Even something as simple as having a video chat over a hot chocolate can be really special
This will be a Christmas like no other and large family gatherings or friends’ nights out are simply not on the cards.
So what can you do to connect family and friends and create that festive feeling of togetherness?
Modern technology is a big help in connecting people but there are other more creative and meaningful ways to tap into the bonds that unite us and form part of our family identity.
Here are a few ideas, whether your family members are far away and not able to travel home, or are nearby but too numerous to safely come together.
You could surprise loved ones in advance by sending something quirky in the post that can be eaten on Christmas Day. This could be a taste of home such as Mum’s mince pies or a favourite local delicacy.
If you don’t want to post food, maybe you could share a family recipe. And if time zones and broadband speeds allow, you could all connect via Zoom, WhatsApp or Google Meets and chat as you bake. This is a lot more fun than trying to hold a more static conversation via video chat.
Even something as simple as arranging to have your group video chat over a cup of tea or Christmas hot chocolate can turn something ordinary into a special memory.
Live chats aren’t always going to be an option so a simple alternative would be to set up a 'Christmas 2020' group messaging chat where you can share your favourite memories of past Christmasses together as well as your family photos of this year’s festivities.
If the budget allows, you could get ‘clann’ t-shirts printed that all the different households could wear. You could use a family photo or something personal that is close to everyone’s hearts.
If you don’t fancy going for t-shirts you could get personalised coasters or placemats printed that will remind you all of each other as you enjoy Christmas dinner.
Watching classic Christmas movies is part of the ritual of Christmas for a lot of families. Maybe you could all watch your family’s favourite movie apart but at the same time via Netflix or other streaming services, keeping the conversation flowing through text, WhatsApp, Messenger etc.
Remember, an occasion like Christmas when everything is heightened could well be the time that it all falls apart for a loved one who has been struggling to hold everything together. Be sensitive to the fact that people might have ‘wobbles’ at various times throughout the day.
It is important to be positive but also to allow space for people to express their sadness and anxiety. Reassure them that even if you are not all together, they are in a safe space with loved ones where they can talk honestly and openly about what they are feeling.
Make sure to end the day’s connections on a positive note and thank each other for sharing part of their Christmas Day with you. It's hard to say goodbye but do try to leave each other smiling. It’s Christmas after all.