Dealing with the stressors of pandemic life has been a struggle for Americans coast-to-coast. I personally have been out of touch with family, friends, and the normalcy I once found intrinsic to everyday life.
And with Christmas fast approaching, I, like many others, am facing the prospect of spending the most wonderful time of the year alone. It’s the responsible thing for me to do in the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not lonely. Thankfully, just like it helps us in our everyday lives, technology can help make the holidays as special as they are every other year.
After some testing with friends and family, I’ve discovered ways to take classic group activities and adapt them to our new digital world. And believe me, these are so easy to implement that even grandma can figure it out, or at least my grandma could. So here are five ways to turn your lonely holiday season into a fun affair, no matter where you are.
1. Online dinner
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is sitting down at a table with friends and family and enjoying a nice meal. Thanks to technology, that tradition doesn’t have to change. Make up some of your favorite side dishes, buy a little turkey or roast for one, and set up the camera. You get the fun of a family dinner with all the added pleasures of a mute button.
Want to talk politics or the economy? You can even create breakout rooms to split up the adults and the kids to keep them from getting bored.
2. Watch the game together
For the sports fans in the family, what makes Christmas better than a fun game of basketball? Some of my clearest memories as a kid were of watching Christmas day basketball games with my dad and getting especially excited when the Bulls would play. I didn’t care much for the game, but it was definitely funny seeing my dad and uncles get riled up by calls they disagreed with.
A good game deserves an audience, so start a conference call to watch it as a group. Get together to complain about the bad calls and support your home team with the help of friends and family.
3. Set up a Secret Santa
Times are hard for everyone right now when it comes to money and gifts. A Secret Santa can save you from buying multiple presents and allows you to be more thoughtful with your choice.
As a broke college student, Secret Santa has been my friend group’s saving grace for the holidays. I remember freshman year my friends and I all gathered in my tiny dorm room to celebrate. We put our presents under the artificial Christmas tree that just barely fit under my lofted bed. It was definitely one of my fondest memories from my first year of college.
A lot has changed within the last two years, but this is one thing that is always the same: Good people showing one another how much they care. The logistics may be a little different, but once the basics are covered, turning to an online platform like Elfster is a breeze. Just drop gifts off or mail them beforehand. Then on Christmas day, you can set up a Zoom call so everyone can open presents together. Everyone needs a little Christmas magic, and what’s more magical than a heartfelt gift?
4. Stream movies
Thanks to the popularization of streaming services, it’s easier than ever to watch movies with friends. There are a plethora of apps and websites at your disposal to stream holiday-themed movies and shows and then binge whatever your heart desires. My personal favorites are “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Santa Clause,” and I will be watching and rewatching those all month. Also through chat functions you can often interact outside of the film, making it a fun activity even if the flick isn’t your cup of tea.
5. Zoom karaoke
One of the best parts of the Christmas season is the music. My fondest memories from Christmases of my youth are of holiday choir concerts and driving around with the Christmas station turned all the way up. This year doesn’t have to be any different! Get the whole family in an online meeting room, share your screens, and sing along to YouTube karaoke tracks for your favorite tunes.
For many of us, the holidays are the one time of year where the family has an excuse to take off work and come together for some much-needed camaraderie. While the world may be changing more every day, this can be one thing that never has to change.