A very online Christmas?

Like most things in 2020, this winter festive season feels very different from usual. Normally this time of year would be all about family and friends. So what do we do when meeting up isn’t possible, or safe?

The Bloom team has been running human-centered business programs for the last 13 years (through various previous and related initiatives), and online over the past 4 years. So this holiday, we set our brains to ‘fun’ and applied our know-how to making the season bright. Here are some of our top ideas for a happy, connected festive season, wherever you are.

DMN, General Manager & Co-Founder

I really miss gatherings – I’m a hugger, and I love dancing and meeting people – but I think it’s so important to avoid putting family or friends at risk by meeting up. So it’s been good to explore fun ways to make online calls more social and human. Some ideas are: 

  1. Share a drink or meal together. We know that sharing meals and drinks is part of our social experience, and let’s bring that into the virtual realm! For the simple version, people can just prepare their own delights and tell the others what they’re having. For a more advanced approach, you can agree to have the same recipe, or order from the same place / style, or have one person treat the others and order delivery for the other people on the call! (Just make sure you know allergies / preferences before ordering!) 
  1. Keep the group size small. It’s hard to maintain a single conversation with more than 4-5 people, and even with a group that size in an in-person environment there would likely be smaller conversations at times as well. It’s hard to do that in a virtual environment, where side conversations either break up the group dynamic (such as using Zoom breakout rooms), or are very disruptive. To keep things simple and cohesive, keep discussions small, so everyone can participate and be engaged. To have a really fun / social experience, organize a few of those small group sessions back-to-back over a few hours, so you can have quality time with all those people, but feel a sense of social fulfillment. My wife organized a session like that for my birthday with a handful of good friends around the world I hadn’t been in touch with for a long time, over the course of a few hours, and it was a beautiful experience! 
  1. Do some fun activities together! A bit of dancing? A game of chess? Online games? 2 truths and a lie using a Google Spreadsheet with everyone in incognito mode? Origami? Mix it up and have fun! We recently played a game on a happy hour call with our team where we set up a Google Spreadsheet where everyone (in incognito mode) wrote down two truths about themselves, plus something strange that’s in their home (bridging the online and physical worlds), and then we had columns where the rest of us would guess which items are for which person. Then we took turns going through one-by-one and guessing and revealing the truth. It was a ton of fun! Give it a shot!

There’s so much more we can do online together, that is fun, and meaningful, and safe … and could be great even beyond the lockdowns to help us all feel more connected with people living far away. 

Have fun with it! 

Bilal, Bloom’s Head of Research & Co-Founder

While we may need to keep distance from our loved ones that doesn’t mean we can’t be creative and find ways to connect deeply. After years of long distance relationships I’ve developed a few insights:

  1. Blur the boundaries. For my partner and I to enjoy a mutual evening “together” over the internet I sent her the same color and style flowers as I had on my screen and ordered the same takeout. We then also played the same media together, so we were seeing, tasting and hearing the same thing. Having a similar sensory experience  beyond the picture/voice that video calls have to offer can really set a tone. If you can, think about surprising people with a special delivery 🙂
  2. Don’t look at each other. It sounds counter intuitive, and it might work for you. Rather than looking at your family through the screen and wishing they were closer and wanting more. How about doing a mutual activity together with their presence available on the video call. As a suggestion you could both listen to a podcast and work on a collaborative puzzle together.
  3. Follow well crafted facilitations designed to be 100% virtual. There are some incredible communities creating experiences that are meaningful and 100% virtual. Check out Authentic Relating games for some facilitation guidance. This list from Joe Edelman has some virtual ways to connect at a distance. If you have ideas, share!
  4. KIS – Keep It Simple:  https://skribbl.io/ has been a really fun way to play with each other without a lot of complexity.

At Bloom we want to take advantage of “disadvantage” – and our question always has been how do we take our programs online and preserve the human connection. We’ve learned from so many people and we hope to learn from you. Please share with us your tips on how to benefit from going online.

Lana, Communication Engagement Officer

I read these sweet tips a few days ago – as I’m stuck home quarantined for the holidays and felt it was a good time to reinvent the holiday and its traditions!

🎉 Be as imaginative as possible: Hold a close family Christmas party in your house. Dress up. Play games. Do a treasure hunt in the garden or at home.⁠

🍗 Make Christmas dinner simple & fun: While we’ll be missing the usual Christmas dinner arrangements and dishes, we’ve decided to make our classic taco night, instead. Add in some cocktails or mocktails, too! 

💞 Gifting for a good cause: Opening gifts might be slightly different, so we’ve put fewer gifts under the tree, and made sure to buy / order from local craftsmen and makers, especially ones whose proceeds are for social impact and good causes. 

💌 Spread some virtual love: Virtual Netflix movie nights, reposting past memories with friends over social to let them know you’re thinking of them, creating cute cards and virtual notes on Canva, sending home delivery packages / flowers from local businesses for friends and family – tons of ways to keep connected and make sure your loved ones feel your presence from the safety and comfort of your home.

Angela, Communications Consultant

I’m really sad to be away from my parents, brother and sisters in the UK – I haven’t seen my dad and sisters for over a year. But my husband, son and I will be having a cheerful little Christmas at home in Amsterdam ❤️

I was worried that with a tough lockdown in the Netherlands, and the cold weather, we would get cabin fever in our apartment and drift into feeling depressed. So we came up with a way to make moments to look forward to, by embracing the concept of Organised Fun. I made this basic planner (using an InDesign template and some vector files from Freepik). Now we are filling it with fun, covid-proof things to do, and most importantly… eat.

What are YOUR top tips for celebrating together, apart? Add a note below so we can try out your ideas too 🙂

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