25 ideas for fun, socially distanced holidays

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The ultimate guide to festive activities and games for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and more!

Although the 2020 holiday season will be a socially distanced one, it can still be festive and memorable!

Yes, you read that correctly. Beloved Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s traditions may seem impossible nowadays, but let’s not throw in that festively decorated towel yet. 

If you love the holidays as much as I do (and perhaps started listening to Christmas music the second that Thanksgiving ended), I bet we’re asking ourselves the same questions. 

After spending an unprecedented amount of time inside, can the holidays still be fun this year? Is quality time with family and friends even possible at a distance? How do we adapt the most wonderful time of the year for life (still) in quarantine? 

Think about the core of what makes each holiday special: for many, it’s all about faith and tradition, and for all, the season celebrates family, love, and gratitude. If you ask me, a lockdown is no match for these things! We just need to get a little creative this year.

Check out these 25 fun ways to celebrate the winter holidays safely. Socially distanced Christmas? Check. Socially distanced Hanukkah? Yep! New Year's too. We’ve got every contingency Claus covered to ensure you have plenty of family fun (puns intended, and really just beginning). 

25 Fun Socially Distanced Holiday Activities

While planning your reindeer games, make sure to consult CDC, state, and local COVID-19 guidelines! 

iD Tech Winer Roblox Block Party 

The iD Holiday Block Party is free to play and easy to join; it’s open to kids aged 7-19. Our incredible team of gaming professionals have been working nonstop to create something really special: an immersive, virtual winter wonderland in Roblox!

While our game is free to join, players have the option to purchase VIP and Premium tickets which benefit the Lindsey Vonn Foundation and come with even more exclusive perks from iD Tech! The Lindsey Vonn Foundation is a nonprofit we love that provides scholarships and programming for education, sports, and enrichment programs to give future generations the tools they need to reach their goals and discover their grit within.

Holiday charades

Either with your family at home or with a big group over Zoom, give this classic party game a festive twist! Whether acting out The Grinch, a menorah, or a holiday tune, let your acting skills sleigh the competition and get the whole gang engaged. 

Here’s a handy guide to getting charades going on Zoom.

Family recipe holiday Top Chef/ Bake Off

There’s nothing like a sugar rush to invigorate chilly winter days. Plus, this is a great opportunity for some intergenerational bonding! 

Ask a relative or any culinary wiz you won’t be able to see in person this year for their most legendary holiday recipe, or dig into your family recipe archives to go even further back. Make sure to select a doable dish and of course only let the kids prepare under adult supervision! 

Then, on your marks, get set, bake/cook! Share the judging over FaceTime or Zoom with loved ones to make the results even sweeter. 

Secret snowflake gift exchange

This can be done locally with careful sanitation and socially-distanced drop offs or via snail mail. Send your family, friends, or coworkers a little something to lift their spirits. This year, I’m thinking gifts designed to make the recipient laugh at an inside joke or smile at your thoughtfulness are more necessary than ever! 

Family holiday story writing

This would be particularly special with young kids; they’re probably used to (and love) hearing holiday stories, so why not write their own?

Whether they’re recounting a favorite holiday memory, imagining something magical, or telling the tale of their favorite family decoration/heirloom, writing a family story is a fun, creative activity.

Plus, by going the extra mile to illustrate or publish your story, you’ll have a beautiful keepsake for years to come. 

Hot chocolate/cider bar

Marshmallows, spice, and everything nice; that’s what cozy winter evenings are made of. A delightful after-school or dessert surprise for kids (or mom & dad!), choose your favorite seasonal flavors and trimmings for a sweet treat. Incidentally, this would be the perfect prelude for the next activity idea! 

Star gazing in a winter wonderland

Maybe it’s my Colorado bias talking, but chilly December air gives the night sky a particular kind of magic. Plus, now is a once-in-800 years opportunity to see a "double planet"! Bundle up and pick a spot to learn about constellations, space, and our amazing universe. Here is a useful list of star gazing apps to step into astronomers’ shoes for the evening. 

Thank you notes for  first responders, teachers, and essential workers

As I said earlier, the holiday season is all about counting your blessings. More than ever, doctors, teachers, nurses, postmen, grocery store workers, and more should be at the top of everyone’s list! 

So, craft a holiday card to thank the amazing people who have persevered through immense challenges and selflessly kept us healthy, learning, and fed! 

Local light display tour

Research your area for holiday light displays, make a map, and hit the road! Throw on an epic holiday playlist in the car, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a (literally) merry and bright evening. 

Holiday scavenger hunt

I think it’s safe to say that now is a great time for a “family night in” remix. A holiday scavenger hunt could be just the thing. Perfect for Christmas Eve, a night of Hanukkah, or just because, kids will love solving riddles and hunting down clues! 

