By Jaimie Hutchison, MA, LPC
Deputy Director of the MSU WorkLife Office, Junior League of Lansing Sustainer
Virtual Holiday Movie Watching Party
Have a Zoom movie watching party. Invite watchers, they take a moment to catch up and then do the 3, 2, 1 countdown to hit play together. Could you imagine watching The Grinch, A Christmas Story, or It’s a Wonderful Life with several generations of your family members?
Put together a “happiness shock” for people in your lives. Happiness shocks can range from a mailed gift certificate to a bag of goodies dropped off at someone special’s home. You can do this for anyone. It is about the thought you put into it. I recently put one together for my mom which featured a bottle of wine, cheese, crackers, pie and a cute ceramic pumpkin. My mom loved it, and even though we are socially distancing, she knew I was thinking of her.
Zoom Crafts and Eats Parties
Create a craft or meal together. Each member shops for their own supplies and then they met via Zoom to complete the activity. You could create homemade holiday cards as a group or make a family recipe together, virtually.
Virtual Attendance for Religious or Community Events
Virtually attend a religious or community event that you used to go to in person. Gather to discuss the event over the phone, over zoom or via chat. This is a great example of how to keep traditions even if they are done differently. Connecting with others and keeping traditions gives us a feeling of some normalcy during these unprecedented times.
Have a Concert Watch Party
Do you go see the Nutcracker each holiday season, or take in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra? Find a video that you can share with family and connect. You may not be in the same space, but you can share the experience and connect regarding your most memorable moments.
Tech Support for Connection
You might consider reaching out to those who do not have tech skills to see if you can help advance the tech skills that can be used to keep people connected. The simplest things like creating accounts and passwords can be roadblocks for some. For many reasons, some people may not have the tech to connect virtually, or they may not have the skills. Let’s write handwritten notes, text photos, and connect via the telephone. When roadblocks stand in our way, let’s find a way around them.
Video Tour of Your Holiday Decor
Take a short video of your holiday décor and share it with friends and family. You could invite others to share with you as well. This is a fun way to stay connected.
Take the initiative to invite others for a regularly scheduled Zoom call. You can catch up, see the faces of your loved ones and have something to look forward to. You can make it fun by having happy hour, dressing up in a theme, or even playing a game.
Build a Bigger Table?
Maybe you are not a builder, but you have some card tables that you can use. Maybe you can socially distance in a way that people can still be together. If it is not too cold and you have a small group that you bubble together with, consider an outside gathering. However you celebrate, I hope it fills your soul. We could all use some of that right about now.
Cookie decorating kits: Drop off some sugar cookies, cut out cookies, or even pre-made tubes of sugar cookie dough, sprinkles, and frosting to a neighbor or friend. It could be a fun activity for any age!
Deliveries of food, pies, etc.: Drop off homemade meals or pie, or bring a care package of ingredients for a meal. You can also use food delivery services (Grubhub, etc.) for those relatives who are far away or order from a restaurant who does delivery, like Panera. If they live in an area without food delivery, you could consider ordering a meal from a national chain like Omaha Steaks or Schwan’s. You could also send a gift card for a local restaurant.
Holiday scavenger hunt: Set up a scavenger hunt that leads to a gift or a prize. This could be a fun way to engage younger members of your household or quarantine bubble that could be fun and exciting.
Phone calls: Never underestimate the power of a scheduled or check in phone call. Text messages are also a way to check in and let others know you are thinking of them. Send a photo of yourself or your family to loved ones that may miss seeing your smiling face(s).
Handwritten letters or cards: Take a moment to write a letter or send a card to the people in your life. Getting something in the mail aside from bills or junk mail can spark a smile.
Virtual book club: Book clubs, ranging in purpose from learning to entertainment through connecting and sharing can be a great reason to connect. Book clubs can include people of any age and nearly any topic.
Holiday lights caravan: Do you have family or friends nearby? Socially distance by going on a holiday lights tour together, in your own vehicles. Chat on speakerphone about your favorites or join a Zoom call after the trip to discuss! Are you miles apart from your family and friends? Each of you could take photos or short videos of your favorite holiday lights and gather on Zoom to share them, or even email a group your favorites.