Reclaiming Christmas: Ways to Make the Holidays Special in a Pandemic

In this episode:

This episode is packed with ideas for fun and creative things you can do with friends and family from a distance. If your pandemic holiday needs something a lot more interesting than a video chat, you'll want to check it out. Plus, an Advent resource from author Jane Rubietta, and a secret discount offer on one of my books hidden in the episode. It's a must-listen episode!

(Article contains affiliate links. This means that when you click a link and make a purchase, I might receive a small commission from that purchase.)

Inspired Life

Psst! I encourage you to listen to the audio on this episode. I have a special offer for one of my books hidden in the episode. It's like an Easter egg hunt . . . or a Christmas egg hunt. Listen on your favorite platform to discover how to get a great deal when you purchase Christmas gifts for friends and family!

We're about to get into some fantastic ideas for how we can do Christmas in new ways. But since this Christmas probably isn't like past years, it's important to first acknowledge what we have lost and how we feel about it. And then we need to figure out how to make the most of it. If we stay stuck in what we have lost and how we feel about it, we miss out on opportunities to find joy and blessing. Change can be good.

The other thing that I think is important to mention is a little bit of a lecture. Some of us are acting as if it isn’t fair that we won’t be together with our loved ones at the holidays. Let me remind you of how this has worked for many holidays for some families:

  • Military families often have an empty chair at the table because someone is stationed overseas.
  • Missionaries and expatriates spend almost every holiday away from extended family.
  • Some families are large and spread out.

So if this is the first Christmas in your life that you aren’t able to be with the people you usually are with, I encourage you to stretch a little and put yourself in the shoes of someone who is never home for Christmas. And then, find a way to support and encourage that person or family. Use your disappointment as a springboard to bless someone else. That’s repurposing Christmas!

Now, let’s move on to the ideas!

Life, Repurposed

Last week, we had Stephenie Hovland as a guest, and I asked her to share some ideas for ways that people can get creative. She said her family has a tradition of watching Elf every year, but one of her daughters now lives in California, so by using a watch part app, they can still do this. There are several ways to host a watch party. These are just a few of them:

  • This can be done with an app called Watch with Friends.  This can be installed on Apple TV, Roku, or Chrome.
  • Netflix does it via an extension called Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party) and everyone has to have a Netflix account. There’s a free Google Chrome extension that syncs the video for everyone and has a pause feature and a chat feature. (This means you’d need to use a computer to watch.)
  • Disney Plus has GroupWatch. If you all have Disney Plus, you can watch together.
  • Prime Video has a watch party feature too.

Each of these has pros and cons, but the point is that you can enjoy a movie together.

  • Stephenie Hovland said there are some phone games that can be played in the same room or virtually. She said the games were fun and had that feeling of “board game time.” There are other companies, but the one they used is Stephenie said, “Some were more competitive, but others had features where you had to work together.”
  • Annette Warsaw mentioned doing a virtual escape room. Our local escape room does have a virtual one that can be purchased. Or you can find them online. An article in Country Living Magazine gave a great list of options. Some are played on Zoom. There are also many of them for sale on Etsy if you search for “virtual escape room.”
  • My friend Jill Stanish sent me a link for virtual murder mystery games with Broadway Murder Mysteries.


  • Have a contest to see who can watch the most Christmas movies in one weekend. Make the prize a subscription to a movie channel or something fun.
  • Start a new tradition and have a virtual bake-off.
  • Purchase a gingerbread kit for each household and then build together while chatting over video. Post the final results on social media and let friends choose a winner.
  • Have a cookie decorating contest.
  • Have a snowman building contest. 

Things to do on a video chat together using Facetime, Facebook Messenger with a phone, iPad, a Facebook Portal, or Zoom.

  • Bake cookies or other goodies together.
  • Decorate Christmas cookies. Bake them together or ahead of time.
  • Play a game. Mattel has instructions for how to play virtual Uno.
  • Make music together.
  • Decorate the Christmas tree.
  • Read a book.
  • Have a coloring party.
  • Do a holiday lights drive through your neighborhood through the lens of your phone.
  • Have a recipe contest where each household comes up with their version of a dish. Then vote on whose was the most creative use of ingredients.
  • Host a virtual holiday happy hour.
  • Host a virtual talent show.
  • Have a virtual wine tasting.

Plan a meal and list all of the ingredients. Then order through a grocery store that either delivers or has pickup in the neighborhood of your loved one. Designate the name of the person who will be picking up the order, and then send them to get their surprise package. Things you could include:

  • All the fixings for a holiday meal.
  • Cookie baking staples.
  • Wine, cheese, and snacks

Photo and video fun:

  • Take pictures in matching PJs and photo edit everyone into one image.
  • Create a video greeting to go along with the gifts you mailed for family. That way, they will have them for whenever they open gifts if you can’t be live together.
  • Record yourself reading a Christmas story to the grandkids and mom and dad can project it on the TV.
  • Put together a digital photo album of Christmases past.
  • Have a photo contest. Here is a post with some fun ideas and a great example of a creative photo.

Other options with friends and family your community.

  • Have a s’mores party around the outdoor fire. Each person brings a blanket and a chair. Make up kits ahead of time with the marshmallows, chocolate, and crackers in a baggie. Arrange them in a bucket or something fun along with roasting sticks. Have hot cocoa in covered disposable cups.
  • Host an ice-skating party outdoors. Build a bonfire for keeping warm.
  • Schedule a snowshoe hike or an outdoor walk with friends.

I know there are many more ideas we could share, so be sure to hop on over to our Facebook community where we can chat more and share other ideas.

Recommended Resources

Let’s talk about a resource! This week, I’m featuring an Advent devotional by my author friend Jane Rubietta. Finding the Messiah: From Darkness to Dawn--the Birth of Our Savior thought it would be fun to have Jane record us a short audio message about her book, so listen to the audio to hear a greeting just for you!

From the back of the book:

Through artfully told daily devotions, Jane Rubietta leads readers along a twenty-eight-day journey into the heart of Advent, in search of the living Messiah. Reaching past the holiday veneer of tradition, pageantry, and glitz, she draws readers far into the spiritual depths of Christmas, where Christ can be born again into souls. This deeper approach to devotion is still accessible reading for just five to ten minutes a day.

Correlating Bible study resources are also available for free download online.
FREE downloadable Small Group Guide and Sermon Notes are also available!

Hop over to the books page on Jane's website to get a copy of Finding the Messiah.

Don't forget to listen to the audio to hear about a secret sale that I'm doing on Classic Marriage: Staying in Love as Your Odometer Climbs

I only shared it in the podcast recording, so you'll have to listen to the audio to learn what the special offer is!


(Please note: books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book. )

Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.

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This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Posted in Articles, Books & Resources, Podcast Episodes.