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5 Holiday traditions to make you feel closer to distant family

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

These technologies make holiday traditions with distant family possible, and fun

Holidays are notoriously difficult if your loved ones are far away. With a little technology, though, you can make them seem closer to home this holiday season.

Go ahead and start your new holiday traditions by customizing a technology platform that works for you and your family's tech comfort level.

Send a YouTube greeting

If you don't already have a YouTube account, get one by logging in through Google. You can start your own channel with one click on the homepage, and you can send channel invites to far-flung family members. Then, upload video greetings of all varieties for your loved ones to view this holiday season — including thank you greetings, gift opening greetings and even a rendition of a favorite Christmas carol.

Better yet, offer to curate videos for the whole family on your channel. Sisters, brothers and step-grandmothers can send you their videos to upload, so everyone can feel involved in the video love.

Share your Tinybeans

Tinybeans is a new journal app that allows you to share images and videos of your children with a select few people on a secure platform. It's kind of like Instagram or Facebook, except it's more secure and more user-friendly for grandparents whose only involvement with tech is an e-mail account.

Even if family members are a little reticent about the interface, you can turn your uploaded images into a linen-bound photo album gift with just one click, and then snail mail the book to your tech-averse loved ones.

Get silly with apps

If you've ever played Words with Friends or Draw Something over your phone or tablet, you know how fun it is to play tech-enabled classic games with friends and family. It doesn't matter if they're not in the same room. Plan a game night with long distance loved ones by downloading the apps for holiday revelry.

Another idea? Snapchat isn't just for sexting, guys. Use the app to have a family costume contest for the best Santa, reindeer or Thanksgiving turkey. Since Snapchat deletes photos after seven seconds, your family members can't use your Santa photo as blackmail in the future.

Have face time with FaceTime

Or Skype. In fact, FaceTime and Skype are the best ways to meaningfully connect with loved ones this holiday season, since both allow real-time conversations where users can actually speak face to face. Not sure what to talk about? Just open gifts together.

Read a book

What could possibly match story time for a fun family tradition? The app Kindoma now makes it possible for loved ones to read stories from a distance, including favorite holiday books. Just encourage your loved ones to get an account, so they can read your child's favorite book before the lights go out on Christmas Eve.

Tell us: How do you use technology to bring your loved ones a little closer during the holidays?

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