Together, Wherever

12 Long-Distance Holiday Ideas

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Hand holding phone for video chat with woman opening photo gift

In what may be one of few or the first holiday seasons apart from loved ones, this year will be marked by a longing to connect like never before. Fortunately, between technology, photography, and a little creativity, many traditions can still carry on in meaningful ways.

If you’ll be participating in long-distance Christmas, Hanukkah, or holiday festivities, let these ideas from our very own family be a source of inspiration to stay connected with yours.

Start a Shared Album

Idea From Lizzy on Our Product Team

Cortado next to laptop

Throughout this season, we all find ourselves taking photos — inside our homes, outdoor adventures, everyday family moments. Keep distant loved ones in the loop by sharing a digital album you can all contribute to over the coming weeks! We recommend Google Photos, Dropbox, or Apple’s shared albums right on your iPhones. By the new year, you’ll have all the photos you need to print an album or photo calendar and make copies for everyone.

Group Chat With Those Abroad

Idea From Alberto on Our Marketing Team

App screen on phone

Have friends or family dispersed around the globe? Stay in touch by sending photos and weekly updates through a group chat service. Whatsapp and Telegram are widely adopted, free platforms that are especially handy for communicating with those abroad! All those quotes and priceless photos (which get grouped by chat!) are preserved, so they're easy to find for photo prints — time capsules of the season that also make for great gifts.

Leave Little Care Packages

Idea From Erin on Our Creative Team

Cookies and photo print left at front door

Sometimes, it’s toughest to be apart from friends and family who are a simple drive away. Luckily, this makes leaving little care packages on their front door all the more easy. Some ideas for what could go inside: homemade treats, a take-out gift card, seasonal candle, or bag of local coffee beans. Don’t forget to top it off with your holiday card or photo of you together, including a handwritten note!

Play Movies or Games Virtually

Idea From Tina on Our Customer Experience Team

Woman video chatting and playing games virtually

Thanks to technology, movies and games can still be enjoyed together from afar. Watch a movie using a streaming service, like Scener or Teleparty, or play virtual games remotely on Steam or Jackbox. Some classics like Monopoly and Uno even have their own apps!

Start an Ornament Exchange

Idea From Kristin on Our Brand Team

Artifact Uprising Wood Calendar hanging from tree as an ornament
Photo by @clarissaescobar_

A simple way to make home feel like the holidays is through decor — starting with the tree. As the centerpiece for many celebrations, this is the perfect place to incorporate meaningful ornaments traded between friends and family to keep them top of mind. To do this, have participants send each other an ornament, whether it’s store-bought or DIY, for a little piece of them to become a part of everyone’s homes.

Swap Holiday Recipes

Idea From Crista on Our Customer Experience Team

Note written on the opening page of a DIY cookbook

'Tis the season for sweet treats and second helpings! For many of us, the holidays revolve around the kitchen, so shared recipes can be the next best thing to cooking for each other. Try starting a recipe swap, then turn the collection into a homemade cookbook. You can even make a copy for each contributor to savor for years to come.

Share in Story Time

Idea From Emily on Our Innovation Team

Mother and baby reading baby book filled with family members' photos and names

Grandparents, aunts, and uncles will surely miss spending time with their littles during the holidays. Create a Baby Board Book for relatives to tune in for virtual story time and read aloud while everyone follows along. Sharing photos paired with familiar names and words can help close the distance between you and bring joy to learning.

Count Down Together

Idea From Kristin on Our Marketing Team

Holiday advent calendar created using Artifact Uprising photo prints

If you’re not familiar with Advent calendars, in short, they’re daily countdowns to the 25th of December, with little windows or envelopes for stashed surprises. They also make for creative long-distance Christmas ideas! For each day, incorporate a little photo print and handwritten note to look back on a memory together. Every photo can live in a numbered envelope, or be hung in order to flip around in succession — have fun with it!

Keep It in the Kitchen

Idea From Hayley on Our Creative Team

Daughter and mother baking pumpkin pie while FaceTiming family

If you’re like us, baking desserts is synonymous with the holiday season. Just because it’ll be a long-distance holiday, doesn’t mean those meaningful moments in the kitchen can’t happen — in fact, they must for the sake of cookies. So put your phone or laptop on the counter and keep the tradition (and dessert table) alive by baking together via video chat. You can even try the same recipe to go step-by-step together and compare results!

Host a Virtual Happy Hour

Idea From Madeleine on Our Brand Team

Glass of white wine next to phone on table

Shake up the typical virtual happy hour by sending out a cocktail recipe for attendees to make for the get-together. Better yet — schedule a weekly digital gathering, and trade off who gets to choose the cocktail. Be sure to send out the ingredients in advance so everyone can have them on hand!

Make a Shared Playlist

Idea From Lyndee on Our Design Services Team

Woman listening to Spotify on her phone

Nothing lifts spirits quite like music. Have everyone in your family or friend group add songs (holiday or otherwise) to a collaborative playlist, creating a shared soundtrack for the season. Bonus points for all playing it when opening your gifts, baking, or playing games together virtually!

Open Gifts Together

Idea From Anna on Our Design Services Team

Hand holding phone for video chat with woman opening photo gift

The pinnacle of the season doesn’t have to be spent apart. Now that many of us are video conferencing experts, opening gifts together via Zoom, Hangouts, or Facetime will feel like second nature. Don’t forget to hit record to create family videos that will be perfectly representative of 2020.

Note: We'd love to see how your family gets creative, as well as reactions to your thoughtful gifts! If you have video of someone opening theirs, you can share that holiday spirit (and watch some of our favorites!) here.

Tips for Taking Photos Via Video Chat

mother and two young children video chatting with family

Even when virtually gathering, we’re fans of capturing the moments you spend together. Here are a few tips for taking photos and screenshots during video calls on different platforms!

To start, opt for a screen layout that shows as many faces as possible in a grid view. Then, make sure you give everyone a heads-up! From there…

Tips for Taking Photos Via Video Chat

Zoom and Google Meet / Hangouts

Use your device’s native screenshot tool or shortcut to snap a shot of everyone on your call. On a phone, this is usually the power button + volume button. On Mac OS, it’s Shift + CMD + 3 for the full screen (you can crop it later) or Shift + CMD + 4 for a specified portion portion. On Windows, use the Print Screen button or Snipping Tool / Snip & Sketch (activated with Windows Key + Shift + S).


While you can use the same methods outlined above, FaceTime also allows you to take a Live Photo during your call with the white, circular button. Make sure everyone has that option toggled on in their settings (it usually is by default) by going to Settings > FaceTime > allow FaceTime Live Photos. Once snapped, you’ll find the images in your Photos app, with the rest of your camera roll.

So About Those Photo Gifts...

Have You Made Yours?

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