Enjoy a fun holiday gift swap with friends and family even if you can't be together this year.

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Family celebrating Christmas together with a video call
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It's time to deck the halls, light the candles, and begin the celebrations, but let's not forget the season of giving is about gifts — not germs.

Even in 2020, it's good to get into the holiday spirit, but not at the cost of getting anyone sick. This year, take things virtual with your closest group of friends for an epic night of food and fun so good it's almost like being in the same room.

Celebrating together, but apart, means that creativity and planning are key. Here's how to celebrate with your favorite people without winding up on the naughty list:

Make a guest list

The most important step of a successful virtual gift swap is deciding ahead of time on who wants to participate. Maybe your besties have Zoom-fatigue or are busy that night, so hammering out who can attend is key.

Swap names

Once the guest list is solidified, ask a third party (maybe a parent or partner) who isn't participating in the swap to hand out names to participants, making sure no one gets themself, for a secret gift exchange the night of the party.

Order online, and have your gift shipped directly to your recipient, or support a local bookstore or boutique. Just make sure there is a creative return address to keep them guessing. Be sure to ship with plenty of time for the postal service to make an on-time delivery.

Choose a theme

With enough time for each participant to brainstorm, choose a theme for the night — "Jingle Bells," for example — and have each person interpret that into what type of meal they decide to make for the evening. For a "Jingle Bells" theme, that might be meatballs or stuffed bell peppers, and prepare to be impressed by your friends' creativity when it's time to log on and share.

Alternately, make a food delivery part of the gifting process and surprise each participant with ingredients from Shipt or Amazon Prime Pantry to compile a favorite recipe. Just be sure to note any food allergies or aversions ahead of time.

Craft a cocktail

Before the big night, choose a cocktail of the night so that while apart, all guests are still toasting together. We recommend a festive seasonal beverage like Poinsettias or Rudolph-Tinis, made with just a few ingredients. No need to complicate anything, this is supposed to be fun!

Up the ante by having a custom cocktail topper made for attendees, who can float this edible art on top of their drink for a little extra fun.

Enjoy the evening

The drinks have been poured and dinner is made. When it's time to open gifts, have all guests do it at once, which makes it less awkward for everyone and saves some time, then take turns guessing who it's from. When all the mystery gifters have been revealed, it's time to "cheers" one last time and log off. Mission accomplished!