The holidays are going to look different this year.
That may be quite an understatement, but it’s undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic and recession have fundamentally changed how Americans live our lives. For many of us, it’s been more than eight months since we’ve been able to get together with family and friends. Sadly, given the uncontrolled surge of COVID-19 currently spreading across the country, many of us are unable to travel to visit our loved ones or get together with others outside our immediate households.
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t all enjoy good food, good company, and good family fun in 2020! While the endless Zoom calls and happy hours may have become a bit draining, there are plenty of virtual activities you can do to bridge the distance and make lasting memories.
Here are 9 virtual activities you can do with family and friends this year, no matter how far apart you are:
1. Food, glorious food!
What are the holidays really about if not eating excessive amounts of delicious food? To give your stay-at-home meal prep a fun and competitive twist, try a virtual Chopped Challenge! Coordinate which “mystery box ingredients” each household must use in their dish, or have non-cooking household members choose surprise items (bonus: this is a great way to use up things sitting in the back of your fridge). You can judge on factors like presentation and creativity, and watch the hosts of Chopped do the challenge themselves!
If your family is less competitive than mine, try an online cooking class together.
2. Board games galore!
Board games are, in my humble opinion, one of the best family activities there are! And thankfully, there are more and more online options available that can entertain any age group. Check out Jackbox for a plethora of family-friendly options, or Among Us, the mafia-style gaming sensation.
3. Thinking of you...
While we can’t be together in person this year, we can still feel close to our loved ones by sending holiday care packages -- or really, care packages at any time of year! Bake and decorate cookies or make crafts together via video chat and then drop your package in the mail to bring some holiday cheer.
4. The game is afoot!
Dust off your deerstalker hats and get ready to find out whodunnit with a virtual murder mystery party! You can find tons of games with different themes and for all different ages online that include all the materials ready-made for a night of mysterious fun.
5. “There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.”
For the artistically inclined, order some brushes and canvasses for each of your households and try a virtual paint & sip party! Many businesses have pre-made packages you can order so you don’t have to worry about what supplies you’ll need. You can always take it old school by doing a Bob Ross paint-along.
Like the idea of sipping but not so sure about the painting? Many wineries are offering virtual wine tastings, which are a fun spin on the typical Zoom happy hour!
6. And the winner is…
This one is especially good if you have lots of kids, or a particularly creative or goofy extended family. Set up your screens and host a virtual talent show, karaoke competition or costume contest. Pet costumes are 100% acceptable, and creative use of Zoom backgrounds is highly encouraged.
Vote for a winner, or just sit back and enjoy how incredibly talented your family is.
7. What is at-home trivia?
One of the most classic family reunion or team building activities, Jeopardy and other trivia games are perfect Zoom activities to spark some friendly competition and include family members from all generations.
If you’ve already been to a number of virtual trivia nights, try spicing things up by making a custom family trivia game. I did this for a virtual baby shower over the summer -- I sourced funny baby stories about each family member and everyone had a great time guessing who it was, reminiscing, and sharing even more stories.
8. Who tells your story?
Although sheltering at home can make us feel isolated from our loved ones, this can provide the perfect motivation to dive deeper in our relationships interviewing and preserving our loved ones’ stories. StoryCorps is a non-profit dedicated to preserving and sharing stories to “build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.” They have a set of resources to allow you to collect your own stories from friends, family and your community called StoryCorps DIY.
9. From the silver screen to the stream…
Finally, you can’t go wrong with a movie night. Pop some popcorn, and whatever your streaming service of choice, there’s a way for you to watch your favorite movies or TV shows in sync with family.
Did you try one of these activities, or have any suggestions for activities I missed? Send me an email or tweet @CALPIRG with your experience!