

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#8 Watch a Movie

Send the kids to a google meet to watch a movie while the adults chat on zoom – or another google meet.

There are several ways to stream movies together. Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and HBO all support easy options for you to consider.

#9 Craft Together

Design and craft an ornament that your family can make for family and friends that represents this year. You could send this ahead of time with your invitation.

You could also send the supplies to make the ornament with the invitation and then make them together.

If you would like to do more with your holiday time, choose a pre-party date to make these together and then you can hang them on your trees.

#10 Sing a Song

Create your own version of The 12 Days of Christmas!

Explain the directions and then stop the meeting or use breakout rooms for people to work.

Give teams a time limit of 20-40 min. to decide on their ideas and create “posters” for each day.

Determine your time limit based on the age of the people in each group.

You could combine families into breakout rooms, especially if they have small children. This would also speed up your activity since each family would only need to come up with a few ideas, instead of all twelve.

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#11 Being Thankful

Go around the group and tell everyone something you are thankful for.

I feel like this activity is needed more than any other since this year has been full of so many emotions.

Lead your family through this important activity, even if they groan or complain about it. This is one of those things that some people don’t think they want to do, but it’s good for them. Plus, they are usually glad they did it after the fact.

#12 Ugly Sweater Contest

Ask your guests on the invitation to wear their best ugly sweaters at your event.

You could have a contest with everyone, where the winner gets a surprise gift card.

Encourage people to stand up and model their entries to add more excitement. And don’t make anyone feel badly if they decide not to join in on the fun.

#13 Chat & Color

Sometimes just sitting and coloring is relaxing and calming. It gives people something to do while they are sitting together, but still allows for conversation.

Send family members a holiday coloring book (or page) ahead of time.  That way you all have something to color together while you sip your favorite drink and show off your artistry.

The thing I like about this idea is that coloring slows down the conversation and you have less people trying to talk over one another. For some reason it seems to pace out people’s contributions more than a typical virtual meeting.

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#14 Party Props

Send props or costume pieces for people to wear to the party or have them bring their own.

If you decide to send something with your invitation, you could just include one item, such as reindeer antlers.

Announce ahead of time that there will be a contest at the party, featuring who can wear this item the most creatively with what they are wearing. Encourage people to dress up and even add to the decoration of the item you’ve sent.

#15 Gift Exchange

You can still participate in your yearly exchanging of gifts. It just might take a little more planning and preparations to get things mailed out before your holiday party.

You could also go completely virtual and give online gifts, such as virtual gift cards. Or meaningful posters made with PowerPoint or Google Slides.

If you have kids, you could create a slideshow presentation of the things they’ve done this year.

#16 Dance Party

Create a playlist ahead of time on Apple Music or Spotify. Share it with all of your guests either in your invitation or at the beginning of your virtual party.

At random times through the meet, call out “DANCE PARTY!”

Everyone plays the next song on the list, or you could play it from your computer, and they dance along with the music coming through the meeting.

You could even go so far as to give some people the ability to call directions out in the middle of the song, like “freeze” or “slow motion”

#17 Play Games

You could have one person create all of the games and host the event. Or you could have each family prepare a game to play with everyone else.

Give families guidelines as to how long it should last and what the ages are of the people that will probably be playing.

Be sure to add this request to your invitation too!

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That’s a lot of ideas to help your holidays be extra special this year, even if they feel extra different.

Hopefully, you will be able to use at least one of these virtual holiday activities for families in the next couple of weeks to celebrate with your family and friends.

 

Good luck & happy organizing!

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