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The holidays are usually a time for friends and families to come together and celebrate a special time of year. While Canadians are urged to stay apart this year, it doesn't mean you can't be festive with the people you care about.

2020 will be year of forming new traditions – and maybe getting a bit creative with the way we spread joy, light and cheer. Here are eight ways to celebrate the holidays virtually this year.

1. Maintain traditions – online

Your family traditions are personal and meaningful –and therefore important to keep going. Whether it’s lighting a candle, decorating a tree or counting down with an advent calendar, try to set up a date and time to share these traditions via video call with loved ones who can’t be with you in person. Consider adding other sensory elements to your event – like baking the same fragrant dish or creating a shared playlist to have on in the background.

2. Have a virtual dinner party

Leading up to the holidays often comes with dinner parties and open houses. Since you’re not having guests in this year, consider making the same dinner at the same time and compare notes as you go.

3. Host games night

There are lots of games you can play on a video call with friends and family – from trivia to charades, holiday bingo to a holiday-themed scavenger hunt (where each family hides specific items around their homes). Some games might take some pre-planning by the “host”, but it will be worth the bit of effort.

Redeem RBC Rewards points for gift cards for toy stores, the App Store & iTunes, or check to see what offers from great brands are available through RBC Offers, to save when you buy this year’s latest games.

4. Have a gingerbread house-making competition

This season, why not get families together over video call to make gingerbread houses together? Kits are easy to buy at your local grocery store or online. Chat while you decorate and vote on the best (and maybe the worst)!

5. Have an e-visit with Santa

Virtual Santa visits aren’t new this year, but they will be in high demand in 2020. There is a pretty wide range of experiences and prices when it comes to virtual Santa visits, so do your research to find one that’s right for your family. While pre-recorded Santa messages will be available anytime, you may have to schedule a personalized e-visit in advance. Consider putting this high on the to-do list!

6. Have a holiday movie night

If you and your family and friends typically love to gather to watch your favourite holiday movies – or the latest blockbuster – there’s no reason to cut out this tradition while you’re in different locations. While theatres are closed in many regions, many theatres offer the latest flicks and family favourites through their website and app, and streaming services can provide enough selection for a holiday movie marathon.

7. Send a care package

If you love holiday baking, you know one of the best parts is sharing your goodies with others. You can create care packages to be hand delivered or mailed to your favourite people. And if your famous apple pie is too much for your immediate circle, pivot to tarts!

8. Host a Secret Santa exchange

This year, buying gifts for the whole family might not be feasible for everyone. Consider drawing names so you’re just buying for one person. Because there won’t be a physical name-drawing session, someone will need to be in on the secret and share the giver-receiver match-ups.

Use RBC Rewards points to find cheery, lighthearted gifts that fit the bill. You can also get gift cards for as low as 1,400 points!

As you plan your virtual activities this season, be sure to let RBC do some of the heavy lifting for you: