For many of us, Christmas is all about time with family and friends. But that can be tricky when you’re separated by distance. Plus, when you throw in a global pandemic that limits travel, the Christmas get togethers need to get a bit creative. Don’t let distance come between you and your loved ones this year. These simple ideas can help everyone feel close together – even if they are miles apart.
Embrace technology to keep in touch
Ahh the wonders of digital technology. In some ways, having a smartphone a metre from us 24/7 is far from ideal, but we must admit, technology comes into its own with its ability to connect us to faraway loved ones. Regular video calling on Christmas Day can help you get a family reunion going. Use video calling to make everyone feel part of the special times such as the present opening, the family lunch, or simply relaxing after dinner while everyone reminisces about their favourite Christmas memories. A word of warning: make sure that everyone in the family is comfortable with the technology ahead of needing to connect – there’s no need to add last minute stress to an otherwise special moment.
Share the love (and the music)
If you’re one of those people that happens to think that Christmas Day isn’t complete without a soundtrack, why not spread the tunes far and wide by creating a playlist to get everybody into the holiday spirit? From rock to pop and a little bit of soul, here's some tracks to kickstart some inspiration: Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Bruce Springsteen, It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas – Michael Bublė, Merry Christmas Baby – Otis Redding, Last Christmas – Wham! and Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy – David Bowie. Create your playlist in Spotify, or even YouTube and then share the link with those that you know will enjoy getting the stereo cranking with you.
But don’t skip the old school pen and paper
E-cards are fun, and we love that they save paper, but heartfelt letters, postcards and even Christmas cards are mementos that are sure to be safely filed away and treasured forever. Why not make a custom family Christmas card with a favourite family photo? There are plenty of places to do this online, and we love Snapfish.co.nz as it provides a few different card designs and it’s so easy to use. If you have little ones in your life, why not encourage them to handmake and illustrate their own Christmas cards for friends and family? Better yet, make one card, print a few copies and then personalise your message for loved ones. The personal touch is sure to make faraway family smile. Whatever you decide, be sure to post them off early so they can be received in time to be displayed and enjoyed.
Keep up the old traditions and start new ones
Do you have any special traditions that you love? Food often springs to mind… Turkey or ham? Trifle or cake? Why not recreate that tradition to stay connected? It can feel comforting to know that you are enjoying the same meal, even if you aren’t together on the day.
Despite the distance, you can still share special moments from afar. Keeping up traditions with your loved ones can keep you feeling connected. Why not organise a family quiz over zoom? You could personalise it with facts about one another or dress up to make it extra special. We love the idea of scheduling a movie together (or better yet a movie marathon so you can each pick your favourites) and debriefing after. Like the idea of starting Christmas morning with some healthy movement before tucking into a feast? Us too. You could schedule a virtual yoga class together or go for a morning walk. One of you might end up taking part during Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas morning, but time zones don’t need to impact your ability to celebrate this special time together.
Show some gratitude
Christmas is a time to give and receive, so what better way to do that then express your gratitude for one another? Although you may not be together physically, you can still share your presence and carve out time for each other. Whether you start Christmas morning with a call to your loved ones to share why you appreciate them, or you include a special note in your Christmas cards, a thoughtful note of gratitude can go a long way and keep people feeling close even if you’re miles apart. Another way to show gratitude for each other is by volunteering or donating to your loved one's charity of choice. Small tokens of gratitude like these will keep you feeling close and connected.
Swap out the days and celebrate when it suits you
Even if your family aren’t all that far away and you’re blessed with plenty of extended family and different sets of grandparents, Christmas Day and Boxing Day visits can be complicated and, let’s be honest, nobody really wants to spend the day in the car. Don’t get too hung up on ‘the day’ itself. Instead, make it a few days of celebrations and catchups with loved ones, so encourage everyone to be understanding and flexible, and book out spots on your calendar ahead of time so nobody feels left out. After all, the most important thing is fitting in those that you want to spend time with.
One more thing. Do you have any singleton friends or know people whose family is overseas? This is one time of the year that most people don’t want to be alone, so do check in to see if they have Christmas plans. If not, they might just appreciate an invitation to join in your festivities.
For some gift ideas with a difference take a look at our Conscious Christmas Gift Guide.