5 Ways Social Media Improves the Holidays

The holiday season has just begun, and already social media platforms have made my holiday so much easier. Most years I take social media for granted since it has been around since I have been old enough to buy my own gifts. This year, I really want to take the time to thank social media for saving me time and reducing my stress levels during the holiday season, so I have more time to spend with my family and friends. These are five ways that social media has already improved my holiday, and if you aren’t taking advantage of these social media advantages, you should!

  1. Organizing Secret Santa: Have you ever picked names for secret Santa out of a hat? Some people accidentally pick their own names out of the hat, destroying the flow of the process and causing confusion. Others even forget who they picked, resulting in everyone having to pick again. I cannot even remember Capturethe last time I picked Secret Santa names out of a hat, and I would like to keep it that way. My friends and I use a website called drawnames.com. This social media platform enables us to put all of our names into a “hat,” place restrictions on people drawing themselves or their significant others, and send gift lists to each other anonymously. My favorite feature is it even reminds me when my Secret Santa exchange is and who the name I drew was, so I can make sure I will not be the person who forgets to buy a gift.
  2. Finding recipes: There is so much cooking to be done over the holidays. My friends are always looking to organize potlucks and Captureholiday parties, and my family is always asking me to bake something to bring to our gatherings. Sometimes I look at the holiday recipe page on Pinterest, where I can easily read the comments to see if people liked the recipe and how long the creation took the prepare. More often though, I look to my friends on Facebook or Instagram who post pictures of food, then ask them for the recipes to the picture they posted. Recently, my aunt posted a picture of her apple pie, so this might be the next recipe I ask for! Sharing recipes over the holidays is so much easier with social media, and it is a great excuse to connect with friends or family that you have not spoken to in a while.
  3. Saving money: Do you ever hate all of image1 (2)the advertisements you see on social media platforms?  Or all of the
    emails you get about store discounts? You should not hate either during the holidays. Targeted advertisements show me when the item I have been tracking for a week goes on sale, and those “annoying” emails remind me about a sale going on at my mom’s favorite store, so I can get her the item she wanted (now in my price range!). You should never buy anything full price during the holiday season, and social media will help you achieve this if you just listen.
  4. Gathering gift ideas: You do not need to spoil your gift ideas by asking people if they already have something or to annoy them by Capturebegging you to give them a list of the items they want. Looking at pictures on social media platforms can remind you if someone likes to wear necklaces or earrings, or if they already have the shirt you planned on buying them. Many companies are even developing social media-like features on their website where they encourage users to make a “Wishlist.” This Wishlist can then be shared with people who are buying them presents, resulting in an easy buying process for the buyer. For less material gifts, I go Pinterest for gift ideas since Pinterest always has step by step instructions on how to make unique and meaningful crafts.
  5. Spreading holiday cheer: Most importantly, social media is good for simply spreading love around the holidays. IMG_3183Many people use this time of year to post pictures of their family and give thanks for all of the good things in their lives, ultimately spreading happiness and encouraging others to follow suit. We saw this trend on Thanksgiving, particularly on Instagram with streams of people posting pictures with their families or significant others. I had my family take a picture of me setting my Thanksgiving table to send to a friend who lives in Italy, so she could feel like she was experiencing our holiday with us! Being so connected makes the holiday even more special and enables us to document our experience to remember for years to come. (That’s how we can justify having multiple iPhones on our Thanksgiving table.)

If you are against using social media, or feel that it has a negative impact on society, I think you should consider giving social media a chance during the holidays. Social media can take stress out of the holidays and show the good that still exists in society as people come together to spread joy, faith, and hope. Happy holidays everyone! The end of the semester is near.



  1. Awesome post Nicole! I take many of these social media uses for granted during the holiday season. My team recently literally pulled our Secret Santa names from a bag rather than using an online platform like drawnames.com or elfster.com, and we had all of the possible things go wrong: people drew their own name; we forgot someone and had to re-pick names; and now I recently had to struggle through the gift buying process, trying to guess what my Secret Santa would want. In previous years we have used Elfster and it went much smoother! As for the recipe sharing, my sister and I are always looking for new treats to bake, and Pinterest is most definitely our first stop for holiday treat inspiration. We already have a running list of cookies and bars we want to try to back once I come home for the holidays! Finally, I also always love seeing my friends and family’s holiday celebration photos shared on Facebook and Instagram. It is a great way to keep up with everyone during the holiday season!

