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5 unique ways to stay connected during a holiday season like no other

Sick of Zoom happy hours? Try these creative ideas to celebrate with friends and family.

As coronavirus cases surge, gathering with family and friends this holiday season will continue to be a challenge.

“We have to come to grips with the fact that this holiday season won’t be what it usually is,” said Laurie Santos, psychology professor at Yale University and host of the Happiness Lab podcast.

That said, with fewer holiday gatherings to attend and much more time to spare, think of this holiday season as an opportunity to recharge, get creative and make thoughtful gestures to your loved ones. “When it comes to connecting, you have to put in the work to make it meaningful, but this can really lift someone’s spirits,” said Santos.

Below are some unique ways to stay connected with family and friends this holiday season.

1. Send some love in a box


Send a box of love with Boombox Gifts. Founded by Christina Geist, the company provides a beautiful memory box filled with messages and photos, gathered digitally by family and friends who may be scattered across the globe this holiday season.

To start, you’ll choose a box, which range in color from Walnut Burl to Sweet Green, or classics like gold and silver. Your project will come with a private webpage where you can invite friends and family to collaborate through email invites or by sharing a hyperlink over text message.

Team Boombox then collects all the messages and photos and creates custom designs and prints them onto premium 5x7 cards.

Prices range from $75 for a Digital Boom, which is delivered electronically for a slideshow experience on any device, or $295 to $360 for a Deluxe Boombox that’s filled with 50 to 150 custom designed and printed cards.

2. Deliver a party

Kiki Kit

Partner with Kiki Kit to deliver a party box that appeals to each of the five senses. The company’s line of limited-edition holiday kits are filled with items from candles and home décor to craft beer books.

Holiday kits range from around $100 to $175. Guests can also log on to share the same holiday party experience, feeling almost as though they are together in the same physical location.

3. Purchase a frame with real-time photo updates

Skylight Frame

If sending a steady stream of photos will brighten a loved one’s day, look no further than the Skylight Frame. Simply plug in the frame, connect it to WiFi and set up a unique Skylight email address. Share that email with your family, and everyone can send photos—which will automatically upload to the touch-screen digital frame, $159—at any time.

4. Get personal

Personalized items can go a long way this holiday season—and gift givers are getting more creative than in years past. Consider OREOiOd, which lets you order customized Oreos with a favorite picture or sports team on them—or simply filled with a favorite colored cream.

Monogrammed and homemade items with a special touch are also sure to be a big hit this year and will show that someone special that you are thinking of him or her.

5. Be charitable

Charitable donations are always great, but in especially hard times like now, they’re especially meaningful. Consider donating to a specific cause in honor of a recipient’s own life experiences or passions and offer a handwritten note to your recipient to go along with your donation.