That’s So 2020: 7 Ideas for Socially Distanced Holidays

Socially Distanced Holidays
Photo: Christopher Ryan on Unsplash

A socially distanced holiday is still a holiday in my book.

From what we’ve seen in our neighborhoods and in our social media feeds, there is no lack of holiday cheer this year. 2020 seems to have set a record with early holiday decorating and next-level holiday lights that Clark W. Griswold would be proud of. Maybe this level of extra helps soothe the sting of cancelled plans and a year that most of us can agree to call generally sucky. 

If you’re not comfortable with parties or large family gatherings or if the area you live in is under any type of restrictions on those things, we’ve come up with a few creative solutions to safely celebrate and be merry with friends and family with these seven ideas for socially distant holidays.

Related: Holiday Road Trips: Why Fly When You Can Drive?

1. Take it Outside

If you’re in a milder weather climate, consider having your entire holiday meal outdoors. 

Too chilly to eat outdoors? Consider mulled wine or hot chocolate around a fire pit. If you keep your gathering small, you can easily set your chairs up in a way that observes the six-feet rule. Have plenty of logs on hand to keep that fire stoked, and have everyone bring a blanket or shawl to keep cozy.

I bet you can come up with other ideas from socially distant holiday celebrations around a fire pit. There are so many possibilities with this one and sometimes, seeing people face to face is exactly what you need… even from six feet away.

Related: Fresh Holiday Playlists for the Road (or the House)

Socially Distanced Holidays

Photo: Dom on Unsplash

2. Tailgate

Want to catch up with friends or family and virtual chats just aren’t doing it for you? Having a tailgate is one of the best ideas for socially distant holidays. They’re not just for football anymore. Find an open space or an empty parking lot and circle your cars up and have a visit. 

This is the new 2020 way to have a coffee or lunch date. Hit a drive-through and grab your coffee, food, or other treats, and catch up. Some great places to consider are movie theater or mall parking lots. These typically have a lot of space for this type of gathering, and not many people are going to the movies or shopping malls right now. You can also consider a church or school parking lot on non-church or non-school days. 

If you think permission to hold a social gathering in someone’s parking lot is necessary, please ask first.

3. Zoom Dinner Party

This past Thanksgiving saw many dinners enjoyed over Zoom. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but a popular way to enjoy this option is for everyone to plan the menu and cook the same recipes. That way, it feels like you’re all enjoying dinner together at the same table. 

You can organize themes and decorations and games as well. We recommend having some conversation starters written down, like asking people what they’re bingeing on Netflix. That’s always a good 2020 way to get people talking—and a god way to figure out your evening plans!

Socially Distanced Holidays

Photo: Amvia on Unsplash

4. Virtual Cookie Exchange

While it’s not the same as being together, a cookie swap can be done virtually with a little extra planning. You’ll need to nail down your rules of cookie engagement early and have a deadline for everyone to mail their cookies to the other participants, or porch drop if everyone is local. Find a fun way to make a compilation of everyone’s recipes, either online or through a printing service like Minted or Shutterfly. 

If you aren’t comfortable swapping food, you can still swap your favorite recipes! Just about everyone has that Extra Special cookie recipe they make every year. You can always pass along the instructions—and all the little tips that make your family’s cookies so delicious—and encourage everyone to bake for themselves.

5. Virtual Mixology Class

Yes, there’s a lot of “virtuals” in this list of ideas for socially distant holidays, but we really like this one. Maybe because if ever there was a year where we needed a cocktail, 2020 is surely it.


If someone in your circles is a cocktail aficionado, why not put together a virtual class to toast the holidays? This one is pretty easy to set up. Your mixologist can send out a list of ingredients and barware ahead of time and you can catch up (and maybe play a game or two). If you want to be the friend to set up the cocktail bare, then we’ve got you covered with a list of our favorite car-themed cocktails!

Socially Distanced Holidays

Photo: Kyryll Ushakov on Unsplash

6. Secret Santa

There are lots of ways to do a gift exchange virtually. Amazon wish lists and programs like Elfster make it easy to select and direct ship a gift to anyone. 

Some ladies in my community hosted a secret sister gift exchange where the stipulation was that the gift be direct shipped or porch dropped to avoid stores and the post office. 

Related: Feeling Anxious These Days? You’re not alone.

7. Watch Christmas Movies Online

Both Netflix and Disney+ have group stream or watch with a buddy option. Netflix includes a chatbox where you can talk in real time with your virtual movie pal. New streaming services are popping up all the time, so check out what the options for watching with others are if you have a different favorite streaming service you love. 

Do you have other ideas?

It’s amazed us how creative people have gotten this year. If you’ve got a great idea to stay connected with loved ones this year, let us know!

Socially Distanced Holidays

Jill is the oldest mom with the youngest kids pretty much everywhere she goes. She has a 29-year-old daughter... More about Jill Robbins