95246659 How to use the web to keep connected to what matters over the Christmas holidays

We’re heading into a week where we should be far from work – and that much further from the web. The workweek is going to be virtually non-existent the way the calenday plays out, and that means you can start the week by connecting better with those close to home: loved ones such as family and friends.

But what about those that may be close to you in spirit, but not so much in proximity?

The Internet has bridged the gap across the miles, which is especially useful during the holiday season. There are apps and technological advances that are available to you that will allow you to keep connected to those that are close to you – even if they aren’t within a short distance.

Of course, we all know about Facebook. But I’m talking about the less obvious options. I’m also talking about using some familiar options in a way that falls “outside the box”. All of these options serve to help people connected both across the miles – and even closer to home – during the holiday season.

Ultimately during this time of year what matters most is the people we spend it with. Not the things we receive – or even the things we give. The things that matter most over the holiday time on people and the web can serve to help keep those important things close to you at a time when it out of the most.

If you’re not sure how to connect with those people that matter most to you during this time of year, here are a few suggestions for you to consider.

The video holiday card

Trying to get holiday cards gathered up for everyone that you know – both online and offline – is becoming more and more of a challenge. And while it is nice to send a unique card to every single person that you know, it is no longer really practical – or cost-effective.

That’s why you might want to look at sending a video card this year instead. That way you can send it to everyone (and anyone) that you want to share the video with, and it gives you the opportunity to send a card to literally everyone you want.

It doesn’t really matter what platform you use, whether it’s the more traditional choice of YouTube or the lesser-known Vimeo. The important thing is that you do it, and then you grab the link you can use to share. Then simply share that link in an email to those you want to send it to, or on any one of your social networks (perhaps the more close-knit Path would be ideal for this). The best part about doing a video: you can create several different varieties. Produce a family-based message for family members, and perhaps a less personal one for those of your online contacts you’ve never met face to face. The only cost to you is time.

And it’s that time fostering connections that is time very well spent.

Here’s an example of a holiday video card, as created by Jean MacDonald.

This can also work for audio, as you can record the family around the piano (or similar analog or digital instrument) and then post the final results to SoundCloud. Then you simply share the link with those you want to reach out to on Facebook or through email and you’re all set.

Cloze

Cloze offers a bit of a different approach to personal connection. While it is still in beta, it is a web app that allows you to focus more on the people you want to connect with than with the platforms that you’re connected with them on.

The app gives you an all-in-one view of all of the ways you can interact with those you’re connected to online. You can set specific people as ”targets” by pinning them, meaning that you can signify that you want to work on fostering your relationships with them. The best part about Cloze is that you can communicate with them all in one place. That means that fostering relationships becomes something you can do in one environment. No more checking for emails or browsing social networks. Cloze allows you to stay connected in one place, and by staying in one place you have a better chance of avoiding being distracted. And distractions often result in disconnection.

Path

Of all the social networks out there, Path is by far the most intimate. You are limited to the number of friends you can have, and for that reason it almost lends itself to be a private sharing outlet more than anything else. In fact, Path users can you share their more “personal” moments there rather than on Facebook or any other social network.

Available for both the iPhone and Android devices, Path has become a place where I share some of the things that I simply won’t share anywhere else. You can ask family members or friends to join or connect with you there, so you can keep connected with them over the busy holiday season. Last year it was the first place where I shared my holiday moments, as Path gives you the option to both share ideas, thoughts, music you’re listening to, photos you’ve taken, and where you are. You can also get a quick list to see who’s paying attention to what you’re putting out there. And this is all done within a small circle of connections that you establish.

Path isn’t going to be for everyone. A lot of people are already feeling the drain of belonging to too many social networks. But if you’re looking for a close knit group of people to connect with, then Path may very well be the best choice for you.

As you can see, there’s no reason to panic if you haven’t got your holiday cards out on time – or if you have enough to go around. There’s also no reason to think that you’re going to become disconnected from those you care about during this time of year. Just by using any or all of the above, you might just have the best chance of having the most connected holiday experience you’ve ever had.

Of course, don’t forget to stay connected with those around you, too.

Image Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images