From virtual Santa to a full-blown craft-a-thon, these safe, fun, and socially distant Christmas activities are a surefire way to infuse a little magic into your holiday season.

By Melissa Mills
December 04, 2020
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We may all be counting down to 2021 and brighter, post-pandemic days ahead, but there's no reason we can't also enjoy the final days of 2020. The holiday season may be a bit out-of-the-norm this year, but after socially distant trick-or-treating and virtual Thanksgiving, Americans are pros at celebrating things a little differently to keep our families safe.

With coronavirus cases rising across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does recommend modifying holiday plans to avoid large crowds and traveling. That means many of the typical things you'd be planning before December 25—like a mall visit to sit on Santa's lap, a magical train ride to the North Pole, or a big holiday party with friends and family—are off the table since social distancing, mask-wearing, and hunkering down at home are still key.

virtual christmas
Credit: Getty Images

But fear not, staying safe does not mean canceling the holidays. These fun, virtual Christmas activities will have your whole family feeling festive in no time. Enjoy!

Virtual Christmas Ideas for 2020

1. Plan a holiday movie night

Get your popcorn ready, set up a video call with friends, and stream a holiday movie together for a picture-perfect virtual movie night. Whether it's A Christmas Story, Elf, or The Muppet Christmas Carol, make sure to throw on some holiday pajamas and you've really got it made.

2. Visit with virtual Santa

Courtesy of Melissa Mills
Credit: Courtesy of Melissa Mills

Your family's annual trip to the mall to visit with Santa Claus isn't recommended, and that's because it doesn't really allow for social distancing. Sure, some places are getting creative to keep your kid's Santa visit in person—placing a barrier between Santa and the children and even moving things outside—but you actually don't even have to leave your house to travel to the North Pole!

It's never been easier to meet with Santa. Online options to chat with the big man in red are popping up left and right, though my toddler and I are partial to the totally free and inclusive Macy’s Santaland at Home, where you're guided to Santa's Toy Shop by some friendly elves, get to enjoy a few festive games, and finish up your visit with a selfie with Santa.

3. Get crafty

Trust me, there's no shortage of family-friendly Christmas crafts to keep your little ones occupied all December long—especially on those extra cold days when going outside isn't really an option. To take things up a notch for 2020, plan a craft-a-thon with your child's cousins or friends. Pick out an age-appropriate craft or two for the kiddos to do, work on them at the same time on Zoom, and show off the masterpieces when everyone's finished.

4. Throw a virtual Christmas party

Big holiday get-togethers are discouraged amid the pandemic, but there's no reason you can't still get all dressed up (or not, you do you!) and celebrate with loved ones. Plan a specialty cocktail for the adults, stock up on hot cocoa for the kids, and turn on your favorite holiday tunes. You can keep the little ones occupied with a little cookie decorating—or, heck, just some plain ole cookie eating.

And don't forget to plan a virtual Secret Santa gift exchange before the big event so everyone can unwrap their gifts together!

5. Gear up for family game night

Gather everyone up on Zoom for a holiday-themed game night complete with prizes. Here are a few easy options:

  • Turn on your favorite Christmas music and play "name that tune" or have guests take turns singing the next verse of beloved classics
  • Plan a family trivia night with these Christmas trivia questions and answers and these 50 fun trivia questions for kids
  • Play a game of "Who Am I?" by writing holiday-themed characters on a sticky note, putting it on your forehead, and having guests give clues to help you guess who you got

Winner gets a special holiday treat!

6. Organize an ugly Christmas mask party

You've heard of ugly Christmas sweaters, but ugly Christmas masks are so 2020.

Gather up your art supplies—the more glitter the better, obviously—hop on a video call with your craftiest crew, and let the creativity flow. Plan on a fashion show when everyone's done. "Ugliest" mask can win a prize!

7. Give back safely

The holiday season isn't just for receiving—it's for giving. And with everything going virtual for 2020, it's never been easier to give back to families in need and teach your kids the importance of being charitable.

Not sure where to start? You can't go wrong by donating to a local food bank or larger organizations like Toys for Tots, Make-A-Wish, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, or Big Brothers Big Sisters. Your family can also participate in Operation Santa, where you can "adopt" a letter to Santa and buy a gift for a deserving child.

Whatever you decide, you and your children can help make someone else's holiday extra special—and that's really what Christmas is all about.