As we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, Covid certainly jams up a lot of plans. But we can still have fun with family and friends with a little extra planning and creativity! Here are several ideas to add a little jolly to your holiday season, while spending time together – without actually being together. 🙂 First things first, you’ll need to get everyone’s email address, to set things up. Here are some great options to get the wheels turning for you to plan fun holiday events!
- Create a family cookbook with all the fixings! Most of us take for granted that certain dishes will be brought by family members for the big dinners. Whether it’s grandma’s perfect sugar cookies or your cousin’s green bean casserole – we likely never asked for the recipe. Ask everyone to participate and send in their favorite holiday recipes, then compile them into a list to share with the whole gang. Although this year we might not be sitting down at the same table, we can still savor the same traditional dishes and favorite desserts. Set up a video session at dinner to show off your mad culinary skills and see “who made the dish the best.”
- Host a virtual ugly sweater contest & icebreaker game! There are several fun conversation and icebreaker games out there to spark up great family conversations, or create your own. Have everyone join the same video session wearing their favorite ugly sweater, and the winner will get either a fun prize, or an honorary award like first choice for the next game, “immunity” to skip game questions, etc. Have fun with it! Take the opportunity to learn more about your family and friends by asking questions like, ‘If you could only read books by one author for the rest of your life, whom would it be and why?’ Add a tropical twist by having an ugly Hawaiian shirt contest instead with a luau theme!
- Solve a virtual murder mystery or escape room game! Pick a theme and find a related game, or write your own using your home town or special family landmark as the central storyline. Give everyone a fun character and script ahead of time, or simply wing it with no scripts but provide clues throughout. Not feeling up for writing your own? There are plenty of fun games available online, many of them available for free.
- Compete at a virtual trivia night with a signature cocktail! Trivia nights are always fun and can be customized really easily based on holiday or other themes. Add some fun by sending out a signature event cocktail recipe – or hot cocoa / apple cider recipe – to everyone first to set the stage. Maybe also even include a themed menu for appetizers and snacks. The more you can make it an “event,” the more fun it will be. For trivia, you can pick a theme like holiday movies or family trivia. Whatever you choose, the goal is to have fun and laugh together.
- Gather for charades or bingo! Video calls / sessions play really well with charades and bingo. Players can come up with their own ideas for charades, receive a unique list from the planner, or anything in between. Kids especially love charades and there are really fun options around the holidays for themed charades. For bingo, cards can be emailed out while a moderator calls out the selections. Another great option is to have a virtual gingerbread house building competition!
- Plan a virtual 5K! Pick a day and time, for a “jingle bell” or “turkey trot” 5K and then create a post-race meetup for everyone to share pictures from their run, walk, or cross-country ski. Create awards for fastest finisher or other fun categories like ‘slowest dog.’ Consider creating a special order for family race T-shirts / hats that everyone can wear and post photos with. Consider also creating a playlist for the race, asking everyone to submit their favorite tunes. The goal is to get everyone active, while still feeling part of the overall “team.”
- Watch the same event online or on TV. We all have so many traditions from watching the Thanksgiving Day parades, attending church services together, or going out to see holiday movies or theater. Fortunately, most of these now have virtual options, so you can still go to church together (virtually), attend holiday concerts (virtually), or stream The Nutcracker.
- Move your White Elephant gift exchange online! This is always a favorite game with my family and we love to giggle about the silly gifts and who gets stuck with them. To move it online, have everyone participating to send in two photos of their gift (1 wrapped and 1 unwrapped) with the explanation of the contents to a chosen game moderator. The moderator will compile a presentation of all the wrapped gifts, draw names randomly for each players “turn” (add in a twist, saying the winner of the ugly sweater contest gets the first choice), and then “open” the gift by presenting the opened photo version. The game runs as usual where players get the opportunity to “steal” someone else’s gift and the moderator keeps track. At the end of the game, the gifts are mailed to each of the winners.
- Schedule a book club brunch! Pick your favorite holiday book (shameless plug) and share a brunch menu ahead of time. The gang can enjoy a fun conversation about the book while enjoying an eggnog or two, along with a themed brunch menu. For example, if you are reading Christmas at Maplemont Manor, your menu could include food from the book like gingerbread pancakes, bacon, and a spinach salad with a maple-soy vinaigrette.
- Go Caroling (virtually)! My family always went caroling around town, and while you might think that caroling doesn’t translate well online – it’s actually pretty easy to hold your own caroling concert. Share the music ahead of time and get your “choir” ready – probably best to test it out at least once. Then invite your neighbors to join in! Another option is to hold a virtual concert – maybe your flute player lives in Nashville and your piano player lives in Seattle! No problem! Get the band together virtually and tell your friends and family how they can watch the concert.
Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to create really fun options for your virtual holiday celebrations this year. There are so many opportunities to still get together, without leaving our own homes. Please stay safe and continue keeping others safe. With a little extra planning and creativity, you can still have tons of holiday fun. Happiest of holidays to you and yours. 🙂