Christmas is a time when people get together. Families gather for dinners, offices socialize with parties, and friends catch up during the holiday break. But what do you do when you don't live near the people you love? When your friends are scattered across the country? When you can only visit one side of the family? Or when you can't afford to travel at all? You use social media.
Emphasis on the social.
An easy and fun way to create an enormous group conversation is to schedule a Twitter party. Send out a day and time for everyone to be online, create a unique hashtag that everyone can follow in order to see each other's tweets and get talking. It's a fantastic way for groups of friends living in different states to get to talk to one another at the same time. Or, treat it just like a face-to-face party in your home and invite everyone you'd love to talk to even if the entire group doesn't know each other yet. Your other participants can meet new people just as they would at your house. Don't forget to remind them it's BYOR -- bring your own refreshments.
Facebook Group Chat
Set up a private Facebook group to have an ongoing conversation throughout the holidays. You can share pictures, recipes, and traditions; or, simply gather a little extra support to bolster you if you're having trouble getting through the holidays. The best part of a Facebook party is that people can participate as much or as little as they want, at any time of day since unlike Twitter, it doesn't require the user to be online at a certain time.
Google+ Holiday Hangout
You can have up to 10 people get together and video chat with Google+ Hangouts. Everyone needs to have a Google account and install the plug-in (both free). After that, schedule the day and time, and everyone can meet and see each other as they speak. Get creative: set up your respective computers in the kitchen and bake cookies together, schedule a group sing-along, or have all the young cousins get together for a virtual play date with their respective toys.
Sometimes you don't want a big crowd. Take the time this season to schedule quiet conversations with friends over Skype. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit down in front of the computer, and pretend you're both facing each other at a cafe. It's a great way to feel close when you're far away.
What ways do you have of using social media to feel close to friends and family when you can't travel to see them?
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