    A few other ways I use social media during the holiday season include Spotify and Skype. Every Christmas season I find myself listening to my best friend’s Christmas playlist on Spotify because she is the queen of Christmas music. By following her on Spotify, I don’t have to spend hours creating my own playlist for the holiday season. Secondly, as someone who often spends the holidays away from home, I rely heavily on Skype to help my family include me in our traditional holiday festivities. Obviously Skype will never compare to being home for the holidays, but it helps me feel less homesick when I have to spend them away from home.

    Thanks for a great post & happy holidays!!

  2. Thanks for sharing Nicole! I love how you organized this blog :) Honestly, social media and the holidays seem to go hand in hand. The holidays are all about spending time with people you care about most and exchanging love and gifts, and social media makes it so much easier to keep everyone connected, coordinate joint events and make sure everyone is on the same page, and make the holidays as personalized as possible with foods that everyone likes, gifts that are exactly what your friends wanted, and surprises that can’t be ruined because of thorough planning. I love your point about spreading the holiday cheer; my family didn’t do anything too special on Thanksgiving, but the amount of love I received on Thanksgiving because of social media was just phenomenal. I even got to FaceTime some friends with their families at the dinner table :)!

  3. Social media definitely helps me get excited for the holidays! Just the other day I saw a friend post a picture in front of all his christmas decorations which made me eager to begin my own apartment decorations. I agree that social media has a lot of benefits during this time of the year. For example, last year, I only remembered about the Boston Common Christmas tree lighting because of the chatter on Facebook (fyi – the lighting happens this Thursday!) As a result, social media prompted me to have an enjoyable, festive night with my friends celebrating. I do think sharing your experiences on social media is a great way to spread the holiday cheer. As we all know, its important to be in the moment during these times, but I completely agree that social media can really bring a sense of excitement, energy and happiness as we bring in a new year.

  4. I really like your post Nicole! i feel it really resonates with what I used social media in the holidays. In my case, the number one usage – secret santa – has been really helpful, because all of my friends live in different parts of the world, and we are getting together in my hometown this year. We use a different app called elfster, which also reminds you about the date of the gift exchange and you also have the chance to create a wish list, which is great for not having to think that much about buying a good present. I also like what laura says in her comment, of having the opportunity to share events through social media (I am super obsess with the event part of Facebook, where you can see events that are popular on our network or popular in our city) which is really good in summer (for fun outdoor activities) or during the holidays (like the tree lighting or the santa race that is happening next weekend). Finally I really like your last reason about sharing holiday moments through social media, which is really important for me, because my family and friends are in my home country or around the world, and is really important for me to see how they spend the holidays.

  5. I think my favorite part about using social media during the holiday season is getting Snapchats–funny, weird, and anything in between. I got a lot of funny snaps of my friends spending time with their families–moms trying to do the whip and nae nae, moms reading urban dictionary and their reactions, grandparents falling asleep watching TV, etc. Although I’m not there with them, I love that I got to see snippets of what their holidays looked like, and it further spreads the holiday cheer and love. On the other hand, I do think that at the end of the day, it is still about putting the phone down to enjoy time with loved ones who we only see a few times each year. At the end of the day, it is just about finding that right balance–using and sharing on social media appropriately.

  6. Great thoughts! It’s nice to see a post extolling the benefits of social media – it seems to be easier to point out the negatives. I have never heard of the draw names website. It seems like a great way to organize Secret Santa! In my experience, someone always pulls their own name or participants accidentally see the names written on the slips of paper.

    Pinterest is definitely a great holiday resource! I love all of the holiday-themed recipes and homemade gift ideas. Although it can be fun to shop for others, I prefer making homemade gifts. They are more thoughtful and a fun activity, too. Spotify is another great holiday resource. I love the Christmas music playlists! Additionally, on Twitter, the #25DaysofChristmas hashtag links to the schedule for every holiday movie on ABC in December.

