7 Ways To Enjoy Family Quality Time Safely Via Video Chat This Holiday Season

Can’t be together "live" this year? There are some fun alternatives!

mom and daughter baking for Christmas getty

Everyone looks forward to quality time with family during the holidays.

But did you ever imagine that you'd be planning the festivities over Zoom this year? Yeah, me neither.

I have a big, close family — 24 of us spanning four generations. We managed to have a very condensed 90th birthday celebration this summer for my 90-year-old mom — a three-day getaway reduced to a socially-distanced afternoon.


But, like you, we’ve had to ditch our traditional holiday plans, and it’s pretty painful.

So, we’re getting creative and thinking of ways we can still get together virtually in meaningful ways that might work with your family, too.

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Here are 7 ways to safely enjoy quality time with family over Zoom this year.

1. Decorate together.

Even if you all usually do this separately, think about coordinating your tree decorating. You can even share stories about your favorite ornaments.

One upside is that you might not necessarily see everyone’s trees in "normal" times, but now that most of us have gotten pretty adept at video chatting, you can this year!

2. Create a Holiday story or movie hour.

Pick a favorite holiday book and assign parts — How The Grinch Stole Christmas is a perfect one for that! Or invite everyone to bring a short holiday poem or reading to share, like The Night Before Christmas.

You can also watch a beloved holiday movie while on Zoom together as a family, like It’s a Wonderful Life or Home Alone. It’s less interactive than group storytelling, but you can share thoughts in the chatbox to keep it lively.


3. Arrange a group bake-a-thon.

This is a great way to exchange your favorite holiday recipes — and if you’re organized enough, you can send samples to everyone!

Or maybe pick one fun baking activity that you can all do together, like making a gingerbread house and marvel at each other’s creations.

4. Research local holiday gift drives.

More than ever this year, you’ll find churches and charitable organizations collecting "wish lists" for families in need.

New York Cares is one example, but find out what’s available locally in your area. Invite your family to do the same.

Then, get everyone together for a gift-wrapping video call and you can all describe what you bought and for whom.


RELATED: How To Manage Your Kids’ Holiday Season Expectations This Year

5. Plan a holiday game night.

By now, you’ve probably had your share of virtual cocktail hours and birthday parties, and very likely with friends and family that you might not otherwise have been able to bring together in person.

So, how about organizing a game night? For example, a holiday-themed bingo, trivia game, or even a scavenger hunt. You can find a lot of downloadable party games online or invent some yourself.

6. Go caroling… remotely.

I’ve been participating in virtual rehearsals with my women’s chorus this fall, and I can tell you that there's a right way to sing together online and a wrong way.


The best approach is to assign one person as the "conductor," and everyone else should be on mute.

You’ll still get the benefit of singing your favorite holiday songs together, but without the choppiness of everyone’s voices competing with each other.

7. Open presents together.

Pick a time that works for everyone, either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. If you have a big family like mine, you might open gifts from your "family quarantine pod" first, then gather on Zoom to do your extended family gift-exchange.

If you celebrate Hannukah, you can also light your menorah candles together starting on December 10th.


There’s no question that the holidays this year will be different than anything we’ve ever experienced before.

But with a little planning and ingenuity, you can still create some special quality time with your family, thanks to the magic of video conferencing.

And years from now, you’ll look back and reminisce about those "crazy" virtual holiday gatherings we came up with, back in 2020!

RELATED: How To Survive Holidays With Family Holding Opposite Political Views

Deborah Roth is a Life & Relationship Coach and Interfaith Minister who founded Spirited Living™ to help guide spirited women and men through life’s big changes with joy and ease. Call Deborah today at 212-665-9660 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation, or email her at Deborah@SpiritedLiving.com