Virtual Celebrations: Connecting with Friends and Family During the Holidays

Staying connected with friends, family and the community is imperative to healthy living for seniors. Social isolation can impact everyone, but seniors are particularly at risk due to their health, age, location, and a variety of other factors. Keeping up with your friends and family, even if you are not able to see them in person, has numerous mental and physical health benefits including improved memory and cognitive performance.

Read on for’s tips on connecting virtually this holiday season!

Download Video Conferencing Apps

While connecting over-the-phone is always an option, numerous video conferencing applications now exist to help friends and family connect in a way that feels more face-to-face. Skype, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, Zoom, Google Meet, Slack and more skyrocketed in use over the pandemic, and can be downloaded on a phone, computer, or tablet. Some companies may have step-by-step guides to downloading and using the software available online to help those who aren’t as tech-savvy.  

Mail Presents and Open Them Over Video

Just because you can’t gather everyone’s presents under the same tree, doesn’t mean you have to forego gift giving entirely if it’s a tradition that’s important to you. You can shop online or in local stores and have presents shipped to your friends and family across the province or country. Make sure to check out Canada Post’s holiday shipping guidelines to ensure it gets there on time.

To save money (and stamps!), you could also consider doing a Secret Santa gift exchange and have each individual in your social group send a present anonymously to only one person. When you gather to open all the gifts, everyone can take turns guessing who sent what.

Plan Virtual Activities

If you don’t want to do a gift exchange or want to virtually meet multiple times over the holidays, you could also plan numerous activities over video conferencing services to help stay connected. Having multiple fun activities planned might help with the fatigue sometimes associated with having a lot of virtual gatherings, since you get to try something new each time. You could even choose a different person to host different events over the season. A few suggestions of virtual activities might be:

Watch a Movie or Show Together: Several streaming services, including Amazon Prime, have enabled movies and television shows with features that allow people in different households to link their devices and watch movies at the same time. Even if there is no specific feature for this, you can still watch movies with friends and family at the same time if you have the same streaming service. If you have a public library card, try registering it on Kanopy for a free streaming service option.

Baking nights: Choose an easy recipe or two, print it out and make it together with friends and family while connecting over video chat.

Games and trivia: You can find holiday-related trivia online and take quizzes together with your friends and family to see who knows the most. You can also make your own trivia game online too using platforms like Kahoot.

Holiday crafts: Browse Pinterest for inspiration about making holiday-themed crafts like paintings, wreaths, macramé, and more, and create them while chatting over-the-phone or video. Make sure to take pictures and show everyone what you made after.

Whether you’re planning a virtual celebration or are thinking about planning some, we hope these tips help you carve out some time to connect with your friends and family this holiday season!


Bohn, Katie. “Socializing may improve older adults’ cognitive function in daily life.” Penn State. September 9, 2021.

“Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors.” Government of Canada. July 20, 2016.

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