This year has been challenging for many of us. With families restricted on when they could meet up due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many have been looking forward to Christmas and the time traditionally spent with loved ones.

Reports suggest that up to three households can form a bubble and get together for a few days around Christmas. However, the new year is expected to involve restrictions. Even with the ability to form a bubble, you may not be able to see all your family and friends as you normally would over the festive period. But that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate together.

Keep in mind too, that Covid-19 restrictions may change at short notice. While it’s hoped that families will be able to spend Christmas day together, there’s no guarantee and it will depend on how the situation develops.

While a ‘normal’ Christmas and new year are unlikely, there are ways you can be with loved ones over the coming weeks.

Plan video calls to mark usual traditions

If you’re not able to be together, video calls are a great way of keeping in touch and carrying out the usual traditions.

Having a plan for the most important ones can mean loved ones are still involved in the celebrations, even if you can’t be together. That might mean using Zoom to schedule a call so you can watch grandchildren open their Christmas presents in the morning or swapping Christmas cracker jokes in the afternoon. Scheduling the calls can help everyone organise their day and ensure things aren’t missed simply because other things are going off.

Think about the parts of Christmas that are the most important to you and your family when arranging calls.

Go for a socially distanced walk

Getting outdoors for a walk in winter can be magical. While most of us often spend Christmas indoors, a walk can be a great opportunity to spend time with loved ones. A walk around a local park that’s covered with frost can really put you in a festive mood. Plan ahead and take a flask filled with hot chocolate or mulled wine to get you into the holiday spirit too.

Remember to check local restrictions before making plans outside of a bubble and stick to the social distancing guidelines where possible.

Discover online games and quizzes

If your family is a fan of playing board games and quizzes when together, finding online alternatives can be a fun way to connect this year.

For board game fans, there are plenty of options online. If you have a family favourite, try giving it a search on Google, the most popular ones often have online or app-based options. But if you’re looking for something new, there are dedicated websites worth exploring, including Board Game Arena and Tabletopia. Both have free to play options and premium games that you need to pay for.

For quizzes, there are once again plenty of online options to try. But if you have a quiz expert in your group, asking them to put together some questions can make the game more personal to you. Kahoot! is an excellent app that lets you host a quiz with each player using their phone to answer questions.

Don’t give up traditional games either, with a bit of creative thinking, you can set up a game of charades or Pictionary over a video call too.

Plan ahead

Making plans for Christmas always means thinking ahead, from when to get the turkey to putting up the decorations. But this year’s restrictions mean a little more planning can go a long way.

For instance, pass presents on to recipients before the big day, ensuring they’re able to open them even if plans are forced to change last minute. The postal service is always busy this time of the year, but expect more delays than normal as people turn to online shopping options. So, order gifts and send any cards as early as possible.

While a plan can help you get the most out of Christmas this year, they may have to change too. Expect the government to amend restrictions and guidelines both nationally and regionally as new information is available. Keep in touch with friends and family to make sure everyone is clear on what your plans are over the festive period.