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3 Steps for Planning a Fun Virtual Christmas

Most of us have never experienced a pandemic and have never been previously advised to practice social distancing as a critical method of protecting ourselves and our loved ones. During this time of the year, many of us would normally be planning to visit with family or friends for the duration of the holiday season.

Let’s face it, regardless of your age, race, sex, or nationality, social gatherings are a healthy part of our lives. But, with the CDC recommending for us to not gather with people outside of our core family, how can we safely and enjoyably do a Virtual Christmas Season? Here are the 3 steps:

1. Complete your online purchasing sooner than later. For an increased chance that your gifts will arrive on-time for Christmas, finish ordering and mailing by December 12, 2020. T-Shirts, hoodies, and blankets from places like I’m Poppin’ Tees and Hoodies, and OnlyYouTees are great universal gifts for family and friends of all ages and sizes. Sending prepared meals such as Daily Harvest, Veestro, Mosaic Foods, or Hello Fresh can also be a great idea. Local shops such as Farm-To-Family, Favour Cookie Company, and River City Market can supply you with vegetarian or vegan options.

2. Evaluate your normal routine. Normally, people are shopping, planning their parties (the ones they will host and the ones they will just attend), and finalizing the plans for their out-of-town trips. Due to the need to social distance, now is the time to plan how you and your friends can interact electronically. If you normally would spend two weeks on vacation, plan for two weeks of online interactions. Make sure you and all of your family and friends have access to Zoom, Google Meet, WebEx, WhatsApp, FaceTime (Apple only users), Duo (both Apple and Android users), or any other group-sharing video application that can facilitate this process.

3. Plan an interaction for each day of the normal social season, and follow these steps:

- Designate a family member (or two) to host a Zoom, WebEx (or other online platform) event. The host(s) should already be familiar with whichever platform that you are planning to use which will help minimize any holiday stressors. The host(s) will be responsible for sharing the link with all invited family and friends.

- Determine the period of time for the family and/or friends to gather. (This will determine the number of days to plan.) Your group might want to gather for 2 hours each day for three days leading up to, and including, the actual holiday. Or, your group might only want to plan an online session for one day. It’s your choice.

- Once the period of time is determined, identify your hierarchy of connections: close family, extended family, friends. This is similar to the planning required for a in-person event.

- Communicate with your hierarchy of connections letting them know that something will be planned for the virtual Christmas Season 2020. Ask how they would like to be involved. Some of the ideas for involvement can include: conducting an online fitness class; doing a How-To Cooking hour; playing games like Kahoot! or online Family Feud; designate a day and time to meet other family and friends of each family member via games, song/music or other; watching a Netflix, Amazon Prime Movies, HBO or ShowTime, movie simultaneously, and doing a movie review afterwards; learning a dance (hip hop, line dance or other); virtual house touring to show-off the family member’s latest additions or hobbies, etc. Make a list of the ideas and get committed leadership and involvement roles.

- Establish designated times for specific events and be sure to establish a downtime to just be alone or to just be with your closest family.

- You can determine the blocks of time that your connections will be active and let folks know that they can pop in-and-out of the connection at any time.

- Use passcodes and or the “waiting room” functions in Zoom to coordinate safe and private connections.

- Share the schedule of planned events so that everyone will know the expected appearance times. (Applications such as WhatsApp, Slack, Facebook Messenger, and regular Email makes family-wide document-sharing easy.)

Even though we should not share the same air space right now, we can still share our time and virtual space. Physical distancing doesn’t have to be social-distancing. So, perk-up, grab your contact list, and get to planning your BEST virtual holiday celebration EVER!

About Author: Monica Chambers, CPA, is an entrepreneur and philanthropist in the Richmond, Virginia area. She devotes her time to helping small business owners conquer their accounting responsibilities, while also studying and teaching Mindfulness and Positive Living tactics. Monica can be reached at and

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