The busy holiday season is sometimes more stressful than joyful. And this holiday season will be a strange one, with social distancing necessary. Holiday traditions will look very different as people spend more time apart and less time connecting in conventional ways. With all of the health precautions a global pandemic creates, What holiday activities for kids and teens can young people participate in to stay connected during the holiday season?
Only Physically Apart
When they lose physical access to extended family, friends, teachers, coaches, religious leaders, and more, it can be easy for teens stop connecting with others. While many institutions and individuals have worked hard to maintain these connections, it may seem easier to self-soothe with social media, television, and video games than it is to make an effort to reach out to others and connect.
However, the truth is that isolation is only physical. Every human being can reach out emotionally, mentally, and spiritually to other humans and remain connected even when physically apart. During this holiday season in particular, it will be more important than ever before to remind teens of this.
Connecting to Self
Stress and grief can catalyze behaviors such as overeating, self-medicating with alcohol or other substances, binging on various forms of entertainment online, oversleeping, or many other activities that often carry negative consequences. Alternatively, teens can choose behaviors and activities that help them stay connected with themselves, including:
- Journaling, which is proven to support mental health
- Exercising regularly
- Engaging in hobbies and activities of interest daily
- Doing yoga poses that help with anxiety
- Engaging in creative expression, such as art or music
- Learning and practicing life skills, such as organization habits.
By focusing on productive and nurturing activities, teens will find they feel a greater connection to their own desires and interests, and to a sense of purpose and meaning.
Connecting with Others
Despite being mainly at home, teens can use technology to stay connected with loved ones during the holiday season. Along with group hangouts, a one-on-one FaceTime or old-fashioned phone call can help teens connect more deeply with the other person.
Moreover, teens can use social media to inspire each other to be of service. They can host virtual watch parties and game nights. How about starting a group chat focused on daily gratitude lists? Connecting with others is important for teens during this special time of the year.
7 Virtual Holiday Activities for Kids and Teens
Challenging times create adversity, and adversity can help spawn creativity. Here are a few fun holiday activities for kids and teens to stay connected during the holidays:
- 12 Days of Texting: For 12 days, text a holiday greeting or gratitude to someone, either the same person or different people each day.
- Recipe Exchange: Instead of just sending a recipe, host a Zoom meeting and demonstrate how to prepare the food. Participants can cook along or just watch and socialize. This can be done weekly, with a new person and recipe each week.
- Holiday Drive-in Movie: Families and friends with access to large screens and projectors can host a socially distanced drive-in movie and share beloved holiday movies from the safety of their cars.
- #SpiritOfChristmas: Issue a challenge for friends or family to find uplifting and inspiring stories to post or repost to social media using this hashtag.
- Ugly Sweater Party: Everyone wears their favorite holiday ugly sweater to a Google Hangout. Activities can include online scavenger hunts with holiday themes, making crafts or food together, and more.
- Send a Hug: Family members can trace each other’s outstretched arms on rolled paper (such as the back side of wrapping paper) or sheets of printer paper taped together, then cut out their “hug.” Write a message or a letter on the hug, fold it accordion-style, then place it in an envelope and send a hug to a loved one whose hugs are missed.
- Hanukkah Nights: In addition to sharing rituals virtually, including lighting the menorah or spinning the dreidel online with family and friends, virtual gifts can be shared each night via social media, text, or another form of communication. Teens can offer to read with someone over the phone, share a talent via FaceTime, give a virtual tour of their neighborhood, and more.
By being proactive and staying connected with themselves and their loved ones, teens can enjoy new holiday traditions and make the most of a “new normal” this holiday season. Physical distance does not have to prevent social and emotional connections between family and friends.
Likewise, the holidays do not need to be dreary or dull without the ability to celebrate in traditional ways. Teens can reach out to others, offer goodwill and service in virtual forms, and share good times and make new memories. Despite social distancing, their connections can survive and even thrive this holiday season.