I have a confession: I love parties.
If you’re into the enneagram, I’m a Type 7, which basically means that FUN is one of my biggest goals in life. That may explain why getting myself to do the dishes is such a huge ordeal. Anyway…
I discovered this love for parties by the time I was about 6 years old. I was always looking for an excuse to get people together and have fun. I started by planning my own birthday parties, then it expanded to other holidays, then my little brother was born and I started planning HIS birthday parties. (Poor guy.)
My parents joked that every night at dinner when I was a kid, I’d say, “Okay. Let’s talk about the party.”
I even learned that my Grandma was also a party lover! Every year around Christmas, she would host an open house where she’d invite all their friends and neighbors to come celebrate with them. She would create a festive atmosphere and make an elaborate spread of food that tasted as amazing as it looked.
Now whether you’re a huge party fan or not, most of us like to get together with people we enjoy around the holiday season.
But this year, with so many restrictions and things changing by the day, it’s making things a little difficult.
But just because things may look a little different this year doesn’t mean we can’t still connect with the people we love and enjoy a great holiday.
So today I’m sharing 12 fun ways to celebrate Christmas VIRTUALLY with friends and family.
1. PLAN A TRAVELING DINNER
Who says you have to leave the house to have a traveling dinner?
Some people call this a “progressive dinner,” but the concept is the same. For a traditional traveling dinner, you’d pick 3 people’s houses and go to the first house for appetizers, the second for dinner and the 3rd for dessert. But you can do this without leaving the house!
VERSION 1: Do this with just your immediate family at home by setting up each phase of the meal in a separate room of your house. You can do appetizers in the kitchen, dinner in the dining room, and dessert in the living room with a fire going (or turn on a free YouTube video of a crackling fire like this one).
VERSION 2: Do this virtually with friends or relatives by having each party pick out a favorite type of food or holiday recipe and send it to each other. For example, you choose an appetizer and send the recipe to your friends. Another friend chooses the dinner and a 3rd one chooses dessert or a drink recipe.
Then each of you purchases their own supplies and makes the 3 recipes. Set a time and hop on a video call with each other and “eat” together virtually, giving each person a chance to share why they chose the recipe they did and what it means to them.
2. BECOME A SECRET SANTA or ADVENT ANGEL
Some time in early December, write down the names of family members (or friends) who want to participate. Then draw names for everyone and send them their “secret” person’s name without anyone else knowing.
As an “advent angel” or “secret santa,” you then secretly do things for that person throughout the whole holiday season. On Christmas morning (or whichever day you choose), you reveal who you had! You can even do the reveal in a creative way if you want!
3. LOOK AT CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
You can enjoy the beauty of Christmas lights without even getting out of the car! Have everyone (yes even Mom & Dad if you’re so bold) change into their PJ’s and go for a drive! You can bring your own hot cocoa & snacks or swing through Starbucks and “ooh” and “ahh” over beautiful Christmas light displays together as a family.
I even created a free printable with 25 Holiday-themed conversation starters you can use to get your family talking along the way! Don’t be afraid to stay out past bedtime for this one because breaking the rules for this special adventure is half the fun! Bonus idea: Get matching pj’s.
MAKE IT VIRTUAL: Take family with you! By doing a video call on your drive with Grandma & Grandpa (make sure the driver isn’t holding the phone), you can share the fun and show them the lights along the way!
4. DO A CHRISTMAS BLESSING & COMMUNION
My friend Karen told me about a special tradition in her Polish family that I adore. Her grandmother would ask all the family to be seated. Then, she would go around to each person, break off a piece of a large wafer (or you could use any type of cracker or bread) – like communion – and say a blessing over each person.
This is a powerful way to focus on the true meaning of Christmas by taking communion together and receiving a blessing from the matriarch (or patriarch) of the family.
The good news is, you can do this with just your immediate family or you could do it virtually with extended family.
Just have each family unit get their own communion supplies and then plan a video call together. Have one person lead communion, another person read Scripture, and another person pray a blessing. Whatever you want! Not sure what blessing to use? Try Numbers 6:24-26 from Scripture or make your own!
5. HOST A GAME NIGHT
This is a fun one to do just as a family or virtually with friends or extended family!
