Give the Gift of Connecting

I’ve always looked forward to Christmas. As the years fly by, I think I’ve become even more aware of how time with loved ones is special and, well, fleeting. Even with all the challenges of the last two years, my goal is to choose to prioritize people and find a way to celebrate and connect.

Why write about connecting? Because, connecting with others is part of staying healthy. Those who have strong ties and connections to family and friends live longer than those who don’t. Your immune system is stronger, you have less stress (unless your family causes you stress!) and you feel more joy and happiness. Those who go it alone suffer more depression, anxiety, disease and sickness.

In honor of the holiday season, and a healthy mind and body, jump with me into this list. I hope you’re inspired to find a way to connect with loved ones, navigating around whatever barriers, and make memories together.

Gathering in person:

  • Spend all day in your PJs. Maybe find matching PJs (Don’t tell my family, I purchased matching PJs for the first time this year. Just because it’s fun!)
  • Make a fire and go through pictures and tell stories.
  • Watch a favorite Christmas movie or pick a new one.
  • Give a “gift of experience” that matches the person, like a spa day or tea with mom or winetasting with friends. (Especially since we’ve all been stuck in many ways the last two years, give someone something to look forward to in the new year.)
  • Save money and reduce stress by doing a gift exchange. For example, set a price limit and draw names.
  • Do a white elephant gift exchange.
  • Find time to kick back and do nothing. How about just reading books and watching a movie or two together? (Stress and being overwhelmed is already in our culture. Prioritize relaxation as part of your celebration.)
  • Make a new recipe together. (You’ll find lots of ideas on my Pinterest page.)
  • If it’s not totally freezing, enjoy each other and the outdoors. Walk through a community with Christmas lights. Meet for coffee. Look up an outdoor holiday bazaar.  
  • Find Christmas lights in your area, like Zoo Lights and Winter Wonderland in Portland.

Gathering digitally, if you just can’t meet in person:

  • Do a video call and eat breakfast or dinner together. (One friend shared with me that she has family living overseas, and for years, the grandparents and grandkids enjoyed holidays meals together, chatting and talking and eating together over Skype.)
  • Watch the same show over the phone together.
  • Have younger kids? Invite the grandparents to read a book over Facetime or Skype to the grandkids. You can even stretch it out by picking a chapter book and gathering once a week until the book is finished.
  • Have an iPhone? Use the iMovie video-making software to make a fun Christmas video to send to family. If there are several families involved, maybe each family makes a 30- to 60-second video and you watch the mini movies together online. Have popcorn on hand!
  • Go non-digital and handwrite a letter to a family member or friend. Here are two more writing ideas beyond the traditional Christmas card: talk about a favorite memory with that person (and explain why) or tell them thank you for a specific act of kindness (even if it was years ago).
  • Be inspired by the 12 Days of Christmas and mail 12 short notes to a friend or family member. Maybe the 12th day includes a gift card.
  • Get creative with gift wrapping and drop off or mail a gift. Everyone loves to receive a well-wrapped gift. It shows time invested in that person.

However you choose to spend your Christmas this year, I hope it’s full of love and connection!