The 2020 holiday season is here and with it a desire to see family despite the ongoing global pandemic. This year has been one of sacrifice. It has meant letting go of our personal desires in the name of the greater good. Whether you had plans to travel or to gather for a meal, the holidays make it even more tempting to throw caution to the wind. We all want to see our loved ones, maybe even hug them for the first time in a while. But if missing an in-person gathering with family this year means they will be around for many more years of good times, I would argue that this small sacrifice is well worth it. Additionally, this doesn’t mean you can’t find fabulous ways to celebrate virtually.

Gather Online

Whether it is via Zoom, Webex, or Google Hangout, there are tons of applications that allow us to stay connected with those we love. iPhones even have a group facetime feature. Organize the dinner table so that you can set up your computer in a convenient spot with nice lighting and voila! Seeing everyone’s faces and hearing their voices is guaranteed to make everyone smile. Going virtual even means you can invite anyone to participate, including family that would otherwise not have been able to make it in person. If you’re worried about elders having technological difficulties, many care facilities have people available on holidays to assist with any technological malfunctions.

woman in a christmas sweater on a video call with friend

Virtual Game Night

I posted an Instagram poll to hear what ideas others had for ways to celebrate this year. Many of the submissions involved online contests or games to play with family, including a virtual gingerbread house making contest, cookie decorating sessions, bingo, ugly sweater contests, and an at-home scavenger hunt. Here is a list of even more virtual holiday party ideas you and your loved ones can try.

Dress Up

While it is certainly more comfortable staying in your pajama pants, getting all dressed up can help make the occasion feel even more special. Take the time to prioritize yourself and wear what makes you feel the most confident. Whatever it is, make sure it excites you and makes you feel beautiful. This can be a small way to feel a sense of normalcy and remind yourself that you are worth the glamour.

You can even get friends and family involved by hosting a photo challenge. Take turns choosing themes and send a picture of your final product to the group chat. You can do outfits inspired by your favorite TV shows, movies, music, or books. Elders in your family can show off their vintage pieces if you do outfits through the decades.

Get Creative

This year, you don’t have to fly or drive anywhere. You won’t be obligated to cook or clean up after anyone. Use that extra time to your advantage and create new traditions. Letter writing has been incredibly therapeutic for me. I recommend writing letters to friends or family you wish you were seeing in person this year. Draw, paint, or collage something festive! I ordered a couple of paint and sip kits from A Splash of Color. Have a photoshoot! Or my personal favorite: learn some TikTok dances and teach them to others.

The silver lining to missing out on visiting everyone is that you have the time to sit back, relax, and get creative.

assorted-color paints

Mail-In Gift Exchange

Participants on my Instagram poll also recommended doing a virtual gift exchange. There are dozens of websites created to help organize exchanges including Elfster. All you have to do is register and join your group. These sites will anonymously assign gift-givers and their receiver. Once you share a list of addresses with your participants, simply mail your gift to whoever you receive and wait for yours to arrive. For a more affordable version, try a greeting card exchange. After everyone receives their gifts/ cards you can organize a video call for an unboxing session.

Get Into The Spirit!

Regardless of the holidays, you celebrate, find a way to get yourself into the spirit of the season. As someone who celebrates Christmas, I have already started blasting Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” and begun to assemble my holiday playlist. I also binge-watched all of the Home Alone movies and made a list of the other movies and shows that get me excited for the holidays. Whatever it may be, find ways to get yourself in the spirit because you deserve it! A friend of mine recommended driving through your neighborhood and soaking in the beauty of all the festive light decorations.

Celebrate the holidays this year with these socially distanced holiday party ideas.

Holiday Playlist

You can get into the holiday spirit together by creating a collaborative playlist where friends and family can add songs while remaining safely apart in your own homes. Apple Music, Spotify, and Youtube all offer this feature. These services are easy to use and collaborating on a holiday playlist is a fun way to keep everyone connected and share music recommendations.

Virtual Movie Marathons

One of my favorite pastimes is watching movies with the people I love. There are a number of major streaming services that allow you and a group to watch the same movie or show by syncing your devices. If you use Netflix, you can download the Netflix Party extension. This is a third-party browser extension that allows up to 50 people to watch anything available on Netflix at the same time and even includes a chat bar. Hulu offers Hulu Watch Party. If you use Amazon Prime they offer a feature called Amazon Watch Party. Disney + released a watch party feature called GroupWatch that works on smart TVs, as well as on your computer or mobile device.

black flat screen tv turned on displaying 11

No matter how hard it is to miss those family moments, it’s worth it to keep them safe and healthy. Going virtual does not mean compromising on the fun. It is still possible to create special memories that last you a lifetime. It is essential now more than ever to stay connected with our loved ones and to find safe ways to celebrate the holidays this year.