VERSION 1: If you want to do this just with your immediate family, have everyone get into their pajamas, then eat dinner together and spend the evening playing games! (Board games, card games, or some good old-fashioned charades are great options.)
OR you can keep it simple and do something like charades, where everyone writes down some words (Christmas movie titles or Christmas songs work well) and then you take turns acting them out and guessing over video.
6. Try a Virtual Christmas Shopping Trip
Okay, I know most of us are shopping online this Christmas, but did you know you can even do this with a friend? Hop on a zoom call and start shopping!
You can each be shopping on your own browser, then when you want to show each other something, just use the “Share Screen” button to let your friend see what you’re looking at! They can compliment your impeccable taste or stage a fashion intervention.
VARIATION: You can even do this as a gift! Host a virtual shopping date with a sibling, niece or nephew, grandchild or whomever! Let them choose a gift they love as you “shop” together (feel free to give them a budget amount), and then they can send you the link and you can purchase it!
7. Read Christmas books or the Christmas story
This is a fun one to do virtually, because it takes almost no planning, but it’s a great way to connect. This is especially fun to do with grandparents or aunts/uncles!
VERSION 1: Plan a video call and have Grandma or Grandpa choose a favorite Christmas book to read to your kids. Another great option is to read the Christmas story from Luke 2:1-20 together.
VERSION 2: You can do this with multiple family units! Have each family/person choose their favorite Christmas book to share. Each family takes a turn. On that turn, one person can read the story aloud while the rest of the family tries to act it out. The other parties on the call can watch and enjoy, then do the same on their turn.
8. Send a Christmas Eve Box
My friend Alyssa introduced me to the Christmas Eve box! You can do this just for your own kids or it makes a super fun gift!
Fill a box with a new pair of pajamas (Christmas themed or other), hot cocoa or a special treat, and a Christmas movie (or book) you can all watch together! You can either wrap up one big box for the whole family or one box for each child. It’s such a fun way to give an experience to your family!
This makes a really fun gift to send to someone you wish you could be with this holiday but can’t. Send a Christmas Eve Box with some fun goodies for them to open and enjoy even though you can’t be there! Bonus points if you hop on a video call to watch them “unbox” it!
9. Watch a Movie Together
Pick a favorite Christmas movie and watch it together virtually! There are a number of apps that will let you do this, from Netflix Watch Party to Disney Plus Party to YouTube Party and more.
Pop some popcorn, heat up some cocoa, and make an evening of it! You can laugh together at all the same lines, even if you’re not there in person.
10. START A SNOWBALL FIGHT
What kid doesn’t love a good snowball fight? (or adult, for that matter) My friend Katie and her family love to watch the movie Elf together, eat Elf cookies, and then surprise their kids with an indoor snowball fight! You can even pause the movie Elf at the snowball scene as you pelt your kids with snowballs! (Bonus parenting tip right there.)
You can buy a box of fake snowballs online OR grab some white copy paper and crumple them up into snowballs and use that!
This is also a fun one to do virtually! Have a box of snowballs shipped to a friend or family member and tell them to save the date for a virtual snowball fight. They can do theirs while you’re doing yours! If you’re brave, let your kids pelt the screen too.
11. DECORATE A GINGERBREAD HOUSE WITH FRIENDS
Whether you make your own from scratch or purchase a pre-made kit from the store, gingerbread houses are so much fun!
Each family who wants to participate can make or purchase a gingerbread kit, then hop on a video call and make them at the same time! You can even vote on the best ones at the end.
12. DO A VIRTUAL GIFT EXCHANGE
A great way to connect in the midst of all the craziness is to gather around the Christmas tree on Christmas eve and have each person (one at a time) open a gift.
The good news is you can do this virtually too!
This is also a great way to let grandparents, aunts, uncles or other family members participate. They can still enjoy the magic and wonder as they see your kids (or you) opening gifts.
Plan a Zoom or FaceTime gift exchange! You can have gifts shipped to each other ahead of time or drop them off if you’re local. If you’re not exchanging gifts, just let your kids open one of their gifts from you while family watches online.
Here’s the thing….you don’t have to be there in person to still connect with people and have fun this holiday season.
So even if it has to look a little different, I want to encourage you to choose even just one way to connect with some people you love in a creative way. It will do you both good.