If you’re like me, you start to miss that time you’ve spent with family the minute you climb in the car to drive home after that family vacation or reunion. Everything is cleaned up and the open space looks kind of empty. Everyone is headed their separate ways. My hubby calls this the “walk of sadness” as we give those last few hugs goodbye. It’s about this time I know that I need to stay in touch and keep those connections I’ve made with my family.
In my head, as while we are still driving home, I am already beginning to plan not just for the next time we get together, but also how we can stay connected until then.
Why is it Important to Stay in Touch with Family?
An article by WebMD provides the following information on how staying in touch with family benefits us:
“This idea of feeling connected becomes very reinforcing, to all of us, and contributes to happiness, it contributes to mental health and it does contribute also to physical health.”John northman, psychologist
The article discusses how keeping in touch with family benefits us:
- Emotional Support: It makes us feel better when we are able to share happy moments and memories together.
- Esteem support: We can feel good about ourselves. Our family can validate that we’re doing well and help us out when we aren’t doing so well.
- Informational support: We can teach other things by passing on our knowledge…like hobbies and family recipes…hints and tips on how “Grandma always did it.”
- Network support: It gives us a sense that we belong. It’s really important to have a place where you feel like you’re accepted and you belong.
- Tangible support: What college kid doesn’t enjoy getting birthday money in a card or a care package from home?
Ideas to Stay in Touch with Family Online
I’ll be the first to admit that although I may not always be the most adept at using technology, I love all of the fun ways available to connect online. It’s never been easier to come up with new ideas to stay in touch with the family.
Below are a few ideas on how to stay connected online between vacations, reunions…and even during a pandemic. Pick and choose and create an online family reunion. Want more information on how to hold an online family reunion? Grab the free downloadable guide to coordinating an online family reunion on the sign-up at the bottom of the page.
Baking or Cooking Together
Send out an invite with a recipe, let everyone gather their ingredients, and spend a Sunday afternoon making Grandma’s pot roast via video call together.
It’s a great opportunity to share helpful hints or the “secret” ingredient Grandma left off her recipe card. My mom used to leave ingredients off of recipes she’d hand out so no one’s tasted just like hers. Over the years, we’ve compared her recipes and finally been able to figure out her real recipe. Sorry, Mom, but we loved yours so much we just had to play detective to be sure we got it right.
Or spend an evening baking or decorating cookies. Traditionally, the cousins (now grown) have gathered to decorate Christmas cookies together. This year, during the pandemic, they can gather via video and still decorate cookies. They can share their funny creations…just at their own homes through video.
Bluebird Bakes offers seasonal “decorate yourself kits” if you’re running short on time to do your own baking and frosting making.
Chocolate (or wine or soda or cookie or anything) Tasting
The start of the COVID-19 pandemic had many businesses needing to quickly pivot their business models. Here in Washington, we saw wineries that offered virtual wine tastings. You could simply have your wines shipped or pick-up them up for your virtual wine tasting.
I have seen friends and family take this a step further offering virtual chocolate tastings and virtual soda tastings together. Order everyone a bag of assorted Ghirardelli minis. Jones Soda offers some great variety packs of soda that can be ordered online.
Simply connect virtually with your goodies and compare your tastings with your family. Use your creativity and and find something that is perfect for your family!
Play Games Together Online
Our family has been enjoying virtual game nights every month for the last nine months and probably will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It doesn’t matter where in the world family members are, as long as they have internet, they can participate.
We’ve had trivia nights, as well as played games like Family Feud and Never Have I Ever. Next on our agenda is a game of Harry Potter-themed Hollywood Squares. Zoom is perfect to hold these as it allows you to share your screen if you’ve got a game board.
Social Media Challenges
In the past, we’ve seen big social media challenges like the “ice bucket challenge.” You can create your own social media challenge for just your family. Maybe it reflects something that has meaning to your family…like taking a picture with a spoon hanging from your nose.
Stream a Movie
While you may miss those in-person movie nights, there is a way around that. Make a video call, choose a movie, and have everyone start it at the same time. Better yet, there are apps like Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party) that let you view movies or TV shows simultaneously.
As people get older, sometimes they tend to talk less. A video call is a great idea to stay in touch family…and pretty easy. The number of apps and programs available are pretty numerous. Some of our favorites are Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, and Facebook.
Virtual Book Club
I have always wanted to be a part of a book club. So pick an evening, set a time, gather some snacks for an hour or two of sharing what you’re reading and whether or not you’d recommend it. Alternatively, you can have everyone read the same book and discuss it.
And for those with younger kiddos in the group, maybe Grandma and Grandpa could do a book reading. Can’t get together for the annual reading of “The Night Before Christmas”? Set up a call where it gets read virtually or record a video and share it with family.
Ideas to Stay in Touch with Family Offline (aka the Old-Fashioned Way)
There is nothing like getting a care package. It shows that the sender…well…cares about you! You know someone is thinking of you. If you’ve got an upcoming family reunion or vacation planned, it can contain things to help build excitement…like a countdown calendar or packing list or suntan lotion.
A care package can also be themed to a holiday. Think outside the box. Is Global Handwashing Day coming up? How about a box filled with nicely scented hand soap and lotions? Be creative and try to make it fit your family.
A family newsletter is the perfect way to let everyone know what’s going on throughout the extended family. A newsletter can be sent as an attachment via email…and if Great Aunt Edna doesn’t “do” email, you can send her a copy via snail mail.
In today’s world of text messaging, it’s easy to forget how simple it is to just dial a family member and give them a quick call to check in on them. Ask them how they’re doing. You’re probably not the only one struggling with being separated from family. It’s such a small act that can mean the world to someone.
Send Cards and Letters
My grandma never missed a birthday. She always signed them “Loads of love, Grandma.” This was no easy feat considering she had 6 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren and numerous friends and extended family she kept in touch with. Going through her things after she passed, we realized what a large part of her days were probably spent letting people know that she was thinking of them.
I still love to send (and receive) real, physical birthday and Christmas cards. We send them to our nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews, siblings, etc. If you’re 18 or under, you still get $10 from us. I love to hear how the kiddos use that money. The most recent purchase by a great-nephew was for a stuffed baby Yoda. Oh, that makes my Star Wars-loving heart melt.
Stay in Touch with Family Through a Virtual Reunion
The perfect way to stay in touch with family between those in-person reunions and vacations is to connect virtually. Our family has had so much fun the past few years playing games online, sharing recipes, and so much more through our family Facebook group.
In addition, many families can’t manage to coordinate a family reunion or vacation every year. Holding an virtual reunion can be the perfect way to substitute an in-person reunion with a virtual one. We’ve put together some great articles and a free quick guide for holding an online reunion. Sign up below and leave your ideas in the comments below on how you stay connected with your family when you can’t be together in-person.
- Online Reunions are Relatively Simple and Loads of Fun
- Six Reasons to Have an Online Family Reunion This Year
- Planning the Time and Location of Your Virtual Family Reunion
- Deciding How Often to Hold an Online Reunion
Please share this article with family and friends who are itching to stay connected.