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As Christmas rapidly approaches, there are some couples and families who are unable to be together at Christmas. Whether one of them is in the military serving overseas, or another at the other end of the country, there are always lonely people at Christmas-time, who wish they could connect with their loved ones.

The Internet has made it easier though for couples and families to connect. Skype and Google Hangouts are the two immediate tools which spring to mind (with something like Spotify Spotify Music Streaming: The Unofficial Guide Spotify Music Streaming: The Unofficial Guide Spotify. Start it up, tell it what song or artist you want to listen to, and you start listening. You can access your playlists anywhere you have an Internet connection. Read More playing in the background to provide some ambience). I will be using Skype to talk to my 88 year old grandmother who is 500 miles away on Christmas Day. But you may decide to start Skype or Google Hangouts in the morning of the 25th and keep it running all day, so the others can see what is going on. We also recommend Appear.in as an alternative Move Over Google Plus Hangouts. Appear.in Is Here & It's Really Good Move Over Google Plus Hangouts. Appear.in Is Here & It's Really Good People have been crying out for a decent video conferencing app for ages. We thought that was Google Plus. We were wrong. Meet Appear.in. Read More .

But obviously there are other tools too you could use to make Christmas a nicer experience if you happen to be separated. Here are five, courtesy of Cool Websites and Apps.

Have A Movie Night With Gaze

This cool site enables you to watch a YouTube video or a video file on your computer together. You connect to the other person by either Facebook, email, or unique link. When that person connects, they see whatever video file you start. It’s a great way to have a movie night together when you are not actually together.

Here is a screencast video from the Gaze site, explaining in more detail how it works.

Organize A Family Secret Santa With Elfster

If you have family scattered all over the country (or the world), then you will not be able to come together for Christmas to give gifts. So Elfster is a site where you can do the next best thing – a Secret Santa.

Each participant makes an account and then links to one another. You then take the browser bookmarklet and add to your wishlist all the things you would like to have. Anonymous questions can be asked to help with getting the right item, and each person’s name is randomly assigned to another person for the purposes of buying the gift. You can set a sign-up date limit and a spending limit as well.

Send Beautiful Greeting Cards With Cartolina Cards

I am personally not a fan of sending cards, but a lot of people are. My uncle for example told me the other day that he sent the equivalent of $40 in postage sending cards to everyone. But instead of spending insane amounts like this (and wasting the paper to boot), why not send an e-card instead?

Cartolina Cards is an iOS app (which costs $1.99), which enables you to send e-cards to whoever you want. You can email it to them, text it to them, or post it to your Facebook page.

If you are an Android owner, there are numerous possibilities. Justin took a look at an excellent ecard alternative called Ink Sick Of eCards? Send Real Cards With Ink By Sincerely Sick Of eCards? Send Real Cards With Ink By Sincerely You probably don't send all of the cards you should, do you? Don't worry, we're here to help. Read More .

Share Your Intimate Feelings In Private With Couple (Google Play Link)

Sometimes you want to whisper sweet nothings into your other half’s ear, but at the same time, not have the whole world see it. That’s where Couple comes in. You may wonder what is different from say WhatsApp or text messaging. Simply put, this app allows you to save things like pictures and videos you’ve saved with each other. There is voice notes, you can draw pictures to your loved one (even draw together!), and what’s even better, you can send a grocery list to your partner!! Now THAT’S what I call intimate. “Get the milk, dear”.

Add a Bit Of Piz-Zazz To Your Christmas Party With Hangouts Toolbox

I know we have mentioned Google Hangouts many times in the past, so this is not a new revelation here in Cool Websites and Apps today. But I wanted to mention it because if you are having a long distance party, Google Hangouts is hands-down the best app for doing so. Simply due to the ease of multiple people joining the party, and also because of Hangouts Toolbox.

Hangouts Toolbox is a built-in feature of Google Hangouts, and which is under continuous active development. To access it, open your usual Hangouts window, run your mouse over the far left hand side of the screen, and a hidden sidebar will suddenly pop out. One of the icons in that toolbar is Hangouts Toolbox. Using the Toolbox, you can put hats on your head, put on weird glasses, beards, have a cake in the screen, and more. Then start the music and get that party started!

If you are separated from your loved ones this Christmas, what will you be doing to try and connect with them? Let us know in the comments below. Whatever you will all be doing, Merry Christmas from Cool Websites and Apps.

  1. Rob
    December 26, 2014 at 3:52 am

    Gaze looks pretty cool actually. I've been meaning to 'spend some time' just relaxing with friends that I haven't seen for a while... this may be a nice option!

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