By Kathy Rowe

The holidays are coming fast and we need to make some lemonade from the lemons we were delivered in March. The lemons? COVID-19, of course. So let’s make the best of the situation and explore how we can make our virtual meetings and outings entertaining over this holiday season.

Virtual holiday parties and celebrations will be all the rage this year and there are many platforms to choose from, including Zoom, Google Meet and WebEx. By now most of us have learned how to use at least one of these platforms for the purpose of keeping in touch with family and friends over the past few months.

Let’s begin with a few ideas for virtual gatherings. Interactive games can be played virtually by using the “chat ” function on the platform. There are plenty of online holiday BINGO games that you can find by searching “online holiday BINGO templates.” Download the template of your choice and email it to your crew.

A holiday scavenger hunt could also work with your virtual gathering. The game host can name items for the group to share to the camera. Item suggestions could be: your favourite gift of all time, a special holiday decoration, a Christmas CD or DVD. The first person to share the requested object wins a point.

Another idea is to let your group know in advance to wear their favourite ugly holiday sweater. If they don’t have one, they can decorate an everyday sweater. People can get really creative with this one!

For the music lovers, your host could play holiday music in the background. Take it one step further and play “Name that tune” or stop the song part way through and have people sing the next line.

Holiday trivia is another game that could easily be played on a virtual call. Have the host ask a question and the participants have to answer it in the chat.

Food lovers may enjoy a recipe share. Recipes can be shared via email in advance of the virtual meet. Participants can create their recipe of choice and share it on screen with the group. Another idea is to have a cookie decorating contest on screen.

Keep in mind that non-verbal communication like turning off your microphone if you know the answer, using the thumbs up icon or the chat function will work well on these platforms. This will avoid the participants from all talking at once.

Here’s a final tip: those of us who are technically challenged may want to have a virtual trial run before the actual day of the planned online celebration. We all have different comfort levels when dealing with computers and a practice meet for some of the participants may help quell any uncertainties.

I have noticed a couple of holiday drive-through events in the news lately. Close to home is the Bluffs Winter Wonderland Drive-Thru Experience, which will kick off on November 27. There will be over 50,000 lights decorating a one-kilometre path at the foot of Brimley Road. More information about the event and ticket sales can be found at Other locations further from home are: The Pickering Heritage Museum, Casa Loma, Blue Mountain, the Kortright Centre and Niagara Falls. Most of these drive-thru experiences will open toward the end of November and an online search can get you all the information you need.

I wish you success with your holiday celebrations no matter what form they may take.

Stay safe everyone!