How will Santa know the wishes of children without having them sit on his lap at the local mall? How will moms teach their daughters their secret recipe for latkes? How will we express love and gratitude to our families and friends without being able to give overly-long-and-tight holiday hugs? This year, it seems there are more questions than answers as everyone struggles to find new ways to adjust in the “new normal”. While the holiday season may look different, here are some great ways to make it special and bring the traditional spirit of the holidays to life in 2020.
1. Get your Family Tech Ready-to-Go
We’ve already taken work and school online, so be sure your family is all set to bring the holidays online too!
- Make sure everyone is video-conference savvy. While the some family members might be digital natives, some may need a little more help! Try printing out these easy step-by-step instructions for the family video conference and mailing out to family members who are not as familiar with meeting online. Here is one option, or try this one. Plus, everyone likes getting real mail!
- Do a dry run a few days before the big event. Invite family members to practice logging in and getting the camera view aligned with their face (instead of the ceiling or floor…). Make sure the WiFi is working well, and be sure to have Skyroam available for back-up if internet is spotty.
- Schedule reminders for the family meeting. If you and your family members have smart speakers in your homes, you can easily set a reminder for your family video conference, so it announces to the house when it’s time to join. There are some helpful Amazon Alexa Tips, and tips for Google home devices.
2. Plan Ahead & Send Gifts in Advance
As we’ve all experienced in the past few months, shipping times and tracking updates can be unpredictable, and items are often out of stock due to popularity and usefulness in COVID times. To avoid any delays in receipt of your gifts, take advantage and shop (and ship) early! More Ecommerce brands and retailers are starting their holiday deals early to allow you to get ahead on your gift list.
- There are already a lot of great global gift guides available, including: NY Magazine (Travel focused), Washington Post, Esquire, The Telegraph UK, au, or Best Singapore.
- Check out gift wrapping options - it will save you lots of time and ultimately money if you can order a gift already wrapped instead of shipping to yourself first to wrap & resend. Here is a previous list of top online retailers that offer gift wrapping and costs. 2020 should be similar! Also be sure to check out the shipping calendar of your local mail services. They publish deadlines for when a package must be shipped to make it in time for the holidays. Here they are for FedEx, UPS, and DHL US or DHL global.
- Surprise your friends & family with a gift card from a business local to their home! You can research local businesses in any city in the world and reach out to the business owner directly via phone, email or WhatsApp to place an order for a digital gift card. Some local businesses will have the option on their website or Facebook page.
- Have a Secret Santa Party from afar! Elfster has been around for years and continues to be a top option to “draw” a name for Secret Santa. Buy online, include gift wrap, ship, and plan a time to open all together virtually!
3. Bring Your Traditions Online
Although most holiday family traditions have been passed down in person, this is the year to update and digitize!
- Scan paper-bound family recipes, share via email & cook the meal together virtually. Isn’t it time to retire that yellow-tinged cookbook and create an online version for posterity? There are great tools like the Cookbook App and the Family Cookbook Project that even offer state-of-the art tools to scan and upload in just a few steps. Then everyone can cook together via video conference and be able to “ask the expert chef” if anyone runs into a recipe rut. You can also try a (COVID-safe) cookie swap by baking your favorite cookies and mailing to a loved one or drop it off by their front door. Be sure to include the recipe if you’re willing to share your secret!
- You can still play games together even if you’re not in the same house – in fact, it might avoid the normal holiday kerfuffle amongst competitive cousins! Try apps like Quiplash or Sporcle for fun, multi-player games you play from your phone or cast onto your TV, including global holiday trivia. If you’re feeling very adventurous, try a virtual escape room!
- Watch together even though you’re apart with some great new shared-viewing apps. For movies, try Teleparty, and for sports, various streaming companies and cable companies are offering live group sports watching. Check out Verizon in the US, which is letting friends & family watch football together on their Yahoo! Sports app. And with 3 NFL games, there will be plenty of smack talk to go around!
- Do you normally get dressed up for the holidays or wear your worst “ugly” Christmas sweater? You can still break out your favorite duds for your holiday family video conference! Compete for the best outfit and show off online together.
4. Celebrate with your Inner Circle
If you’ve got zoom fatigue, try a small local gathering to help you enjoy the spirit of gratefulness in lieu of traveling to see family this year. Here are some fun ideas that you can try and still abide by COVID-19 safety guidelines.
- Will you have warm weather for the holidays? If so, try having an outdoor BBQ with holiday decor and lights to upgrade your typical BBQ to have a more festive feel. Rather than cooking & serving everything yourself, involve your guests in a potluck where each person has a designated food station or brings his recipe in individual containers for each guest.
- Brrrrr – celebrating in cold weather can still be fun! This might be the year to invest in an outdoor heating gadget like an outdoor fire pit or heat lamp so you can enjoy your outdoor space throughout the winter. Or skip the new appliances and just bundle up in your favorite parka and gloves, call a few neighbors, and gather outside to enjoy a warm winter cocktail kick-back. You can also take those drinks in to-go cups and coordinate a walk to visit the best holiday lights and decorations in your neighborhood. If you prefer to stay toasty with your seat heaters on, make a car parade following one another in cars to check out the best holiday decorations in your town!
5. Give Back Together
This year has been difficult for everyone, but some have faced more challenges than others. Consider giving back together with your loved ones!
- Work with family members to choose a charity that has personal meaning to you and supports a meaningful cause. Pool your donation together for an even bigger impact.
- Want to surprise your loved ones? Make a donation in the name of a friend or family member to a charity that has special significance to them. Your recipient will get an email confirming the donation, and you can choose to share the amount or keep it private.
- Join Skyroam as we give back to students in our backyard this Giving Tuesday! Skyroam is partnering with local organizations in the Bay Area of California including Edgewood Center for Children & Families, the San Mateo County Sherriff’s Office Activities League and the Francophone charter school of Oakland to donate Skyroam Solis hotspots to families with students who need reliable WiFi for virtual school and online activities. Share, like, or comment on our posts on Giving Tuesday or choose donation amounts at check-out to donate WiFi to the students with your purchase! Be sure to follow @myskyroam on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn to join in supporting our local community students.
Something Extra in case reality sets in…
In case you’ve already had too much family time or zoom calling this year, you might need a back-up plan to get off the call quickly. Check out these funny “connection breaking up” sounds you can play from YouTube here and here. And if your favorite Auntie starts trying to give dating advice or your father-in-law keeps reminding you how he walked uphill both ways in the snow to school, check out these ideas from Six Sisters’ Stuff and Brides for a few safe and fun topics you can always bring up to lighten the mood.