With everything going virtual this year, not even our most treasured holidays are spared. Just like Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving, most Christmas gatherings will be taking the online option for the first time this 2020. Don’t let this get you down, though. In the true spirit of the season, make Christmas 2020 just as filled with togetherness as in yuletides past—maybe even more so.
Thanks to the wonders of digital technology, online platforms across all media allow you to enjoy the well-loved elements and traditions of Christmas in the safety of your home—and even share them with loved ones across the city or miles away. Not to mention retail suppliers and vendors offer everything you need for the holidays via online shopping and delivery right to your doorstep, as well as to family and friends near and far. (*this post contains affiliate links)
So we couldn’t wait to share this roundup of sources and services for celebrating your first-ever virtual Christmas in a meaningful and memorable way. May it close this most challenging year with love, joy and good cheer!
MOVIES AND SHOWS TO WATCH
Love movies made for the holidays? Check out the amazing array of Christmas-themed films and holiday specials coming to you via your favorite online streaming services! There’s something for everyone—whether you plan to gather on a cozy couch for a family Holiday Movie Night, binge for an entire day on a Christmas Movie Marathon, or even schedule simultaneous viewing along with other households!
- Netflix Movies – Christmas 2020
- Lifetime – "It’s a Wonderful Lifetime" Christmas Movies Full Schedule
- Hallmark Channel – Christmas Movies
- Food Network – Holiday Central on TV
- BBC – Christmas Specials
HOLIDAY BOOKS TO READ WITH THE KIDS
Why not plan a: virtual Christmas storytime this year? Distancing can actually make this extra special by scheduling holiday storybook reading online with Nana, cousins, aunts and uncles, playmates and their families—maybe a few nights a week leading up to Christmas. Suggest a selection of holiday picture books each household can buy or can bring out from their treasured titles. Then, have one book read aloud each time for all to enjoy together virtually!
See our suggested titles of fascinating storybooks about holiday traditions from around the world, all available on Amazon.
- Katie’s London Christmas by James Mayhew
- The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie de Paola
- Oma and Me: A Christmas Story by Kevin Donovan
- A Very French Christmas: The Greatest French Holiday Stories of All Time
- A Very Russian Christmas: The Greatest Russian Holiday Stories of All Time
- The Tale of Baboushka: A Traditional Christmas Story
- Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Rydalker
- A Story Inspired by Sinterklaas by Kathy Dobson
CAROLS TO SING & LISTEN TO
"Here we come a-caroling!" You can certainly fill your home with the beloved melodies of Christmas, by tuning in to virtual holiday concerts like these fabulous ones we found. Take your pick from choral performances by famed choirs or solo concerts by singing superstars. Just click on the links to preview the programmes and to see which ones require e-tickets and which are free!
- The Christmas Revels 2020: A Virtual Celebration – from Revels.org
- Deck the Halls Christmas Carols – from Amazon
- Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir – from PBS
- Carol Service A free virtual carol concert – from Shelter, the National Campaign for Homeless People Limited
- Holiday Concert (part of 3-part Virtual Concert Series) – from Josh Groban
- Opening Up Our Hearts: Music and Inspiration of Christmas – from The Bach Choir of Bethlehem
VIRTUAL CHRISTMAS MARKETS & FAIRS TO TOUR
Thanks again to digital technology, you can go on virtual tours of some of the world’s most famous Christmas markets and fairs—without leaving your home! Go "global shopping" or choose from events showcasing a specific country’s holiday wares. Each link provides a guide for how to access and participate in your chosen event. Happy shopping!
- Christmas Market 2020
- Scandinavian Fest Virtual Online Market
- German Virtual Marketplace
- London Virtual Christmas Craft Fair
- Christkindlmarket Virtual Christmas Market 2020 Chicago
JUST FOR KIDS – VIRTUAL VISITS WITH SANTA
"Ho, ho, ho!" A meet-and-greet with that jolly gentleman from the North Pole just might be more believable for your kids this year. In place of those photo setups in malls and grocery stores, check out these offerings for virtual visits with Santa Claus. There are different types from pre-recorded videos to actual online chats, and the sign-up fees vary too. So visit the links and take your pick!
- Live Video Conversations with Santa – from Santa’s Club
- Macy’s Santaland
- Santa Claus Virtual Visits
- JingleRing: Virtual Visit with Santa
- E-Visit with Mr. Kringle
HOLIDAY FOOD TO ENJOY FOR A VIRTUAL CHRISTMAS
Just because you can’t gather face-to-face doesn’t mean you should skip the Christmas food, drinks and desserts! For a virtual celebration, you could opt to select recipes ahead and have everyone prepare them together online. Or you could agree on a menu to be ordered for delivery to each household, then enjoyed at a simultaneous online meal. Whatever you decide, here are suggestions from our own posts to make the selection scrumptious and the presentation holiday-perfect!
- Wine and Cheese Holiday Bar Cart
- Whimsical Christmas Food: Savory and Sweet Ideas
- 22 Eggnog Recipes: Cookies, Cake, Ice Cream and Beyond
- Bacon Appetizers: Scrumptious Ideas for Your Cocktail Hour
- Holiday Cocktails with a Chic, Modern Twist
- DIY Hot Cocoa Bar
CHRISTMAS BACKDROPS TO DISPLAY
How to make your home camera-ready for your virtual Christmas events? Well, luckily, only a certain area will most likely be visible. So you can survey the choices of mounting a vinyl or canvas holiday backdrop on a wall or stand, assembling a festive DIY display, or projecting a virtual Christmas background on screen. Presto! You’re ready for virtual holiday hosting!
