7 Ways to keep in touch with family over the holidays

Nov 30, 2009 at 7:36 p.m. ET

While family is a big part of the holiday season, the truth is that many of us are away from our loved ones, or at least a few of them, over the holidays. Missing out on a holiday meal with your grandparents or an eggnog toast to your recently engaged cousin doesn't mean that you can't share holiday cheer with them. Here are a few tips to help you stay in touch with your family and friends during a busy holiday season.

Woman on phone in front of a Christmas tree

make an appointment  

As silly as you might feel typing "call home" into your Outlook or Blackberry calendar, setting aside some time to speak with your family is crucial. Once the rush of the holiday shopping, partying, eating and guilt-induced exercising hits, it's easy to miss opportunities to talk to your loved ones if you don't carve out a special time for it. If your family members are equally tech savvy, send them a calendar invite so you'll all have the same talk time on your schedule.

Round up the whole family

  If you're with only part of your family over the holidays, call family members who are not with you as a group. Carols via speakerphone may sound cheesy, but they go a long way with anyone spending the holidays away from home. Or, send Grandma and Grandpa a webcam for Christmas and set up a time to video chat. This is a great way to keep in touch throughout the year and let faraway relatives see their newest grandkids, nieces and nephews.

Prepare family recipes

Keeping the family connected doesn't have to be a literal chat or face-to-face. Fix a few of your favorite family recipes, even if they're not specifically holiday dishes, to give yourself a taste of home while you're away. If you have children away at college, or even grown kids with kids of their own, send them some of your family's traditional Christmas cookies.

Send a mass text

  If your family is so big that individual phone calls might mean you'd be on the phone until New Year's, then send out a mass text message to your brood. Make it as personal as possible by including a family saying or inside joke.  

Send holiday cards

  Include a personal note with each card you send so everyone in your clan knows how much she means to you. The great thing about cards is that you can write and address them before the holiday rush and simply drop them in the mail during the holidays. 

Expand your definition of family

  Your family doesn't have to be blood related to count. If you're spending your holidays with friends, let them know how much you appreciate them. Getting together with several families who can't be with their relatives during Christmas helps fill the void for everyone.   

Share an activity

  Even if you're far away, you and your loved ones can partake in the same activity or tradition. Agree that everyone will bake your grandma's pumpkin pie recipe, volunteer at a homeless shelter on the same day or pack gifts for the troops. Afterwards, organize a group chat and talk about the experience. It'll almost be like you did it together.