‘Tis the season for social distancing. With the pandemic worsening and states tightening public health guidelines, this holiday season has been markedly different. Still, that doesn’t mean that this Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or New Years has to be anything but inclusive and enjoyable. Here’s some tips to spread holiday cheer in safe, socially distanced ways.

Zoom Family Reunion and Games

This December, gather your relatives over the video conferencing application that has become the new norm for communication. It’s a great way to get the family together while being safe at home. To make your call feel even more festive,

Prepare to get creative with family and friends this holiday season. (Wikimedia Commons/Beaulieu Christmas Trees)

plan a meal together, have everyone show off their dishes and play  an online game together. Just make sure to reach out to your grandparents ahead of time to teach them how to connect.

Virtual Holiday Party

If friends are also spending the holidays away from home, set some time aside to schedule a video call to get in the holiday spirit. Ugly sweater parties or even a formal night over Zoom are attainable and entertaining ideas. Activities like gingerbread house decorating contests are incredibly easy to do virtually. You could play some online games, including “Among Us,” a game modeled after “Mafia” with an outer-space twist, and “Codenames,” a two-team word association game in which players guess certain words based on a clue given by another player. 

Secret Santa, Shipped

Just because you can’t exchange gifts in person doesn’t mean you can’t exchange gifts at all. Use a secret Santa generator to draw names virtually, create gift lists and ship gifts to your assigned recipient. You can all gather online and open packages together for a successful remote gift-giving experience. 


The best way to feel the holiday spirit is to decorate your living space. Whether with lights, a tree or DIY crafts, decorations can make any space feel more like home, reminiscent of holidays past. Simple changes like changing your desktop background or putting out blankets in festive colors are an affordable way to foster usual holiday cheer. 

Watch Holiday Movies

Between Hallmark and Netflix, this year has seen a massive wave of movies and TV shows for those who like predictable yet feel-good tales of love during the holidays. Even Hulu got in on the action with their recent release of the critically acclaimed movie “Happiest Season.” You can use the Chrome extension “Teleparty,” previously known as “Netflix Party,” to watch a movie with your friends through Netflix, Disney+, Hulu or HBO. Some recommendations are “Love Actually” or “The Holiday” if you’re looking for classics that everyone can enjoy, or try the Netflix film “Let It Snow” for a happy story about the intersecting lives of residents in a small midwestern town brought together by a party and a snowstorm.

Bake Holiday-Themed Treats

Another way to uplift spirits while also making the entire house smell deliciously sweet is to make mouthwatering holiday treats. Call up your relatives for a family recipe, follow a recipe online, make the same recipe as a friend over a video call or make up your own recipe. There are a huge array of recipes for different holiday treats, so whether you enjoy jelly doughnuts, rice krispie treats or classic sugar cookies, there is surely one to excite your taste buds. If you want to be really adventurous, follow along recipe features on the Great British Baking Show: Holidays edition. 

Create a Playlist

Blasting a holiday music playlist all of December, every December is another great habit to spread the holiday cheer. Songs from Pentatonix’s “That’s Christmas to Me” album and Bing Crosby’s “Auld Lang Syne” to your own playlist are sure to bring back old holiday memories. Merry holiday music can keep you in joyful spirits through the final days of finals season, and add cheery background music while you do other activities like decorating or baking. Making a collaborative playlist on Spotify is another project you and a friend can take up to feel connected through this holiday season.

Show Appreciation

As the year draws to a close, make sure that you let the people who have been there for you know how much you appreciate them. Send them a sincere letter or take advantage of holiday discounts to ship them a present.  Try a holiday-themed mask, a winter scarf or maybe even baked goods. This way, you’ll be able to express gratitude for their role in your life despite the distance. If you don’t want to write a letter, a FaceTime or heartfelt text could also get the message across. Don’t forget to treat yourself as well — you got through this year all in one piece. You deserve it.

Make New Year’s Resolutions

This year has definitely been tumultuous and heartbreaking. In the new year, however, we can take the lessons we learned in 2020 to give 2021 a monumental start. Whether it’s journaling, exercising more or reconnecting with friends, 2021 is the year to do everything you didn’t end up doing this past year. A tip for making sure you actually follow through on your resolutions: start doing them at the end of December rather than in January, so they can become a habit as soon as possible. Rest up, keep in touch with your loved ones and hang on to hope for a better 2021. 

While the holidays are usually spent together with loved ones, these activities are a semi-close substitute during such uncertain times. However you choose to spend the holidays, remember to wash your hands regularly and wear a mask around others.