Coming Together for the Holidays When We Are Far Apart

Not travelling anywhere this holiday season? Lots of families are in the same boat. But, with some digital video technology and a little ingenuity, here’s how you can put your best foot forward and connect with family that is far away. 

Set Things Up Ahead of Time

Are you the designated techie in the family? Make sure you coordinate with everyone ahead of time. Consider the following list of suggestions: 

  • Make sure everyone has the right software installed and updated. 
  • Make sure everyone knows how to use the software properly. For example, if you’re all on Zoom, people should know how to share screens, set passwords, and mute microphones. 
  • Make sure everyone has a good microphone, earbuds, headset, or other audio set up. 
  • Make sure everyone has the right (and current) drivers installed for whatever tech they’re using. 
  • Make sure you’ve optimised your home internet so things don’t go amiss on the big day. 

Upgrade Grandma’s Internet 

You likely have family members with basic internet plans because, until now, they haven’t had to do much in the way of digital video streaming. But now it’s becoming more common, your gift to them can be figuring out how much bandwidth they need and helping them upgrade their plans. 

Open Gifts on Screen

Exchanging gifts? You can still open them in front of each other, just via camera. Tell your kids they’re starring in real-time reaction videos. Or unboxing videos. 

Family Cooking School

Does Mom make the best butter tarts? Or do you hate to miss out on Uncle Al’s eggnog? Why not do a cool-along where everyone learns how to make a family favourite? 

Play a Game

There are a number of board games, both classic and new, you can play with family virtually. Alternatively, play a video game together. Sure, banging out a meal in Overcooked 2 isn’t the same as a massive family feast, but it’s pretty fun and there’s no clean-up involved. And you get to be a panda if you want!

Kid Entertainment Value

Consider this your kid’s small-screen debut. Why not have all the kids in the family do something like put on a holiday play, sing songs, or otherwise entertain the adults in the crowd? 

Gingerbread House Decorating Contest 

It’s fun, competitive, and you get to eat candy. What’s not to like? Family members or different branches of the family can all compete, either by all working from the same kit or go no-rules and let everyone build as complex a gingerbread mansion as they want. Vote for a winner, designate a judge, or just eat delicious candy and chat. 

Do Decoration Tours

Did you put the decorations up early and really go all out this year? Many of us have, so why not show off a little? Open up your family get-together by touring each other’s houses virtually and admire all the decorating. 

Read a Book Together

Some families do The Night Before Christmas, others go for The Polar Express. Whatever you prefer, you can share the experience with everyone virtually before sending the tots to bed. 

Make a List of What You’re Grateful for and What You’re Looking Forward To

It’s been a hard year. But that shouldn’t mean we can all be thankful for the many blessings in our lives or that we can’t look forward to all the things we’ll do in 2021. And it can help to say these things out loud, to the people we love—even if we’re reaching out through screens and fibre.