illustration of a virtual meeting

Even if you can’t travel, you can still have fun remotely with your friends and family.


With the number of COVID-19 cases rising across the country and many restrictions placed on traveling, Thanksgiving and the holiday season will look very different this year. But just because you can’t get together with your friends and family in person, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with them virtually!

Here are five safe ways to enjoy the holidays and connect with your loved ones at a distance.

1. Cooking Competition

If you usually cook with friends and family during the holidays, why not turn cooking into a competition this year? Set a date, a list of ingredients, and a few ground rules, then get to the kitchen and whip up a dish.

Check out this step-by-step guide from Whole Foods on how to host a virtual cooking competition.

2. Virtual Movie Night

Set up a virtual movie night with Netflix Party! This app allows participants to watch a movie at the same time, with a chat window to share your thoughts and jokes. It’s the perfect way to host a group movie event, all from the comfort of your own homes.

So grab your favorite snack and get started. A Netflix account is required for each participant.

3. Virtual Scavenger Hunt

This one takes a little prep work but can be great for all ages.

First, come up with a list of items (around 20) that your friends and family may have in their homes. Then, share the list with everyone over Zoom and set a timer for 15 minutes. Watch as everyone scrambles to find as many of the items as they can within the time limit. After the time runs out, everyone comes back to the Zoom meeting and can show what they’ve found. If you want to keep score, you can allot one point per item found.

Search “stay at home scavenger hunt ideas” on Google for items you can add to your scavenger hunt list.

4. Game Night (or Day!)

What’s better than a board game as a fun group activity? For larger groups, you can set up breakout rooms in Zoom to divide into teams and strategize separately. Make sure the game you choose can be played virtually and that rules are easy to learn for those who have not played before.

You can find free online versions of many games, including Scattegories, Codenames, Pictionary, and Conquer Club. Here are a few more game ideas:

  • Simon Says
    By choosing the gallery view in Zoom (option in the upper right corner), you can see all participants at the same time. Ask everyone to use their cameras, and play Simon Says just like you would if you were all in the same room. This is very silly, but also lots of fun.
  • Cards against Humanity: Family Edition
    As a gift to humanity during the pandemic, the Cards against Humanity makers decided to make a free, printable, family-friendly version of the famous card game available for bored families—or friends—everywhere. Download the PDF to use over Zoom.
  • Poetry Game
    A person who has a few books of poetry, or a compilation, is the leader of the game. The game leader reads the first line of a poem. Then, using the private chat function in Zoom, each participant sends the leader a guess or made-up version for the second line of the poem. The game leader compiles the answers and presents them back to the group along with the real answer. Using the Zoom poll function, everyone votes for what they think is the “real second line.” Points go to the writers for fooling people and those who got the real line.

5. Room Escapes

Although you can’t solve clues in person to escape an actual room, you can find similarly fun puzzles in online escape rooms. Get together with your friends on Zoom, share one person’s screen, and have everyone strategize together to find a way to escape. You can find options for free virtual escape room games through a simple Google search.

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