    Although social media often gets a bad reputation for creating anti-social behavior, social platforms can be used to connect with loved ones, create meaningful gifts, and celebrate happiness during the holidays.

  7. This is a great post! With the holidays coming up, social media seems to become even more prevalent. You brought up some great uses for social media around the holiday, especially spreading holiday cheer. I spent my Thanksgiving in Tennessee, but I was still able to talk with my family in a different state through social media. Finding recipes is also a great use of social media, because food is especially important around the holidays. I think when we get together with our families and loved ones we tend to put away our phones and enjoy the company. Thank you for writing this post, I can’t wait for the holidays.

  8. Thanks for sharing. This year I had a very quiet and low-key Thanksgiving. I did use social media to chat with a few friends on Thanksgiving day. Thanksgiving prep usually involve my friends and extended family being too busy for a phone call. This Thanksgiving I surely made use of SnapChat, Skype and Whatsapp! I am not against social media, I am just a recent user. I think you did a great job at grouping the different ways social media usage makes the holidays better. The sections of gathering gift ideas and organizing secret santa seems the most useful to me.

  9. Great post! Number 5 definitely has to be my favorite, spreading holiday cheer. I’m a big fan of the holiday season and social media is helping spread it across many platforms. Seeing all the instagrams and snapchats is always fun. This is more spirit related, but social media is finding uses to help us as well.
    The secret santa has been used by many of my friends and me to help organize events. It tries to limit the errors that always make secret santa hard to manage. Its been a lot of fun. Also social media is helping with gift ideas. I’m struggling to find one for some people, but you mentioned pinterest. I’m definitely going to give it a try and see if it helps!

  10. Like of the other comments, I too use Elfster for my secret santa needs! Also, in terms of my thanksgiving dinner (First one I’ve hosted and cooked for), every dish I made was done with an internet recipe – including the turkey! The tough part is that with internet recipes, it’s difficult to qualify them just be reading the ingredients. It becomes really important to read the reviews and ensure that the directions are thorough enough to follow. Too many of the recipes I came upon got me to the turkey in the oven, but didn’t tell me what to do with the turkey once it was in the oven…. I need my hand held by my recipes- so I have to be picky.

    Enjoyed reading your blog, it was so festive! Happy holidays.

  11. Love the post! While I was already aware of some of the tips and tools you mentioned, I was also unaware of a few of them and definitely plan on trying them out. Pinterest is definitely a huge tool to make a lot of aspects of the holidays easier. I use it for almost everything including, recipes, decorations, gifts, outfits, etc. It’s also nice because your can use other people’s “boards” to get ideas for personalized gifts specifically based on their preferences. It’s also really good for discounts and coupons with targeted advertising. While I’m aware now that most of the things that they are on “sale” are actually just lies of how much the product originally cost, it still makes me to feel better that I’m getting a “discount.” Nice job!

  12. Actually, where I appreciate social media the most is when people celebrate holidays OTHER than mine. I enjoy seeing how people celebrate Diwali, Jewish High Holy Days, (or even when people make normal posts on Thanksgiving because they live in Canada). Reminds me that my way of thinking/ doing things isn’t the only way.

  13. I really liked this post. You used great examples that I could relate to because social media always puts me in the holiday spirit. I actually use advertisements and popular tweets as a personal gauge to when it is acceptable to start listening Christmas music because the “after Thanksgiving” deadline is too short of a span for me to listen to such great music. Regardless, the use of social media, especially by companies to take advantage of childhood holiday memories, is something I look forward to every year.

  14. Great examples and points! We also used technology over the holidays to be closer to family. We FaceTimed my in-laws and had them spend some time with our son that way :) I also like that friends make significant announcements over the holidays. Always fun to see what’s new and exciting with those close to you. Thanks and I hope we also see it put to good use over Christmas break!

  15. Nice, timely, post Nicole! I have really been appreciating social media this season for how it has helped me with the giving spirit of Christmas. I have had a few friends leverage social media for support of their Christmas charity projects. I have even been made aware of opportunities outside of my network by friends liking other friends’ fundraiser pages for everything from soup kitchens to book drives for homeless shelters. I think this is a great way to look within our networks and communities to spread the cheer to those around us who might not have as cheery of Christmases.

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