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Connecting With Long-Distance Family for the Holidays

long-distance family holiday

No matter which holidays you celebrate, it’s time to reimagine classic holiday traditions and find new and unique ways to connect with loved ones and spread joy safely this year. From remote gift-giving to virtual parties, here are some of our favorite ideas for festive, digital get-togethers with long-distance family and friends.

Sending Greeting Cards

Americans send approximately 1.3 billion cards to friends and loved ones every holiday season, according to Hallmark.

Whether you opt for print or electronic greeting cards, sending holiday cards to friends, family and co-workers is a nice way to reach out. Consider writing a personal or family newsletter to share more details with loved ones – like what you did to stay sane during quarantine or your plans for next year. Handwrite letters for an extra personal touch or include family photos.

Spread even more joy by sending holiday cards to essential workers, hospitals, nursing homes, troops overseas or veterans – and encourage friends and family to do the same.

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Decorating Your Space

Nothing ignites the spirit of the holidays quite like decorating. So, go all out with your indoor and outdoor decor this year.

Show the transformation of your spaces by taking before and after pictures to share on social media. Or give friends and long-distance family a virtual tour using an online platform like Skype, Zoom Meeting, FaceTime (for iPhone users) or Google Duo, Meet or Hangouts.

Consider making some homemade decorations, too. Have the kids join in the crafting – and send to friends and family members – or hold a virtual crafting party with loved ones.

long-distance family holiday

Giving Gifts to Long-Distance Family

There’s no shame in sending money, gift cards or small, thoughtful gifts to loved ones through the mail this year. Reduce the quantity of gifts you have to give with a Secret Santa gift exchange. Use apps like Elfster and Santa’s Secret Keeper or visit a website like to randomize and draw participants’ names. Then set a monetary limit, send gifts through the mail and choose a later date to meet up online and open your presents.

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If friends or family members live nearby, consider leaving a surprise care package or gift on their front porch.

Baking Seasonal Treats

No matter how strong your sweet tooth, the holidays are a time to indulge. Fill your home with delicious smells by making cookies, candies or other treats with long-distance family and friends over video chat. Make traditional family recipes, fan-favorites and crowd-pleasers or try making new discoveries together.

Share secret ingredients, tried-and-true methods and must-have kitchen tools. Or see how a friend or family member makes their version of a classic holiday treat. Make sure you have all the baking supplies you’ll need with this list.

Once everything is baked, consider doing a socially distanced cookie swap with local friends and family.

Playing Holiday Games

It’s important to try and have some fun during the holidays, and that’s especially true this year. Have a holiday party and get your remote guests talking with festive icebreaker questions, covering everything from their weirdest and favorite childhood gifts, to secret holiday hacks and their quirkiest holiday decorations.

Play games with a holiday twist – like bingo, charades or “Name That Song” – with loved ones over video chat. Keep things extra engaging with some festive competitions like a gingerbread house decorating contest or an ugly sweater competition.

Find more fun virtual games the whole family will enjoy, here.

Counting Down to the New Year

Celebrate the end of 2020 with a virtual New Year’s Eve party. Decorate your background, have everyone dress up and play games with friends and family virtually.

Dance to your heart’s content, tell funny or insightful stories and decide on a New Year’s resolution. Reflect over the past year and make predictions for the next one. Finally, make a toast and ring in the new year with a countdown and plenty of celebratory noise.

Staying Safe this Season

“Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household (who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19) poses the lowest risk for spread,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While nothing can truly replace beloved holidays traditions, making accommodations to keep yourself, your loved ones and your community safe is one of the most generous things you can do this holiday season.

For more ways to get into the holiday spirit, check out this holiday savings guide.


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