With the holidays just around the corner, many of us are exploring ways to get creative while practicing social distancing. The holiday dinners and traditions we’ve looked forward to for years may need to be remixed and readjusted, but that doesn't mean we still can't find meaningful ways to connect. Here are just a few ideas to celebrate virtually, because we can always use a little holiday cheer.
Coordinate a Virtual Tasting
If there's one thing that 2020 has given us, it's an excuse to drink. Fortunately, many wine and cocktail brands are available to offer their expertise on their product with virtual tasting experiences that are catered to tastebuds and interests. The Donum Estate in Sonoma, for example, offers various virtual tastings that include their Carneros Estate Pinot Noirs—with intense fruit flavors that are perfect for pairing with holiday foods like turkey and sweet potatoes.
Three Sticks Wines sweeps you off your feet (or couch) deep into wine country with private virtual tastings, including delicious selections of pinot noir and chardonnay, a birds’ eye views of the estate vineyards, and a Three Sticks host to share the history, tasting notes and fun with you and your group—perfect for happy hours, holiday parties, or anytime.
And because bubbly is always a good idea—especially during the holidays—Paris-based sommelier Tanisha Townsend of Girl Meets Glass offers virtual experiences centered around champagnes and other French Varietals. She can even host a themed tasting called This or That, where she selects one grape from two different regions and does a comparative tasting of both.
To venture beyond wine, you can also hire a virtual bartender to teach holiday themed cocktails. Santa Teresa Rum is offering a "1796 Virtual Speakeasy" where renowned bartenders throughout the country—including Meaghan Dorman (The Raines Law Room), Derek Stillman (The Sylvester), and Niko Novick (The NoMad Hotel) among others—can teach you and your guests how to make drinks such as a La Trova old fashioned, hot buttered rum, or ponche crema, a drink similar to eggnog that is a Venezuelan holiday tradition.
Do a Recipe Swap
One of the most exciting parts of the holidays is revisiting cherished family recipes and dishes that keep people coming back for seconds. Have your friends and family swap recipes for the holidays and present them to each other virtually. Can you cook your mom's mac and cheese just as well as she can? This is the way to find out—but of course, don't tell her if it's better.
Book a Virtual Chef Experience
Get interactive in the kitchen by hiring a chef to lead your family and friends through themed dinner ideas for your holiday celebration. Boka Restaurant Group in Chicago, for example, is offering a number of incredible themed cooking experiences with everything shipped straight to your door, including an Oktoberfest Pretzel and Beer, holiday cookie decorating, and a jingle and mingle wreath making experience that includes mulled wine spices and all the items you'll need to create the wreath.
Host a Virtual Bake Off
If the Great British Baking show has been keeping you up at night or you're ready to revisit some of your favorite classic holiday desserts in a group setting, having a virtual bake off is a great way to entertain yourself—and your friends and family. Each participant can share ahead of time what they're preparing, then do their reveal online. Because this is virtual, the experience is less about the taste than the presentation and connection—unless, of course, you have your very own in-house Paul Hollywood to judge. Another fun component to include ahead of time could be to create a theme for the bake off, such as only being allowed to use a list of specific ingredients and seeing what sweet treat people come up with.
Have a Virtual Gift Exchange
Set a budget and pick a date, then draw names for an online tool such as Elfster. Participants can mail the gifts to each other and include the organizer’s name for the return address so that the recipient does not know who their mystery gift giver is. You can do the gift reveal online and then share who And in regard to gifts, for your wine-loving friends, send a special touch with AXR Napa Valley's new Holiday Gift Packages, which include wine packages available for every budget and a personalized note to the gift recipient. For a limited edition gift idea that is sure to evoke warm memories and get your friends' tastebuds going, Salt & Straw head ice cream maker Tyler Malek and Josh Meyer of perfumery Imaginary Authors collaborated on a unisex perfume and candle called Whiff of Waffle Cone. It was crafted to capture the experience of being in an ice cream shop. Chef iQ's new Smart Cooker is another great gift option for the people in your life who love to cook—you can even personalize for them a recipe list on the Chef iQ app of their favorite dishes to cook, just in time for the holidays.
Dance, Dance, Dance
We all have that one person in our family who is always ready to get the party started with some music. Enlist that person, or hire a DJ to spin for your group, including all of your holiday favorite tunes. Ask people to send their requests ahead of time so that no one feels left out, and if the mood strikes, you might all find yourself in a virtual Soul Train line.