The Ultimate Guide to Organizing Christmas Dinners in Lockdown

Last Updated on 31st December 2020
A virtual Christmas is not exactly how we planned to spend our holidays in 2020, but we'll need to adapt in order to keep our families, particularly our elders and children, safe with the ongoing pandemic.

Although most families will be physically apart for Christmas this year, that doesn't mean you have to be completely alone. Just because you can't go out to enjoy a big Christmas market doesn't mean you can't reminisce of your memories there or dream of your plans to visit the best and biggest Christmas markets in the world. We've rounded up our best tips to have a Christmas dinner to remember despite lockdown.
Virtual Christmas dinner Family Gathering
Credit: Jed Owen/Unsplash
1. Take stock of the family schedules—and time zones.
The bright side of a "Zoom Christmas" is that everyone in the family can take part, regardless of whether they're in different time zones. Find the best common time to schedule a virtual Christmas dinner (or brunch, depending on where your relatives are located).

2. Help out gran and gamps on the tech side.
Give the grandparents a quick call to guide them with the tech side of joining a Zoom call. Work out the kinks before the Christmas dinner so they won't miss a single second of the family gathering.

3. Vote on a theme.
Since Christmas dinner won't be at one person's house this year, it's safe to say that the theme is up for a democratic vote. Gather the kids, parents, and grandparents in a pre-dinner meeting to vote on this year's Christmas dinner theme. Will it be an all-dessert dinner, like the kids want? A mix of cuisines to give the family a tasty reminder of traveling? Or everything in between?

4. Decide if you want to order or cook.
Make the menu a family collaboration. If you decide to order food to save yourself a trip to a crowded grocery, have everyone order from the same restaurant to be delivered simultaneously. Or if you plan to cook, make everyone cook the same thing so you can pretend you're all sharing a meal from the same serving plate.
Family Travel Cooking in the Kitchen
Credit: Jimmy Dean/Unsplash
5. Cook on camera.
If the family is opting to cook the same meals, why not take it a step further and cook together. Start the Zoom early and livestream everyone making Christmas dinner at home. It'll be all the more funnier when you catch your relatives burning the food. You could even make it a cooking show with the best family cook taking the lead by passing down secret family recipes and special ingredients.

6. Organize a bake-off between the cousins.
Lockdown has made little chefs out of plenty of kids spending all their time at home. Make a game out of family cooking, and ignite a little competition between the young cousins to see which child-baked dessert looks the tastiest. You could even livestream it to make it more fun for the youngsters. But award them all for the effort!

7. Set up a (virtual) Secret Santa.
During the pre-dinner meeting, use a website like DrawNames to organize an online Secret Santa so the family can still celebrate the spirit of giving during the holidays. Send your wishlists out to the family group chat, and deliver your gifts via courier to your relatives. Save the gifts until the Zoom Christmas Dinner to open them up on camera for the family to see.
Amazon package Christmas Gift
Credit: Wicked Monday/Unsplash
8. Schedule a live performer.
Or have a talented family member perform instead. Since Christmas carol sing-a-longs might not work because of internet delays, you could hire a musician or recruit a family member to perform a few Christmas songs for the family. Regardless of where you are or how you're staying connected, a Christmas song is a foolproof way to keep the holiday spirit alive.

9. Have a fun interactive holiday workshop.
Let the crafty cousin or aunt take over the Zoom for a bit to teach the family how to put together a wreath or set up a gingerbread house. This is one way to educate children on family Christmas traditions despite the physical distance of the season.

10. Create Zoom Rooms.
Every Christmas, the adults gather around the dining table to enjoy a cup of wine (or four), while the kids play together in the living room without the adults around. You can still carry on this tradition by using Zoom's breakout rooms if you have multiple devices at home. Basically, you can make a virtual version of the kid's table by giving the children their own Zoom room. The big kids, or the teenagers, can have their own too, while the adults can enjoy their wine time child-free.

11. Tell stories by the fireplace.
No Christmas is complete without a story by the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate. Give the family's best storyteller the spotlight and let them narrate a Christmas story for all the children. You can even add sound effects and fireplace Zoom backgrounds to complete the experience.

12. Take a screenshot!
With everyone gathered in front of their cameras, take a screenshot of everyone striking a pose. It's not every year that a screenshot becomes the latest family photo, but let it be a reminder of the hard year that the family overcame together.
Family gathering through Zoom
Credit: Chris Montgomery/Unsplash
Have a wonderful day wherever you are and safe travels.
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