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Prison Visits over the Holidays

holiday visits blog

Holidays are hard when your man is in prison.  The pain of them being in prison multiplies as families gather.  The empty chair in the room seems to dwarf everything else around it. Visiting is even more critical during the holiday season.  Seeing your husband relieves some of the pressure and pain—even if it is only for a few hours.  You begin to long for the time together and plan the rest of your celebrations around visiting the prison.  But wait!  Most of the prisons are still closed to visits due to COVID19.  Now, what?!?!

This holiday season will undoubtedly be the most difficult. 

Families across the world will not be able to visit their loved ones in prisons, and prisoners will feel the isolation of the separation more than ever before.  While I hope and pray the prison doors will open before the holidays, I also know that most prisons will remain closed to outside visitors until 2021.  If you can visit your loved one face to face this year, that is wonderful!  You will be among the privileged few who get to hug their loved ones this year. For most, a face-to-face visit will be out.

family time covid

This holiday season will undoubtedly be the most difficult. 

So, I want to give you some ideas on how to make the best of the time you will be spending together on video visits during the holidays.  Although video visits can never compare to the joy of being in each other’s presence, they provide much-needed opportunities to see each other.  Even though you cannot get that much-needed hug or share a meal, you will be able to create memories together if you plan.

"The most important part of the holidays is family time — not gifts."

There is a lot you can do to connect in memorable, fun ways during the holidays.  Strong bonds are formed by spending time together and building memories. Make the most of every minute by being intentional and creative. The most important part of the holidays is family time—not gifts.  Every tradition your family has is about building moments that create stronger connections with each other for generations. Do not use prison as an excuse to avoid creating unforgettable memories together.  You need to continue your unique family traditions on the outside and create new memories with your loved one in prison.

Here are some ideas to make the holidays memorable during your video-visits (and you can even modify them to use during face to face visits if the prisons open their doors!)


  1. Send letters and cards in the mail. Real letters will give them something to open and hold onto until they can hold you.
  2. Add pictures, drawings, and fun facts to the letters and cards.
  3. Find games you can play together when you are on your video-visits. The games should have a holiday theme; Name that tune as each take turns humming a Christmas song, Name that Movie as you take turns naming characters in popular holiday movies; Holiday Bingo that you create with activities or themes (cross off a square when you hear a song, see a movie, eat a treat, sing a song, wear something green, red, or blue, etc.)  
  4. Gather your kids/family together for the next video-visit and sing holiday songs together
  5. Have a book discussion on your calls.  Send a holiday-themed book to your loved one in prison, and also read it as a family at home.
  6. Get dressed up in festive outfits for the video calls.
  7. Develop an audible Advent Calendar by telling the Christmas story throughout December on each call until Christmas Day.
  8. Start a Gratefulness Journal together by sharing one thing you are each grateful for during every call. This journal will become a beautiful gift to share when he comes home, and you recall the things you were thankful for during these difficult days you were apart.

These are just a few things you can do to make your Holiday visits special. Some of these will take some planning in advance, but you will be spending time on your family relationships.  Invest the time and energy to build memories together despite the challenges you are facing.

I am rooting for you!