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Locked Down This Christmas? Go Online!

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly changed many aspects of our daily lives. Around the world, people have been subjected to varying degrees of lockdown – from venue closures and restaurant curfews to strict ‘stay at home’ policies. As the end of the year draws steadily closer, many people are turning their minds towards Christmas. But even for those lucky enough to have their loved ones close by, it’s still unclear how travel laws and social distancing measures will impact the festive season. So, the question is: how can we celebrate with our family and friends, when there are so many new restrictions in place? Hopefully, this article will give you some good ideas!


Virtual meetups

You may have read our article last month on communication technologies. As well as allowing people across the globe to keep in touch, these platforms can also be used to host a range of virtual competitions and meet-ups. For example, why not use Zoom to set up a virtual Christmas quiz, or else Google Hangouts to host a festive bake-off? And these are only a couple of examples – with a bit of imagination, the possibilities are endless.

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, do a quick search online. Remember, we’re all in the same boat, so lots of people are simultaneously racking their brains for fun things to do. Try reaching out to friends on Facebook, or else scroll through the various blog posts and articles that have already been designated to the subject.

You may find that a lot of your usual activities can be done without physical closeness. For example, if you usually organise a tree decorating contest, then what’s to stop you from hosting one via a group video call? Sing carols together, decorate gingerbread houses, and challenge each other to design funky e-cards or tell corny jokes. Adapt, get creative, and don’t let the pandemic keep you apart (at least, not mentally)!


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Livestream shows and services

Since the pandemic began, many establishments have had to change the way they operate. For example, theatres and music venues have been unable to host large audiences, and strict social distancing measures have been enforced on places of worship. However, despite this having obvious disadvantages, there have also been some positive outcomes. Organisations have adapted to their users’ changing needs, and we have seen innovative new ways of taking existing technology and maximising its potential.

Many religious services, as well as shows and musicals, can now be viewed online. This means they are more accessible than ever before. So, even if you are unable to attend your local church for Midnight Mass, or you cannot do your annual trip to the pantomime, you don’t have to miss out completely. In fact, you may find that you have even more options than usual, since you are no longer restricted by your physical location.

Instagram, Facebook Live and YouTube are all popular platforms that people use to livestream events, so keep your eye out for channels and profiles that may interest you. Alternatively, simply search online for things that may be of interest. You might just find yourself blown away by how much is now on offer!


Online events

Many in-person events have already been cancelled, and still more are following suit. So, if you were hoping to visit a Christmas market this year, or perhaps to attend a festive workshop, then it may be time to start looking around for alternatives. But don’t worry, because there are plenty to choose from. Indeed, the increased demand for virtual events has meant that we are now spoilt for choice.

There are numerous companies that offer virtual Christmas experiences, including NewWave Events, Mgn Events, and GOTO Events. For example, you could join a Christmas virtual murder mystery or a virtual cooking workshop. There are even virtual Christmas markets to explore, including Christmas Market 2020, which offers shopping, festive music and events, craft videos, and Christmas carols, all from the comfort of your own home!


Remote gaming

If you enjoy adding a competitive element to your social interactions, then why not challenge your friends to an online game? You can do this through various sites and apps. For example, Facebook Gaming allows you to play with or against over two billion platform users, including your contacts. It offers a number of classic games, including Space Invaders and Pac-Man, as well as various Christmassy ones.

Alternatively, you may prefer to use Houseparty, which allows users to play in-app games while talking to friends via video call. There are various to choose from, including ‘Chips and Guac’, ‘Heads Up’, and ‘Quick Draw’. You can also enjoy some trivia, which is always a great way to stir up some family rivalries and get your brain back in gear after some time off work!

Another popular platform is Jackbox Games, which has seen a huge surge in users since the pandemic began. Indeed, between the months of March and June this year, it had 110 million users – more than its total number for the whole of 2019. The games on this site were originally designed to be played in small groups around a screen, but the company has since put together a guide for people looking to play remotely. This guide can be applied to other gaming sites, too.

For more ideas, check out The Washington Post’s recent article on games you can play over Zoom.

Christmas is a time for togetherness. It may look a little different this year, depending on where you call home, but don’t forget that there are still plenty of ways to stay connected. And there are still events to take part in and activities to do, even if they don’t involve travelling further than your living room. Why not take this opportunity to try something new, and to see how others are celebrating across the world – after all, you’re only limited by your WiFi connection. The pandemic has taught us many things, and among them is our ability to adapt. Let’s pull together and start planning for a magical Christmas, whatever challenges we may face.

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