- DIY Christmas Tree Party Backdrop – from Design Dazzle
- Virtual Christmas Backgrounds – from Hallmark Channel
- Christmas Backdrops and Photo Backgrounds – available on Amazon
HOMEMADE GIFTS TO MAKE FOR FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS, AND CO-WORKERS
Okay, not everything needs to go virtual this Christmas. You can certainly still give actual DIY gifts to those living nearby and those you work with. Think of practical, useful presents that are fun and festive, too. Look through these great gift ideas we found and come up with your own creative, Christmas-y ways to spread some real (not just virtual) cheer!
- Colorfully Wrapped Boxes filled with goodies – available at the Bellenza SHOP
- Mason Jar Gift Card + Candy Holder – from Something Turquoise
- Homemade Simmer Pot Kits – from The Pioneer Woman
- Reindeer Root Beer with printable tag – from Just Jonie
- DIY Clementine Wreaths – from Omiyage Blogs
- Christmas Gift Socks "Keeping the Mistle Toes Warm" – from Heavenly Homemakers
- Oven Mitt Christmas Stocking with free printable tag – from Yellow Bliss Road
WHAT TO WEAR TO A VIRTUAL PARTY
The party may be virtual, but it’s still a party. So ladies, you can choose to go glam in a glitzy cocktail dress, keep cozy in a Christmas sweater dress, or be casually chic in a cowl-neck pullover. While gentlemen, you can strike a dapper pose in a sport coat, look cool in a cable knit sweater, or go laid back in a plaid flannel shirt. Here are our picks to help you pull off whichever look you choose!
- Verseau Dress – from BHLDN
- John Varvatos Star USA Slim Fit Varick Textured Jersey Sport Coat – from Bloomingdales
- Snowflake Elk Print Christmas Mini Sweater Dress – from Cloth Fix
- Club Room Men’s Cable-Knit Sweater – from Macy’s
VIRTUAL GINGERBREAD HOUSE DECORATING WITH THE KIDS
Just like the online Christmas story time above, you can actually organize a virtual gingerbread house decorating party for your kids! Choose a ready-to-make kit, find a tutorial book, or bring out your own favorite recipe.Then, send out the needed ingredients and decorations ahead, and gather the kiddie decorators online for a fun gingerbread house-making session.
Here are some great product picks and blog posts to get you started.
- Gingerbread House Invitation – from Paperless Post
- Unassembled Mini Village Gingerbread Party Pack – from Wilton
- Gingerbread House Decorating Party Ideas – from Lake Champlain Chocolates
- Host the Best DIY Gingerbread House Decorating Party – from Avery
- The Gingerbread Book by Allen D. Bragdon – available on Amazon
CHRISTMAS PHONE WALLPAPERS
Even your mobile phone can get "dressed up" for the holidays. Simply take your pick of Christmas images you can upload as virtual screen backgrounds or wallpapers. There are literally hundreds of choices, ranging from classic photos to cool graphics and witty caricatures.
The links that follow contain full catalogs of Christmas phone wallpapers or a few original designs. Happy choosing!
- Christmas Phone Wallpaper – from Wallpaper Access
- Christmas Phone Wallpapers – from Wallpaper Sun
- Christmas Wallpaper for Your Phone – from The Keele Deal
- Christmas and Winter Wallpapers for Your Phone – from Design Inspiration
- Christmas Holiday Phone Wallpapers – from Doses of Grace
APPS TO PLAY on an APPLE DEVICE
Talk about going virtual this Christmas! Apple has certainly gotten into the spirit with an amazing array of apps. These include Christmas countdowns, Christmas photos, Christmas music, calls to Santa, Advent calendars, and different games for family fun.
Visit this link and enjoy an entire bundle of virtual holiday fun on your iPhone and iPad! Christmas Apps on the App Store
- Christmas countdowns (sample images above)
- Christmas photos
- Christmas music
- Calls to Santa
- Advent calendars
- Festive fun for the family
VIRTUAL GIFT EXCHANGE IDEAS FOR CHRISTMAS 2020
Now, we get to an exciting new shopping experience—choosing, buying and sending out Christmas presents entirely online! The recipients of your online gifts can be anywhere in the world and the virtual item, app or game will be digitally transmitted to them or can be redeemed at a designated partner vendor or establishment wherever they are.
So if you’re thinking of trying out a virtual gift exchange this Christmas, visit these online shop links and get some really cool ideas!
- Amazon Movies
- Geeky gifts – suggestions from Geek Girl Authority, includes Ancestry, Patreon, Kickstarter, Game Passes for PS4 and Xbox One
- Visa Gift Cards – available on Vanilla Gift
- Audible Gift Card – available on Amazon
- Apple Gift Cards – available on Apple.com with
access to products, accessories, apps, games, music, movies, TV shows, iCloud, and more.
- Charity Choice Donation Cards – from Charity Gift Certificates.org
Of course, we will all miss those real holiday hugs this year. But let’s make the most of these ways of sharing love and cheer virtually (and safely) to keep the Christmas spirit alive till we can gather for the holidays again!