8 Virtual Christmas Activities to Do Throughout the Holiday Season
The 2021 holiday season will certainly look different this year, as do so many other aspects of our lives due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that celebrating in-person with only the members of your own household poses a low risk of COVID-19 transmission, and they recommend sticking to virtual when it comes to extended family and close friends. However, with a little bit of planning, we can create some beautiful new traditions for our families this year that can be intertwined with our usual traditions for years to come.
Creating some Christmas magic for you and your kiddos from the safety of your home is possible. This year we can really focus on being present in the moment with our families without all of the typical busyness of the holiday season.
More: 12 Days of Fun (and Cheap!) Christmas Activities for Kids and Families
If you did a virtual Thanksgiving, you can reuse some of those ideas, but if not, don’t fret. Here are eight virtual Christmas activities to do on Christmas Day and all season long to soak in that holiday cheer with our nearest and dearest.
1. Virtual Online Holiday Cooking Class
Taking a cooking class is something that the whole family can benefit from. Whether you take the class as a family if your kiddos are a little older, or watch your littles try tasting something new for the first time after you put your new skills to the test, you will definitely make memories. There are so many cooking class options available that fit with your family from cooking with kids, to foodie cooking classes and classes for adventurous eaters.
Now is also a great time to add to your meal prep repertoire or learn some knife skills to speed up the cooking process since many of us are using our kitchens much more than a typical December with quarantine. Involving your kids in preparing a meal together is a great way to get them excited about eating what you’re serving.
In an effort to prepare more healthy and delicious meals for my boys, I’ll be taking a virtual class with Elyse Kopecy who is the author of New York Times Best Selling Run Fast Eat Slow Cookbooks, which are my absolute favorites.
If you’re looking for a cookbook to get the kids excited about cooking, I recommend The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs.
2. Virtual Cookie Swap
Cookie swaps are a fun way to spend an evening with friends baking and sampling everyone’s tried and true cookie recipes. There is no reason that social distancing has to prevent sharing cookies with your local friends and family.
Whip up a few batches of your favorite recipe and divide them into pretty containers. Drop your freshly baked cookies off to your local family and friends. It’s extra fun if you can all get together through Zoom afterwards and enjoy your cookies together. Don’t forget to keep a batch for your family! After all cookies are delivered and devoured, you can share recipes by email so you can recreate your favorites at home with your family.
If you have some extra time at home, try an elevated version of your favorite classic. Last spring when I was meal prepping for the arrival of my son, I added a few batches of Ambitious Kitchen’s incredible The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies to my freezer. These will definitely be making an appearance for the holidays in our home.
3. Virtual Game Night
Part of the magic of the holidays comes from connection with those we love. Laughter is shown to improve our mood, which is something we could all use a bit of as 2021 winds down. Hosting a virtual game night to get the whole family engaged and connected is a great way to share those deep belly laughs with your loved ones. You can do this with your immediate family or get other friends and families together through Zoom.
You can purchase a Christmas Trivia Game or have each family come up with a few holiday trivia questions of their own. If your kiddos are a little older, consider a virtual holiday Escape Room. There are many ways to adapt your favorite games to play virtually.
4. Virtual 5K
For the active families, those wanting to get moving this winter or even those who have never run before, consider signing up for a virtual 5K to encourage some healthy competition, set some new goals and move our bodies. There are a number of fun themed events that are organized for you and often include a shirt, finishers medal or even a Santa hat like The Ugly Sweater Run or The Santa Hustle.
You can also pick a clever team name and challenge your friends and family to complete a 5K of your own choosing and compare times. Running or walking is a great way to get some fresh air and beat the winter blues. It can also help your littles let out some of that energy that comes along with so much time at home indoors. Signing up for a race doesn’t have to be a competitive event if that’s not your style, it can be all about enjoying the event and fresh air. After your race, make some hot apple cider or hot chocolate and relax.
5. Attend a Virtual Concert or Performance
Growing up in New York, one of my favorite activities around the holidays has always been to see a concert or a play and walk past the big Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. Luckily for us, many artists are getting creative this year and selling tickets to virtual concerts and productions.
This is a great way to bring some holiday music into your home while avoiding the crowds. Curl up on the couch with your family and some cozy blankets and tune in to a musical performance like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Ingrid Michaelson's Holiday Hop or New York City Ballet's The Nutcracker.
To enhance the experience, dim the lights and use just the soft twinkling light from your Christmas tree to light the room. You can purchase tickets online in advance and make your favorite “concession stand” snack to get your kids excited about this unique experience.
6. Virtual Gingerbread House Contest
Gather your extended family and friends through Zoom for a gingerbread house contest. Send out some festive invitations (on Amazon) in advance so that everyone can gather the ingredients and materials to participate. Whip up your favorite gingerbread recipe and cut walls and a roof by hand or using cookie cutters and let your kids pick out a variety of candies, sprinkles, icing and other sweets a day or two before the contest. Make sure you have some extra toppings on hand for hungry little hands.
If baking isn’t your style, graham crackers work great as a base. If you’re short on time you can purchase a Build it Yourself Kit with everything included. Connect through Zoom and admire everyone’s work as you build your gingerbread houses virtually side by side. At the end everyone can vote on their favorite final house.
7. Virtual Family Vacation
Since most of us are not able to travel to escape the winter cold this year, why not plan a virtual vacation? The perk to a virtual vacation is avoiding long lines, delays, airports, and flying with your littles. I for one, will not be sad to miss out on changing a leaky diaper in an airplane bathroom this year.
Plan your vacation a bit in advance. You can visit one city, country or site and learn about it as a family. I particularly like this virtual Machu Picchu visit. Pair that with a little education about the language, culture, and history of your virtual destination.
If you’re feeling extra creative you can make a dish customary to your destination. Another option is to visit a number of zoos or aquariums in one day. Many locations including the Bronx Zoo and Monterey Bay Aquarium have virtual tours and live webcams to get a glimpse at some exotic animals from the comfort of your own living room.
8. Virtual Christmas Morning Brunch and Gift Opening
If you are feeling sad that your loved ones won’t be present to watch the excitement of your little ones opening their gifts on Christmas Day, you are not alone. This year schedule a virtual Christmas morning brunch and gift opening to make sure that Grandma and Grandpa are there to see the looks of pure joy as your kiddos tear through the brightly colored wrapping paper and bows to uncover their treasures from Santa.
Once all the gifts have been opened, bring your computer over to the table and share a meal together virtually. We are planning to make a batch of gooey cinnamon rolls the night before our brunch and wear our matching Christmas Pajamas (here are our favorites from Amazon).
Though we have to be creative, we can still be close and present with our loved ones as we physically distance to keep everyone safe and healthy this holiday season.
Looking for more ideas? Check out 5 Ways Kids Can Stay Connected and Social While Social Distancing.
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Lauren Anderson is a new mom living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She has a busy career in health care, and in her free time loves to hike with her husband and son, Hudson, train for half marathons, and experiment with new recipes in her kitchen.