How To Make Your Friends & Family Feel Loved This Holiday Season, Even If You’re Apart

If nothing else, this year has been a valuable exercise in practicing resourcefulness. Think: Last-minute work pivots, remote classrooms, Zoom birthday celebrations. And right now in particular, as we forge ahead into the holidays, that brand of creative adaptiveness will be more important than ever. 
Sure, plenty of us won’t find ourselves in the same room — or state — as our loved ones this season, but that doesn’t mean we should skip right over the holidays. It’s simply a testament to the fact that we need to find new ways of celebrating, even if that requires forgoing grandma’s famous stew.
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So, taking into account all the things that matter most during the holiday season — the food, the company, the traditions — we’ve spent some time culling together a guide to making the most of the coming months...remotely. From virtual movie marathons and socially-distanced gift exchanges, to Zoom toasts with Grand Marnier cocktails, these are the best ways to ensure that you don’t lose all the warmth and camaraderie the holidays provide — even from far away. 
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Set the mood at home

The holidays are full of sensory experience: Fresh pine needles, your grandmother's famous fill-in-the-blank side dish, the aroma of crackling flames in a hearth. Create a nostalgia-inducing environment wherever you are, either by slaving away in the kitchen over a traditional family recipe or, on the more low-maintenance end, by lighting a candle from Homesick. This fragrance company offers candles and diffusers that aim to capture the smells of your own home state (including international locales), as well as special festive options such as “Latkes and Lights” and “Nutcracker.”
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When gifting, go personal

It’s practically a science: Personalized gifts tug at the heartstrings — especially in a year that has been uniquely solitary for all of us. So this time around, either consider going the photo book/custom greeting card route (sites like Pinhole Press or Artifact Uprising are great for this) or frame something special with Framebridge (they specialize in framing items like old paybills, matchboxes, or pieces of clothing). 
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Share a toast

“Proposing a toast” is one of those holiday traditions that has blissfully withstood the test of time — and fortunately, it can be done just as easily via video chat. Make your gleeful "cheers" feel special by breaking out the fancy glassware, fixing yourself your favorite Grand Marnier cocktail (garnish and all) and raising a glass to those you love and all the future occasions you’ll be spending together. Then, go ahead and clink glasses — figuratively speaking, of course.
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Make time for FaceTime

We get it. You’re fed up with Zoom calls by now. But a little telecommunication feels different when the folks on the other end aren’t writing you a performance review (or you, theirs). To spend some quality time with loved ones even when far apart, try apps such as House Party to watch holiday movies together, FaceTime for family meals, or even Zoom to tune into specific events like holiday concerts or church services that you might normally attend together IRL. 
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Kickstart a new tradition

Save the caroling for next year and create a new tradition that you can carry on all year long. The options are limitless: a book exchange among your siblings, a recipe trade with college friends, a rotating journal. For the latter, try asking loved ones to take turns filling out the pages in a blank notebook, before shipping it off to another loved one in a rotating circle. To kickstart the tradition, fill the notebook with some creative prompts, like “share a go-to dessert recipe,” “tell us about the best concert you ever went to,” or “what small act of kindness are you most grateful for?”
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Throw a party-in-a-box

You can still create a party wherever you are (and whomever you’re with) with services like Social Studies. The recently launched company ships all the supplies you need for a special dinner party or holiday-themed celebration, including dinnerware, flatware, napkins, decor, and nameplates. From there you can prepare a meal or simply place an order from one of your favorite, local restaurants and — voila — the party’s come to you. When you’re done, wrap up the supplies and arrange a pickup. If you’re not interested in the service, curate your own party box by sending loved ones their favorite treats, celebration supplies, upbeat playlists, and favorite dishes. 
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