10 Ways to Make Virtual Holidays Special
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 holidays will likely look very different for many families. Gatherings may be much smaller, and many of them will be done virtually. With a little planning ahead, there are plenty of ways to make virtual holiday celebrations special. Try out some of these ideas, and don’t forget to put up all the twinkly lights in the background.
Cookie decorating contest
No matter the holiday, festively decorated cookies are always fun to see (and eat!). This is a chance to get creative and show everyone your best, worst, or silliest edible artwork. Set a day and time for the baking “showcase” and get everyone on screen to display their creations. Make sure to add in time for everyone to eat their masterpieces together.
If there will be younger kids joining the virtual holiday celebrations, consider hosting a talent show during the event. A talent show is a great way to help kids feel included in the festivities (plus, it’s great entertainment for the adults, too!). If any of the kids want to participate, but feel too shy to show off their talents during the live event, give them the option to record their talent ahead of time to show instead.
For many people, this is needed more than ever in a year like 2020. Invite friends and family to join on screen and talk about the good things, silver linings, and unexpected happiness they’ve experienced this year. You could start off with a prompt asking about something they appreciate about staying at home.
Even at home, scavenger hunts can get interesting! Make up a short list of everyday items in the house, including some that might take on more meaning during the pandemic (like flour or toilet paper). Create hints about the identity of these items. When the virtual party begins, read off the clues and see if people can guess each item. Participants will receive 1 point if they guess the clue right and an additional 1 point if they have the item in their home!
Cooking and baking together
For some families and friends, cooking and baking together is one of the best parts of the holidays. Even during quarantine, you can still create the feeling of being in the kitchen together. This is where using a laptop and a video conferencing tool like Zoom, with a wider range of visibility, may work better than a video chat like Facetime. Set up the laptop in a safe place and try out a new recipe together. You could also make your own friendly version of The Great British Baking Show with a recipe challenge. Or you could swap a favorite recipe and see how others put their own twist on it.
Playing online board games
For those who love a little board game competition, there are many a best solitaire app out there, as well as apps like Board Game Arena and Tabletopia have large libraries of virtual board games that can either be played in the browser or downloaded. Tabletopia simulates the entire board and pieces and offers access to a larger library with a paid subscription. Once you assemble a team, you can use video chat to communicate and play together.
Clothing themes: Ugly sweater, dressing up, holiday accents
Invite everyone to dress up in their best—or their ugliest! Whether it’s a garish holiday sweater from the thrift store, the sparkliest sequined top, a gold sparkly prom dress, or reindeer antlers, encourage everyone to be a little silly and bring their drink of choice.
If your family or group of friends have always enjoyed wineries and other tastings together, you have a few virtual options for all the holiday gatherings. Highly rated virtual wine tastings include Priority Wine Pass, which offers the ability to schedule at a specific winery and coordinate the wine shipments ahead of time. The winery will then set up a Zoom link and room for the group. For non-alcohol alternatives, Seedlip offers high-quality non-alcoholic tonics and spirits to use in their elegant recipes.
A virtual secret gift exchange will work best with a group organizer to manage the list of names and the group event, but once that’s arranged, this is very doable. Once everyone gets the name of the person they have, they can send out a gift (either online or through their mail). After all the gifts are delivered, the group organizer can then set up the video chat party. Each person can then open their present and guess their secret gift giver.
New Year’s toast
Encourage everyone to dress in their best and have their favorite drink ready to toast to a new year. Depending on time zones, some people may be closer to midnight than others, but you can all still toast together. You can also ask everyone to talk about what they learned from 2020—and their goals and hopes for 2021.
These are extraordinary times and at Era Living retirement communities, we want to help both our residents and our neighbors feel joy and connection during the holiday season. We hope these ideas help inspire fun virtual holiday festivities for you and your loved ones.