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5 fun ways to remotely connect with family and friends this holiday

Here are five ideas to spice up your holiday Zoom call and make it feel more like a party and less like a meeting.
Even if you can't get together in person with family or friends this holiday, there are plenty of ways to connect with them remotely.
Even if you can't get together in person with family or friends this holiday, there are plenty of ways to connect with them remotely.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images / Shutterstock
/ Source: TODAY

The holidays are going to look very different this year since getting together in person with friends and family will have to wait.

Thankfully, we're living in a time where technology can facilitate our meet-ups virtually. Our favorite people — no matter where they live — are only a computer click away. And we can still connect and have some fun together.

Below, see five things you can do with friends and family to make the holidays special this year.

1. Watch a Christmas movie together

Have a Christmas movie watch party with family on your favorite streaming service. Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Even if you can’t be in the same room with your family this year, you can still pull off your annual tradition of watching your favorite Christmas movie together. All the major streaming platforms have features that allow different households to connect and stream movies at the same time. That way, when the right time comes, you can all shout in unison, “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal!”

2. Take a family cooking class

If you can't be there in person to eat your mom's food, have her teach you how to make it.Jamie Grill / Getty Images

In every family there’s at least one recipe that’s a staple for the holiday dinner. Maybe it’s mom’s stuffing or dad’s sticky toffee pudding or even grandma’s famous rum punch. Set up a video chat cooking class and send the ingredient list to everyone in the family a week before so they can be prepared. During the event, have the person walk through each step of the recipe while everyone else makes it at home. The best part (besides seeing your family, of course) is getting to taste it after the class!

3. Have a virtual gingerbread house contest

It's fun and delicious!Jamie Grill / Getty Images

If making gingerbread houses with family or friends has been a tradition (or even if it hasn’t been but you want to start now), you can still do one this year even though you’re not all under the same roof. Have each household create their delicious masterpiece — you can even video chat together while doing it to feel connected. Then have everyone submit a picture of the final project to one designated person who will post the photos on their social media account (keeping each of the creators’ names a secret to make it fair) and have their friends vote on the best one. Winner takes all the pride — and maybe even a pool of money if you want to make it interesting!

4. Host a game night

If you need a good laugh, try a virtual game night.Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Spice up your Zoom calls with some fun and games. There are many ways you can play with friends and family virtually. Some physical games, like Uno or Pictionary, work well virtually. There are also websites and apps (like Jackbox and Houseparty) that allow you to play against friends on the computer.

5. Organize a Secret Santa exchange

Make someone's day with a sweet (and secret) gift.Jamie Grill / Getty Images

When you have a big group of people, a Secret Santa gift exchange can be helpful so you don’t have to buy a million different presents for everyone. Typically, it involves writing everyone’s name on individual pieces of paper, putting them in a bowl and having everyone draw a name to buy a present. But for the socially distant 2020 version, you can use a virtual tool, like drawnames.com, to have everyone pick a name. And after everyone receives their presents in the mail, you can host a virtual holiday party where the gifts are opened and the Secret Santas are ultimately revealed.