Virtual Holiday Ideas

How to Host a (Fun!) Virtual Family Holiday Gathering

By Ashley Martinez, MFN, RD, LD, NASM-CPT

During this unusual year, we’ve been forced to overcome so many obstacles. We’ve created new ways to connect and “gather.” With the holidays upon us, we may feel at a loss for how to incorporate tradition into special moments that happen from a distance. As most get-togethers will be virtual this year, our Kroger dietitians have compiled a number of engaging, memory-making ways to celebrate the holidays with your loved ones in different locations.

Mark your party on your family’s calendar ahead of time by sending out a Zoom link for the online gathering. Offer some suggestions for fun ways to spend the time together and ask family to brainstorm, too. Following are some ideas to get the party started.

Send out holiday kits

Kick the holiday off by sending each family member a pre-gathering goodies box. Customize them as big or small as you would like, and add a card with a message of gratitude. Taking the time to craft a thoughtful, personal message can really warm up the whole social distancing thing! Here a few ideas of what you can include in your kit:

  • A designed, printed menu (if your family is enjoying the same meals and recipes together)
  • Themed aprons, placemats, napkins or handmade nametags
  • Shelf-stable items for a DIY charcuterie board, including family favorites like Grandpa’s preferred jam and Mom’s beloved crackers

Gather in the kitchen

Isn’t it the case that everyone always ends up hanging out in the kitchen? There is nothing holding you back from doing it virtually. Maybe it just takes a little more planning and structure to get the fun flowing from afar. Here are some activities you can try:

  • Cocktail/mocktail hour
    • Using simple yet flavorful ingredients, make your cocktails and mocktails together as a family. Check out this DIY Mocktails video for some more inspiration. Be sure to send out a list of ingredients in the Zoom invite so everyone can order them or pick them up.
  • Cooking challenge
    • A little bit of competition is always healthy for the family, right? Give attendees 30 minutes to execute a recipe based on the ingredients they have in their pantry or follow the same recipe and judge accordingly. Be sure to name 2-3 judges prior to the start (potentially Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa) so a fair call is made!
  • Cooking class by Grandma
    • Does Grandma make the best pumpkin pie each year for Thanksgiving? Or a secret recipe that is only known to the legend herself? Have her reveal the recipe by breaking it down step by step through a virtual cooking class. This is the opportunity for Grandma to give you all the details of the recipe while sharing favorite memories she has had over the years making this delicacy.

Set up a scavenger hunt

Virtual scavenger hunts can be just as fun and goofy as they are in person! Here’s how you can pull it off:

  • Create a list of items that each household has to find in order to win the family champion title. Be sure to set a time limit for everyone to be back in front of the screen to go over their found objects. Whoever has the most is the winner.
  • Provide prizes such as gift cards or pantry staples to drive the effort.

Create a holiday playlist

Music has a way of making everything seem alright. It can motivate us to feel optimistic and have a positive perspective. Using Spotify or Apple music – or any service that offers the ability to customize a playlist – create a compilation specifically for your family and friends. Share it with them so they can listen to the same beats as you during the festivities of the day. Be thoughtful in the songs you add and include something for everyone. Virtual dance party, anyone?

When things feel unknown and a bit unusual, lean on your family and friends to help create a new normal together. Honor traditions and add new ones. Good food and good company (even if across the miles) are the keys to continuing to create warm memories this year.

Find more ideas for your holiday gatherings.