Joyce Wilson, Author
Instead of gathering for large Thanksgiving dinners or around the Christmas tree, many people will be celebrating the holidays apart from their loved ones. This is a particularly troublesome fact for a divorced parent who isn’t able to be with their child. While these stressful times can be challenging, you can still enjoy the holidays together as a family — virtually. With a little creativity, you may even start new traditions.
Zoom Holiday Celebrations
Use Zoom or another video conferencing software to host your family virtually. With all the remote learning that’s taken place in the recent past as school doors remained shut, your kids are likely already familiar with the technology; you can open up your home via video, so for those children spending time at the other parent’s house, make the remote time fun. Everyone can prepare their own meals, like a cooking show. Use the same recipes if you really want to enjoy the staples like pumpkin pie together. Plan to keep it shorter than an in-person meal —
Two hours online seems to be a good goal. Take advantage of breakout rooms so everyone really gets some quality time with each other.
Make sure you have the right tech and equipment for video conferencing. If your laptop or tablet won’t run the software, it’s probably time for an upgrade. Take advantage of online deals and discounts on popular laptops, tablets, and smartphones from leading manufacturers — especially helpful if you are budget-conscious after spending on gifts.
Safe Travel Tips
For those who can travel to small holiday gatherings, there are ways to be smart and safe about it. If you can, drive. Air travel is still a hotspot for the spread of COVID-19 and driving eliminates that level of exposure. Instead of staying with relatives, book a rental so you have the whole place to yourself. If you stay in a hotel, consider bringing your own travel mattress for the kids.
Wearing a mask in public can reduce your risk of COVID-19, the flu, colds, and an array of other common winter illnesses. That, combined with washing your hands frequently, can ease your mind of all health risks as you travel.
It’s important to be mindful and centered “in the moment” during this time, so be intentional about not letting work interfere with your holidays. ZenBusiness advises leaving work behind at the office, where it belongs, so you can focus on those you’re spending time with, if even virtually. This will help reduce any work-related stress that may otherwise creep into your personal life.
Virtual Secret Santa
Many holiday traditions just don’t feel the same at a distance. But this doesn’t mean you can’t make them happen in some way. Keep Secret Santa alive and have the gifts delivered directly to their home. Use Cyber Monday deals and online coupons to save on gift items and shipping costs.
Opening gifts on Zoom or using Facetime can really be a lot of fun, but for more personal interactions, drop a package off on their front porch and watch them open it from a safe distance. Other holiday traditions can be virtual, too, like singing carols, popping Christmas crackers, and decorating cookies.
Family Gaming Night
Bring your family together with a virtual gaming night. There are several fun games you can play from classic card games to Jackbox Party Pack to roleplay games. You’ll need to find the best platform for how many people you want to host for your game night. PC Mag notes that there are some platforms that can support up to 100 people. You’ll need to make sure that your internet can support gaming, though. Once your family and friends are able to meet up for
virtual gaming, you might find that you spend even more time with loved ones.
While the beauty of video conferencing means seeing someone’s facial expressions, you can still miss things about each other’s lives. Bring that closeness back by writing your loved ones holiday letters and sending cards. Being able to stay up-to-date on each other’s lives all the time through social media has contributed to the decline of holiday card sending. Quarantine is the perfect time to revive this tradition.
The holidays this year may be worlds apart from past holidays, but that doesn’t mean holiday spirit needs to dwindle. Use online solutions or travel safely — it’s the thought that counts either way.
Kids Need Both is an integrated resource hub that focuses on Education, Empowerment, Development and Prosperity, through mediation, training, coaching and media. Our training is accessible to both parents and professionals, to empower themselves and others going through divorce. Reach out today!