Holiday Activities for Family and Friends Near and Far

With the holiday season now getting into full swing, many people are gathering online or virtually (or planning their gatherings). While this is fun, there can also be pressure for the holiday season and its gatherings to be extra fun and joyful. If you are looking for fun ways to engage with family and friends this season, we have some ideas! Before we get into the ideas, I want to mention that these are just suggestions. Every family is different and celebrates the holidays differently! However you choose to celebrate (on not), that is up to you. Also, I want to keep in mind that, although it may be easier to get together this year than it was in 2020, there are still challenges that might prevent people from gathering in person. So, there are both virtual and in person suggestions here!

Let’s start with some ideas for those who can get together in person!

  1. Have a chopped style cooking challenge. To do this, you need to split up into teams or compete individually. You need to assign each team (or person) a strange item they must use, although they can add whatever they want to it! It’s a great way to use up leftovers or random pantry items that end up leftover at the end of the year.
  2. Play the Dictionary Game. This is a favorite of my family and it is possible we made this up, but it only requires some pens or pencils and scraps of paper. To play, you gather a list of odd words (bonus points if they are holiday themed!). Read the word and give everyone a chance to guess (or make up) a definition for the word, which they write on a piece of paper. Then collect the papers, if anyone guesses the correct definition then put theirs to the side (they get a point for being correct). Read all the definitions and have people vote on which one they think is correct. Anyone who votes for the correct definition gets a point; the person who fools the most people also gets a point. For example, what does it mean to meggle? Find the answer and some strange Christmas words here!

For those meeting virtually, there are still fun options! Keep in mind that many online meeting platforms (like GoogleMeets, Zoom, Webex, and others) have free accounts you can use for your virtual get together if you don’t already have an account.

  1. Kahoot has fun games themed around the holidays and winter season! If you haven’t played before, you may need to practice with it to get the hang of how it works. Basically, you can set up a game (usually a trivia game of some kind) and people can participate from wherever they are using their phone.
  2. Have an online competition or showcase. If you family is super competitive like mine, you may or may not want to actually select a winner. But, you can still show off ugly sweaters, holiday jokes, talents, crafts, or anything else you could showcase online or via phone! If you make it a competition, you can select a judge (or panel of judges), or have everyone vote on whose was best!

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, we hope you have a fun holiday season and a happy and healthy new year! If you try any of our suggestions, leave us a comment and let us know how it went!

Safe Celebrations for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the start of the most wonderful time of the year – but this year it looks a bit different. 

Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends are always the best, but this year can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. Obviously, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household. If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, take steps to make your celebration safer.

Attending a Gathering

Make your celebration safer. In addition to following the steps that everyone can take to make Thanksgiving safer like washing hands properly, take these additional steps while attending a Thanksgiving gathering.

  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.
  • Wear a mask, and safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
  • Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as the kitchen.
  • Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils.

Hosting a Thanksgiving Gathering

If having guests to your home, be sure that people follow the steps that everyone can take to make Thanksgiving safer. Other steps you can take include:

  • Have a small outdoor meal with family and friends who live in your community.
  • Limit the number of guests.
  • Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
  • If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows and provide ventilation.
  • Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.
  • Have guests bring their own food and drink.
  • If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils.

Consider Other Thanksgiving Activities

  • Host a virtual Thanksgiving meal with friends and family who don’t live with you
    • Schedule a time to share a meal together virtually.
    • Have people share recipes and show their turkey, dressing, or other dishes they prepared.
  • Watch television and play games with people in your household
    • Watch Thanksgiving Day parades, sports, and movies at home.
    • Find a fun game to play.
  • Shopping
    • Shop online sales the day after Thanksgiving and the days leading up to the winter holidays.
    • Use contactless services for purchased items, like a curbside pick-up.
    • Shop in open-air markets staying 6 feet away from others.

Don’t forget to practice gratitude this Thanksgiving, especially if you and your family are healthy and well! 

Blog contributed by Morgan Page (’21), University of Maryland College of Arts and Humanities