5 things to do in isolation, whatever your holiday mood

Spend your socially distanced holidays the way you want, whether it’s with others or in your own company
Privacy news
2 mins
Video camera icon with confetti and numbers around it.

This post was originally published on December 23, 2020.

The winter days feel particularly dark this year, with travel restrictions discouraging visits to family and friends over the holiday season. But there is reason to be cautiously hopeful in the new year, with the quick deployment of vaccines signifying a possible end to the pandemic’s grip on the world.

While we’re still hunkered down, a physically distanced holiday doesn’t have to mean you have to cut off socializing completely—that is, unless you want to. Whether it’s bingeing well-loved TV shows or playing games on Zoom, here’s how you can spend the winter holidays while staying safe and warm.

Feeling social? Host a holiday party online

We are no longer strangers to seeing people in the virtual space of video-conferencing apps like Zoom this year.

Get a group of friends together as you each try to recreate a pastry from your favorite baking show, or stream some classic Christmas movies. If you’re going for something more interactive, consider a virtual trivia night—there are plenty of guides (and questions) online. If you miss traveling this year, you and your Zoom pals can take on Geoguessr to see if you can guess where in the middle of nowhere you are.

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Just make sure to configure your security settings first before starting up a game to prevent people from “Zoom-bombing” your calls. And if you have to sign up to use a website’s games, avoid signing in with Facebook or Google.

Missing family? Pick up the phone

Perhaps you’re not up for a full-blown Zoom party. Go old school with a phone call or video chat with your loved ones. While some relatives might still exclusively use a landline, anyone else who has a smartphone should opt for a secure messaging app that uses end-to-end encryption, such as Signal (which just recently introduced group video calls of up to five people) or WhatsApp.

Being lazy? Have a(nother) movie marathon

With so many streaming services available, nothing is stopping you from visiting (or revisiting) your favorite movies and TV shows this holiday season, whether you’re on your own or with family. Lie back with some microwaved popcorn and catch up on a movie or a TV show you’ve been meaning to watch. We have a few of our own suggestions to get you started.

Having screen fatigue? Take a break from your devices

If you’d like to give your eyes a break from the screen or social media, consider tuning in to your favorite podcasts and playlists on Spotify, make a dent in that book you’ve been meaning to read, or even get a pen and paper and do a bit of doodling or journaling. A nice little bonus is that you can do it all without having to feel any pressure to share it online.

Overwhelmed? Do your own thing

This year has been pretty rough for many, and sometimes just taking a day or two to unwind can help. If Zoom fatigue is hitting you particularly hard, or you’d rather be in your own company for a bit, take that time to log off, make a hot drink, and jot down some things you want to get done. It can be anything from making your bed to going out for a brisk walk around the block when it’s not too cold.

Read more: Recognize and avoid scams this holiday shopping season

Ceinwen focused on digital privacy, censorship, and surveillance, and has interviewed leading figures in tech.