Products to Make Long-Distance Holiday Celebrations Easier

Video call on a laptop screen during Christmas


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Video call on a laptop screen during Christmas
Echo Show

For Catching Up

Amazon's Echo Show is a handy piece of technology with a high-definition, 10.1-inch screen that makes it easy to have high-quality video calls with family, making it (almost) feel like they're in the room with you. It even follows you if you move around the room. If the expected price tag of $250 is too high for multiple homes, the coronavirus lockdown has made sure we know plenty of ways to video conference — decide who's your most technologically adept family members and put them in charge of connecting the crowd.

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For an Advent Calendar Tradition

For an Advent Calendar Tradition

Advent calendars that count down to Christmas with a new daily treat can become a group activity if each family member has their own. A standard is the chocolate-filled advent calendar (Heshey's has one for $7, though connoisseurs may want to check out Godiva's $40 version), but there are plenty of options to engage participants of all ages and tastes. Uncommon Goods sells a 24 Days of Tea for $32 that could inspire a regular long-distance tea time. Man Crates offers a Jerky Advent Calendar for $80.

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unfinished wooden ornaments
Oriental Trading
family photo collage Christmas plaid apron
Beef Bourguignon in an Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

For a Shared Meal at Home

Is there a favorite casserole or pie your family enjoys each holiday season? Consider ordering it for family members around the country so the entire group, no matter where they are, shares the experience. Omaha Steaks will ship three slow cooker meals for $135, with options such as chicken and dumplings or beef bourguignon. Williams Sonoma offers Three Days of Entrees for $155 from the Elephants Delicatessen in Oregon — made-from-scratch dishes such as lasagna, meatloaf, and beef stroganoff. (A vegetarian option is $145.) If side dishes are what your family lives for, Goldbelly ships everything from sweet potato casserole to cornbread, as well as holiday pies.

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For a Virtual Picnic
Harry & David

For a Virtual Picnic

Depending where you live (and the weather), you can enjoy a virtual picnic with the help of shipped gift baskets — and if it's too chilly outside, consider an indoor picnic spread in the living room. Harry & David sells picnic baskets starting at $70 that includes a bottle of wine and plenty of snackables; BatchUSA offers a charcuterie kit for $149 that includes sweet and savory bites and an acacia wood and marble board that recipients can use long after the holidays. Once the basket or kit arrives, pick a date and time to set up the FaceTime, Zoom, or other technology and sample your gourmet treats together.

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Holiday Movie Night
Tero Vesalainen/istockphoto

For a Holiday Movie Night

Holiday gatherings almost always include settling in around the television to watch a seasonal classic or two. Even if you can't be in the same room, the tradition can continue through a watch party through Amazon, Teleparty (which includes Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and HBO), or other apps found online. Up to 100 people can participate, letting people chat so you can share comments while enjoying favorite flicks.

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Apples to Apples Junior

For Family Games

Hosting a game night with family and friends over Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or some other platform is another way to bridge the distance. Some of the family-friendly board game options that can be played with far-flung participants include Apples to Apples and Trivial Pursuit, which has specialty versions including a Family Edition and even a Harry Potter edition. Questions about rules for play if everyone is supposed to have the same copy of the game in front of them? Cool Mom Picks shows how to play eight games virtually, and plenty more advice can be found online. But don't forget Charades, which doesn't require any purchase at all and can be played easily over a video stream.

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family in santa claus hats looking at photo album in decorated room for christmas at home

For Making Family Memories

Use the holiday season to embark on a family journal or scrapbook project in which geographically scattered family members take turns writing a note or adding photos, then send it on to the next family member. Michaels sells a variety of scrapbook photo albums (starting around $16). You can also take the effort online, simplifying upload images for the scrapbook by using platforms such as Mixbook or Shutterfly (starting at around $33). 

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Couple holding glasses of champagne in front of Christmas tree. Toasting to each other. Evening or night.
Spread Cheer GG Final Slide