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How to Stay Connected to the Family Members You Won’t Be Able to See this Holiday Season?

How to Stay Connected to the Family Members You Won’t Be Able to See this Holiday Season?


The holidays are often spent with friends and family. While the 2020 holiday season is marred by the pandemic, it doesn’t mean that you can’t share the holidays with your loved ones. Here are some tips for connecting with your family and friends in the era of social distancing.

Video Chats 

Many of us have gotten more tech-savvy throughout this pandemic. In fact, you may have already interacted with family members this year that you’d typically only see during the holidays! 

This increase in “face time” with loved ones is perhaps one of the few silver linings of this pandemic. So, why change it now? Video chat with your loved ones more than ever!

Prep Thanksgiving dinner with Grandma and Grandpa on FaceTime. Set up a daily Google hangout between cousins so they can find each day’s Elf on the Shelf together. Spin the dreidel with your besties on Zoom. 

Do whatever it takes to see the faces and hear the voices of the ones you love most. They are what make the holidays so special!

Meal Sharing 

Whether it’s Friendsgiving with the crew, Karamu Ya Imani with your family, or a New Year’s Eve date with your boo, holidays are synonymous with traditions. Almost all of our customs are deeply intertwined with food. Even if we’re in a pandemic, we still need to eat!

There are many opportunities to partake in the usual traditions. We just need to think outside the box. 

Here are a few tips:

  • Drop off a traditional meal on the doorstep of someone you care about
  • Have your favorite restaurant deliver the exact same meal to you and someone else to enjoy over Zoom together
  • Cook a meal together on Google Hangouts (Maybe Gram will finally share that secret recipe!)
  • Host a virtual holiday party with a signature drink (CBD holiday cocktails, anyone?)

Sure, it’s not the same as in previous years. However, it’s not helpful to dwell on the differences. Instead, be thankful for your health and your squad. Be in the present and create new memories that will last a lifetime. 

Social Distanced Fun 

We can still do a lot of the same things we did in the summertime, just with a wintery twist. Decorate your car for the holidays and have a neighborhood parade; drive by your friends’ and family’s homes and honk or blast some festive music. Drive around and look at holiday lights and decorations. 

You can also still do outdoor activities together; just mask up (and bundle up if you live in a cold and snowy climate)! Visit a tree farm and pick out a Christmas tree. Host a snowman (or woman) building contest in the neighborhood. Go sledding with your siblings for old time’s sake. If it’s not quite so frigid where you live, take a holiday walk, or have a picnic. There are so many opportunities to get outdoors and spend quality time with loved ones this holiday season!

Movie Watch-Alongs 

I mean, the holiday season begins the minute The Nightmare Before Christmas stops running on every station and Elf takes its place, right? You can still enjoy watching the movies that make this season predictably comforting; just keep everyone on their own couch in their own home. Schedule watch parties of your favorite movies with your favorite people. Organize a group video chat, and make sure you all press ‘play’ at the same time!

If you live in a warmer area or have outdoor heaters, consider setting up a projector outside for a socially distanced movie night. Make some warm apple cider or toast marshmallows and watch Eight Crazy Nights or The Black Candle. You might create new traditions to carry with you post-pandemic!

Maintain Traditions 

Just because your loved ones aren’t physically with you, it doesn’t mean your traditional celebrations have to stop. Many of us struggle with these issues when someone dear passes away; missing out on spending the holidays with loved ones during a pandemic can elicit that same feeling of loss. Honor your family members wherever they are, by following the same traditions!

Take a moment to think of the people who are not with you. Visualize the roles they usually play in these traditions. Be grateful for their presence. You’ll be amazed by how you can “feel” them with you.

Of course, you can always virtually include your loved one. For instance, the family’s patriarch signing off on the son-in-law carving the holiday turkey could be a beautiful right of passage. Grandma watching her grandson light the menorah each night can make her feel like she’s still a part of things.. This pandemic can force us into new and different traditions, and can forge stronger connections if we allow it. 

Send a Cameo 

Thinking about someone you can’t be with this holiday season? Do something fun for them! Send them a Cameo from their favorite star. 

Cameo has blown up during the pandemic. It allows you to send personalized video messages to your loved one, with celebrities as the messenger. Your sister will appreciate her ex-favorite boy bander wishing her a Happy New Year, and your dad will enjoy his favorite QB wishing him a nice Kwanzaa. 

Social Media Challenges 

Social media is the ultimate tool to stay connected. It’s helped us keep tabs on people we went to elementary school with 40 years ago; it will most certainly bring us closer to people we actually care about! 

Challenges are the new frontier of social media. These platforms are a fun way to “hang out” with each other and make socially distanced holidays more fun. 

Do a “grateful” challenge leading up to Thanksgiving. Tag people you are grateful for and have them do the same. 

Create baking challenges on Instagram and have holiday dance parties on TikTok. Start a Facebook group where you recommend holiday recipes, and everyone shares pictures and reviews of the end result. 

Download a social media fitness app, like Strava or Fit Together. Invite friends and family to follow your health and wellness journey so that you’re held accountable for your New Year’s Resolutions. It might encourage others to make healthier lifestyle choices, too! 

Think of ways to interact with those you care about most and combine them with activities that you love. Then make a challenge of it!

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