To get started, here is a list of scavenger hunt clues that can be tweaked for the holidays, and some Christmas and Hanukkah starter guides (or of course you can write your own)!

Zoom dreidel game

This wonderful Hanukkah game can still be played while social distancing! Let the good times roll. Before spinning, look no further than this step-by-step guide to putting a Zoom twist on this holiday staple.  

Themed board game night

Speaking of games, for a low-tech evening of family fun, check out these holiday-themed board games! From bingo to trivia to Elf Monopoly, there are plenty of options to choose from to inject a little competition into your celebrations. (If your family is like mine, any holiday would be incomplete without it.) 

Holiday Tik Tok dance challenge

Not a family of dancers? All the better! We could all use a laugh these days, so feel free to get silly with a dance battle challenge. Pick a holiday song (or anything that gets your groove on), and hit the (living room) dance floor. 

If your child pales like the Ghost of Christmas Past at the prospect of you hijacking their social media, simply record a video with a phone or camera and send it to friends/relatives and see if they can top it.

International holiday cooking night

Let food be your passport to new places and cultures this year. Traditional Christmas fare looks very different when journeying from Germany to Puerto Rico, and why not sample Hanukkah dishes from Poland or Morocco?  There are so many delicious Kwanzaa recipes to sample too. Make this holiday a legendary one for your family kitchen!  

New Year’s Eve firework displays

Fireworks are festivity in a box, and without NYE parties to look forward to this year, safely viewing a spectacular display is a perfect way to celebrate. Research displays that can be viewed from your car (or arrange your own, following all local laws and ordinances, of course!) and send 2020 out with a bang. 

Send holiday cards to COVID patients 

It’s been an incredibly hard year for thousands of families, and in the holiday spirit, extend some extra kindness and cheer to those who need it the most. UCLA Health and Covenant Health, among other hospitals, have set up safe, electronic ways to do this. 

Solve a festive-themed mystery

Curl up by the fire (even if it’s projected on your TV, like we do at home sometimes), and put on your detective caps! Then, imaginatively transport your family to a 1920’s New Year’s Eve party or a snowed-in English manor and get your sleuth on. MyMysteryParty has a number of fun themed games for all ages and is a great place to start. 

Virtual White Elephant

I had to research this personally to keep my husband’s family tradition alive this year! Yes, it can be done. Look no further than this guide to virtual White Elephant to make it happen. 

Holiday time capsule

10 years from now, you’ll be amazed at this family snapshot. Keep it light, holiday themed, or document the unique times we’re living in—it’s up to you. Here’s a DIY guide to get started and capture a wonderful memory. 

Holiday craft keepsake

Dreidels, Christmas ornaments, and hot chocolate mugs, oh my! Create a handmade keepsake using paint, pottery, and more to get creative this holiday season. Better still, send the finished product to someone you care about who will cherish it. 

STEM holiday activity

We would be remiss if we didn’t make this suggestion, because STEM rocks and absolutely is compatible with holiday fun! We’ll publish our customary list of the best of the best in the coming weeks, but if you’re dying to get started, check out these winter STEM project ideas

Virtual cookie/donut decorating party 

This is a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with friends and coworkers. Swap favorite recipes for Christmas cookies, Hanukkah donuts, or any other favorite seasonal dessert, and then hop on a video call to decorate them or just show off your finished products and chat. 

Holiday escape room challenge

Since many of us wish we could (actually) escape our homes, this is the next best thing. Engaging puzzles, mind-bending riddles, and confounding clues guarantee a think-outside-the box kind of evening. If you’ll pardon that expression, you may actually need a box kit to get started: here are some great resources

"Do you want to build a snowman?" photo contest 

I apologize in advance for getting that song stuck in your head. Challenge friends, family, and neighbors to an artful snowman contest. Agree on a prize for the winner, and send along your entries with a festive holiday message. If where you live is snow-challenged, try gingerbread houses instead. 

Holiday movie night

An excellent stand-by, and also the reason I still watch Home Alone every year; holiday movies brim with nostalgia for adults and joy for kids! Consult this list of the greatest Christmas movies of all time (or this ranking of Netflix’s current offerings), pop the popcorn, build a pillow fort (optional), and press play. 

Before watching, make sure the content is appropriate for the whole family.

Happy Holidays from iD Tech! 

For us, this holiday season is all about making memories. We sincerely hope this guide helps your family make some great ones this year! 

If you’re on the lookout for a gift that will help your child make amazing memories (and create something awesome!), check out our coding gift guide complete with online tutoring lessons and 12-week semester learning experiences. 

A photo of Virginia

Virginia started with iD Tech at the University of Denver in 2015 and has loved every minute since then! A former teacher by trade, she has a master's in education and loves working to embolden the next generation through STEM. Outside the office, you can usually find her reading a good book, struggling on a yoga mat, or exploring the Rocky Mountains.