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The best way to Actually Bond with Your Household This Vacation Season

Let’s not get around the holly bush: the holiday season just isn’t the same this year. You could throw yourself into the garbage dumps OR get creative with ways to celebrate with friends and family. In all honesty, it’s okay to do both. Worry about the equivocal losses we all experience this season and look for ways to get the most out of what we have.

We may be apart from loved ones, but we can still be together in spirit. One thing I’ve realized this year is how often physical proximity is used as a proxy for bonding. That is, people come together in the same physical space and call it “bond” when they are really close to one another. It’s great to be in the same room – oh how much I miss it – but by itself it doesn’t create any emotional closeness or deep connection. Nobody makes lasting memories just because they watch a soccer game and eat turkey together.

This year we have the opportunity to get out of old rut and try something different, maybe even start new traditions. Somebody has to put the Ho-Ho-Ho on vacation, and I’m nominating you. Here are some ideas you can put into action:

Things you and your loved ones can create together

Any family members or friends contribute, and the graduation project is something special to keep for years. You will learn more about your family members and get a record of special memories or family favorites. As a bonus, these ideas are all free!

Shared photo album

Set up a shared album in one of the many online photo album tools. Invite family members to submit their favorite family photos from years gone by, or specifically request old vacation photos.

Level up: You can optionally arrange the photos chronologically. Have a Family Zoom session and watch the slideshow together. Stop to remember and tell stories about the scenes from the pictures.

Family cookbook

Everyone submits their favorite recipes. A shared Google Doc will do, but it is even better if someone collects the recipes and arranges them as a PDF. Free tools like Canva make it easy to make a simple cookbook that everyone can get as a Christmas gift. You could even have them spiral bound and mailed to people who prefer hard copies.

Level up: Host a Zoom party where everyone cooks a special family recipe together, or a virtual dinner party where everyone prepares recipes from the cookbook at home.

Memory book

Same idea as the cookbook, but everyone shares their favorite memories of past holidays or tells the wildest family legends.

Level up: Have a person collect the memories and put the stories in a slideshow to share during a virtual meeting.

Music playlist

Nominate a “presenter” to collect everyone’s favorite songs (vacation or otherwise) and, for example, create a family playlist in Spotify.

Level up: Everyone agrees to play the playlist at the same time – possibly when opening gifts or during a specific meal – so that you can share an experience even when they are not together.

2020 time capsule

You may think you don’t want to remember 2020, but if enough time goes by, you may feel different. Anyway, future generations will be fascinated by what we’ve been through. Create a family time capsule with elements typical of this year. Masks, hand sanitisers and toilet paper are a given, but what else does your family notice? Did you play a certain game over and over or did you maybe watch certain shows together? Perhaps you have made unforgettable hikes or made a special stay. Include elements that will remind you of them. Have each family member write down their positive and negative memories and seal them in an envelope to be opened later.

Other things you can do about zoom

Happy hour

Pajama party

Ugly sweater party

Sing along, karaoke (yes you can do zoom karaoke!)

Virtual painting party: Many of the “Paint and Sip” facilities are personally closed, but are hosting virtual events.

Virtual biscuit or gingerbread house decoration: everyone gets their own supplies. Have prizes for the most creative, festive, or most decorations on a cookie.

Take you to Etsy! Etsy offers a variety of downloadable virtual games related to vacation (like this one) or other games designed to be played through Zoom. There are also a variety of online games that you can play remotely. Maybe great-grandmother would like to learn how to play among us?

Other ideas

Cookie exchange, ornament exchange or secret Santa Claus. When you’re on site, leave treats on the porch or do a secret Santa in the mail if you’re geographically separated. Perhaps this year you will be doing “Letters from Santa Claus” instead, in which everyone writes a heartfelt thank you letter to another person in your family or friends.

Family walk or 5 km. If you can safely get together with local friends and family, this is an option, but most of the races were virtual anyway this year. You can “host” an event in which everyone travels 3 miles alone one morning. Meet up on Zoom for celebratory cocoa after the race. If you want to give it your all, create bib numbers, custom shirts, and / or medals to print at home.

Attitude is everything

Neither of these options will be enough if you go on vacation with the attitude that it is already ruined. No question about it, it’s disappointing that we can’t have our normal vacation this year. However, we can choose to take advantage of the opportunities we have. Just as many of us have found unexpected silver linings with the locks (no commuting! More time with our kids!), There can be silver linings here too. For example, you can “hang out” with more family members than usual as they all call virtually.

Be open and don’t expect this year to be below par. I guarantee that focusing on the negatives will ruin your vacation spirit. Make a conscious effort to try something new. Don’t be surprised if these become some of your most precious vacation memories!

About the author

Lindsay Taylor, Ph.D., is Senior Writer and Community Manager at Primal Nutrition, a certified Primal Health Coach and co-author of three keto cookbooks.

Lindsay is the author of Marks Daily Apple and the leader of the thriving Keto Reset and Primal Endurance community. Its job is to help people learn the what, why and how of a health-oriented life. Before joining the Primal team, she earned her Masters and Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, where she also worked as a researcher and educator.

Lindsay lives in Northern California with her husband and two sport-obsessed sons. In her free time, she enjoys ultra running, triathlon, camping and game nights. Follow @theusefuldish on Instagram as Lindsay tries to balance work, family and cardio exercise while maintaining a healthy balance and, most importantly, enjoying life. More information is available at lindsaytaylor.co.

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