Even if your family can't be together this holiday, you can help your grandmother, uncle, or other relatives feel like they're a part of your celebration. Whether you use technology's latest gadgets or traditional forms of keeping in touch, try these ideas to make a close connection:
- Decorating Exchange
Send your faraway family member something for his holiday table, and invite him to do the same. A flower arrangement, table linens, or handwritten place-cards with photos attached add a special touch.
- Holiday Calendar
Do you have several activities planned? Decorate a calendar and send it along so your relatives can see what your household is up to this season.
- Kid Photographer
Challenge your older child to make a holiday album. Give him his own camera (disposable is fine) to record the day's events.
- Mail a Party
If you have a relative that will be spending a quiet holiday, pack him a party-in-a-box, with a place setting of holiday plates and napkins, confetti, sweets, etc., along with a card from your child.
- Pen Pal
Even in the age of instant messaging and faxes, there's still something magical about the mail. Encourage your child to exchange letters, cards, and holiday-themed artwork with an aunt or grandparent.
- Cookie Swap
Schedule a day to bake cookies, a cake, or another family recipe with your child, and invite your long-distance relative to do the same.
- Movie Night
Arrange to watch the same holiday special or rent a favorite movie with your relative. Schedule a time for her to call your child to talk about the best parts.
- Music Dedication
If you have a local radio station that does dedications, request a special song for your relative, record it, and mail him the tape. You could also send a mix tape or CD of holiday tunes you make yourselves.
- Story Sharing
If your relative has or can rent a video camera, ask him to record himself reading a story and send it to your child — he could even dress up as Santa for a holiday story. If a camera's not handy, he could read a picture book to your child over the phone (or record it on audio tape) as she follows along with the story.
- Photos All Around
Be sure to include pictures of absent family in your holiday decorations. Try to take a little time to share stories of holidays when you were all together with your child.
- Singing Speakerphone
If you're a musical family (or even if you're not), gather around a speakerphone for a few carols. Try three-way calling for a family musicale. Record your efforts, and share them next season.
- Make a Movie
Is your child's class having a school recital? Be sure to videotape the event and send it along. Add a program to the package for an extra touch.
- Web Replay
If you have a Web site and your relative is online, consider taking digital photos and posting them on the site throughout the day. That way, your relative can visually check in with what's going on.