25+ thoughtful and sentimental things you can do {long-distance}

Having a loving, close-knit family makes for an amazing holiday season filled with gatherings, events, and holiday traditions. But, if that family happens to live too far away to visit and celebrate, the holidays can be a really sad time. 11101870_10205794811725947_7682430100245000408_nThis year marks my sister’s first Christmas away from the family now that she’s living in Georgia for a few years, which has definitely been an adjustment for all of us. Normally, we’d be seeing each other a few times a week and enjoying the magic of the holidays together, so it’s been really difficult only being able to Skype and talk on the phone.

Knowing that it’s even harder on her being away from all of us, I’ve been sending her little presents to help her adjust to her new town, let her know we’re thinking of her, and give her something to look forward to opening on Christmas morning when her boys are tearing into their presents. I’ve been searching on Etsy, shopping local craft marts, hunting on Amazon, and have been busy having special presents made up just for her.

In the process, I have found so many great ideas to send to friends and family adjusting to the holidays away. Here are just a few sentimental gifts and ideas you can do to make long-distance loved ones get in the holiday spirit.

25+ thoughtful & sentimental things you can do {long-distance}:

  1. A special recipe or treat they can only get at home. Whether it’s a brand they don’t have in their new town or it’s a secret family recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies, you can send some holiday cheer that they can serve while they celebrate. HoneyBaked Ham Blueberry cheesecake
  2. Send a special ornament from home. Being away from home is hard, but it’s even harder during the holidays when nothing feels the same. Being able to hang a little piece of home on the tree can make the distance feel smaller. I love this one from Hallmark because it can be from all of us. A-closeknit-family-mitten-wreath-ornament-root-1295qgo1629_1470_1
  3. Order a map or GPS unit to help them learn their new town and find places to make new memories for the holidays. They won’t replace the memories of home, but they will give something fun and exciting to look forward to… and they won’t get lost getting there. We went with a GPS unit and programmed it to her new home address and then set some locations, like her husband’s work, as well as the local mall, a wildlife center, a park, and other spots we went to when we visited in the fall.
  4. Make a photo book with special pictures of friends and family. Since we went on so many adventures together before they left our town, and then again when we went to visit them this year, I had thousands of pictures of our families together. Doing up a 2015 highlights photobook from Collage.com made a lot of sense, and hopefully it will help her young boys stay close to all of us while they flip through the book and see all the fun they have had with their cousins. Collage.com photobooks
  5. Give a piece of art from home. We found a map at a paper store that had both our hometown as well as her new town and had everyone from home sign it for them and then we popped it into a frame. That map now hangs in her dining room and she reads the messages to her kids so they know we’re thinking of them. I also like this design from Bombus on Etsy that is a much simpler piece to frame and ship. Il_570xN.285585067
  6. Friendship necklaces. Since my sister and I both love jewelry, I had surprised her with a few matching necklaces before she left that she could choose from so she always knew how loved she is. We both added charms that represent our kids, and then we added charms from each other’s state – Washington for her, Georgia for me. Now I send her charms that she can add to the necklaces and update them however she wants. I really, really love these pendants from theHOMETOWNhaven. Anyone want to get these for my sister and me? Il_570xN.682613884_bu56
  7. Set a time to Skype while you participate in a family tradition. Whether it’s hot cocoa by the fire, a spin on the holiday carousel, a tree lighting, or something else special, the magic of a smartphone makes it possible to make memories together… even though you are in different states.
  8. Create a canvas from a special picture and send it to her. I love all the options for canvases at Collage.com where I could choose from tons of options and even add text to create a special picture for her to hang up. The result was a gorgeous piece that will be cherished all year long. Collage.com canvas
  9. Start a book club. Read a book and then send it to her so she can read it and discuss it with you. It gives you something current to talk about and helps you feel closer, and it’s a great way to encourage “me” time even though they are busy adjusting to a new home.
