7 Ways to Connect to Family When They're Far Away


Family, it’s one of those words that conjures up different images for everyone. Family can be a group of close friends, your blood relatives, or a mixture of both.

For me, it’s the latter but, regardless of what we see when we think of our family, one thing that’s true for all of us is that we miss them when they’re not around.

With the holidays rolling in, a lot of us are going to be feeling this even more but, just because our family can’t join us at the table, doesn’t mean we can’t connect. Here are seven ways to do just that:

1. Gourdy the Traveling Gourd

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This is a neat idea I actually got from a friend. Years ago, when she left for college, her family sent her with a plastic gourd that they had crafted a face onto. They named him Gourdy and asked her to send home updates on his adventures. At Thanksgiving, Gourdy came back to the family and all of his tales were told over dinner.

The tradition stuck and Gourdy actually started going with whoever was going away the farthest each year. I absolutely love this idea and there’s so much you could expand upon. Why not create a private facebook page for Gourdy? Or a youtube channel? What about a snapchat channel? This is really a fun way for the family to connect throughout the year.


2. The Monthly Video Check In

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Okay, so all of us have excuses as to why we can’t speak with each other every week, but what about once a month? Anyone can make time for that. Schedule a video chat out in advance, or have it on the same day and at the same time each month.

There will be occasions where someone has to miss out because of life, but they should be few and far between. If it’s really a problem getting everyone together, why not break it down into small groups. Have one month be just the gals, one just the guys, and another for everyone. There are a ton of ways you can video chat with family. Get on Skype, Google Hangouts, or Tinychat.

3. Tales of the Family

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This idea requires some creativity, but the payoff is a fun, entertaining way to stay connected to family. One person buys an empty notebook and starts off. They use the notebook to write about their life in story form. The goal is to write two to three pages before passing the notebook on to someone else. That person writes their story and then passes it on again.

At Christmas, the book is pulled out and the tales are read. Each year, the book is themed. So, one year the book could be titled Embarrassing Moments, another year you could have Adventures, and so on. The themes are voted on or pulled from a hat during Christmas. You could even do this online, instead of sending a notebook everywhere and you could self-publish your own book at the end of each year. This is a great way for the family to come together and learn about each other’s lives.

4. The Pic Challenge

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Create a group on Flickr (or any other photo site) for your family. Throughout the year, each family member uploads one or two of their craziest, silliest, or weirdest photos. At Thanksgiving, the pictures are pulled up and the family has to guess what the person was doing or where they were when the picture was taken.

The person who gets the closest to the truth is awarded a collage of the images that were taken that year. There’s so much you could do with this. Why not make the prize a blanket with all the pictures printed on it? Or you could do a canvas bag or even a coffee mug.

5. The Family Blog

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Create a blog for your family. You can do this easily through wordpress, blogspot, or any other platform that you’re comfortable with. Schedule posts once a week for each family member until the year is done.

When it’s your turn, write about what is going on in your life, add pictures, or even videos. Really, the possibilities are endless. At the end of the year, your whole family will have something to look back on and enjoy.

6. A Day In The Life Of

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Create a channel on snapchat and assign a family member one day out of the year to do video updates throughout the day. You’ll have to make sure they log into your family’s channel to do the video and that they tag you as well so that you can save the videos for the holidays.

Once everyone has had a turn, start the cycle over. At the end of the year, compile all of your saved videos and send out copies. You and your family will love getting to see glimpses into everyone’s lives.

7. The Hello Package

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I saved my favorite for last. The Hello Package is literally what it sounds like. To start off, one person picks sends out three things: a postcard with a hello message, a small item that means something to them, and an item that means something to the person they’re sending the package to.

The items themselves don’t have to be big and they can be representative of something else, like a keychain with a german shepherd on it or a magnet with a motivational message. The next person to get the package adds to it and sends it on, leaving what they received in the package as well. The package continues to get added to and sent out until the last person receives a big bundle of knickknacks and postcards. During Christmas, the postcards can be collaged and the knickknacks passed around. Then you can start the whole process over again.

I hope these seven tips help to bring you and your family closer. Your family is your tribe, the ones who support you the most and connection with them helps keep you in an emotionally healthy state. Hopefully, this holiday season you and your family will have a few new traditions to try out.

Featured photo credit: wikimedia.org via upload.wikimedia.org

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