  10. Or maybe a movie/TV show club. My sister and I watch lots of the same TV shows and even though we’re apart we make a point to discuss them with each other after we watch them, just like we did when she was at home. So, for Christmas I gave her a few seasons of the show on DVD so she could watch them again and again.
  11. Or maybe a game club. There are tons of games you can play remotely, whether they are on your computer {like Minecraft} or through your favorite game console, and playing together is a fun way to feel close.
  12. Send a hat, scarf, or shirt from a favorite local sports team. Let her represent her hometown and show her team pride so she’s not as sad that she’s missing games. How cute is this scarf from CreationsbyTerra? Il_570xN.646844959_sc71
  13. Matching toys for the kids. Send her kids the same toy you got your children so they can play with them and think of each other. Or, better yet, let them Skype and play together with their toys so it feels like they are in the same room. 
  14. A special mug or tumbler. Find something she uses every day and send her a new one that she can use and think of you. A mug for a coffee drinker, a tumbler for someone who always has water nearby, a pen for a writer – the opportunities are endless! I adore these mugs from TickedTealBoutique. Il_570xN.588429230_3ry1
  15. Send some flowers or a holiday centerpiece. Even better if it’s something she can plant at her new home after the frost so she can have something in her garden from you.
  16. Download an app that helps you keep in touch. Whether you go with a well-known social media site like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram or you find an app where you play a game or take pictures together.
  17. A personalized pillow or photo blanket for her new living room. You can put a special message, a picture, or just about anything on a picture pillow or blanket from Collage.com and it will help make a house {especially a temporary house} feel more like a home. Plus, it gives something to hug when you need one the most. Collage.com blanket
  18. Send some kids artwork and letters. Kids love Pen Pals, so why not have them send letters to their far away cousins and aunts? Getting a letter in the mail is a special treat I grew up with, so I love that my kids now can get mail from family far away to keep in touch.
  19. Make it smell like the holidays. From candles that smell like special cookies you make together to a beloved perfume your mom always wore, scent evokes strong memories and can help her feel at home.
  20. Do a long distance photo shoot. These frame pictures are super popular, and a good solution for when you can’t be together but you want to be in the same picture. A little bit of Photoshop know-how is required, but it’s actually rather easy to pull off. As for the frame, you can either mail one to her {which she can then use to frame the print}, or you can each pick up the same frame at a retailer to do the picture. C3abf6b40f604f43a8dab9a2ba72c747
  21. Order a frame and have it shipped to her with pictures. I ordered a huge frame from Amazon, and then just ordered enough prints to fill it and had them delivered right to her home. All that was left for her to do was pop the pictures in the frame and enjoy.
  22. Have a holiday meal shipped. She may not feel much like making a big dinner if it’s just her small family, so you could have a meal brought to her the day before and she would just have to heat it up on the day of. It’s not grandma’s recipe, but it’s better than PB&Js.
  23. Send a special advent calendar. Fill it with candies she loves, a few small things for the tree, and even some smaller presents she can open each night leading up to the holidays. You can even order Advent Calendar bags from Etsy sellers like StellasTreehouse. Il_570xN.828450506_ppyw
  24. Make a “bad day fix" kit. Start with a box that she can put pictures of friends and family at home into, and then add special notes, little keepsakes and jewelry, and then add funny sayings, inside jokes, and souvenirs from your travels. Having it all in a box will make it easy to get at when she just needs to feel closer to home but put away so little hands can’t get into it.
  25. Create a mixtape… or a playlist. Whether you go with holiday classics or you choose music you enjoyed together, having a mixtape/CD/playlist that makes them smile will make everything more fun.
  26. Bonus: Set a time for a visit. The holiday away will be much easier on everyone if you can at least have a date set to see each other again. Whether it’s a few weeks or even months or years, just having the date set goes a long way.

25 sentimental and thoughtful long distance gifts
Do you have other ideas you love to help make family feel close during the holidays?

Leanne Signature

4 thoughts on “25+ thoughtful and sentimental things you can do {long-distance}”

  1. Have a Holiday meal shipped is such a good idea! I also like the Send a special advent calendar. Advent calendars are so much fun to do with the kids.


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