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Beyond Phone Calls: Activities for Reconnecting With Your Loved Ones

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Rekindling old relationships is a great way to widen your social circle. What’s more, catching up with old friends or family you haven’t seen for a while can be a real mood lifter.

But if you haven’t done much socializing lately, it can be hard to know where to start. Read on for some activities you can suggest doing together — and some tips for what to do if you feel rejected after reaching out.

book club and pen pals
  • Bring Back Being a Pen Pal With an Old Friend

    Who doesn’t love getting a letter in the mail? To get things started, send an old friend a reminder of an experience or event you both shared — like the time you took the wrong bus because you were so busy chatting.

    Say you’ve been thinking of them and would love to correspond more often. Be sure to include all of your current contact information — mailing address, email address, and phone number — so they know how to reach you. Or send a postcard with your favorite quote or poem, or a fun fact you recently learned. Be creative!

  • Start a Traveling Book Club With Your School Buddies

    If you love to read, you probably have some old paperbacks lying around the house. Why not pass them along to a small group of friends? The idea is simple: The person who owns the chosen book reads it and then mails it to the next person. Once everyone is done, you discuss it. This works better with only two or three people. Alternatively, you could all agree to get the same book from the library. (The Libby app lets you borrow ebooks and read them on your phone or tablet.)

game night
  • Invite Former Co-Workers to a Virtual Game Night

    If online games aren’t your thing, rest assured old-school board games like Pictionary or Yahtzee work just as well. Here are some tips for playing them on Zoom or other video chat platforms. You can keep it even more simple by finding some trivia questions and answers online that everyone can take turns reading to the group.

  • Host a Movie Night Watch Party

    Pick a classic film from your childhood and invite your cousins or school friends to watch it with you. There are lots of ways to watch movies together online these days; here are some good streaming options to try. And if you’re uncomfortable with the tech, ask if any of the folks you’re inviting would be willing to help you set it up.

game night
  • Send Your Family Some Old Photos

    Mail or email photos from your childhood to your relatives — it’s so easy to snap a pic of those old prints from your phone. Offer to set up a Google Photos drive for everyone to share their own photos, and schedule a time for everyone to identify who’s in the photos and reminisce about old times.

game night
  • Remember to Manage Your Expectations

    If you reach out to someone who doesn’t respond or turns you down, try not to take it personally. They may be feeling too overwhelmed to talk with anyone and say they’re busy to avoid hurting your feelings. Also consider their personality — some people may accept your offer to take a walk in the park but would have no interest in joining a book group. The key thing to remember is that it may not have anything to do with you or your request.

    As for the people you fell out of touch with because of a disagreement or misunderstanding, experts say acknowledging your part in the situation can open the door to reestablishing the relationship. If the person accepts your offer to do something together, remember to take things slowly as you’ll both need time to regain each other’s trust.

Make Your Plan for Reaching Out

friends playing a game together

Now that you have some ideas for reconnecting with your old friends and family members, it’s time to get started. Take out a piece of paper or journal and jot down the names of three people you’d like to reconnect with, along with an activity to invite them to join.

Name Activity
Nancy from high school Game night

Once you have your list, you’re ready to send invitations by email — or, better yet, over the phone so you can continue to practice your conversation skills.

If you’re feeling nervous, remember to breathe, relax, and tell yourself that reaching out is what matters. There’s a good chance that at least one of the people you invite will say yes, giving you something fun to look forward to on your calendar.

3 Steps for Handling Your Nerves

People who bounce back more easily have learned how to regroup and recover when facing disappointments — and you can too.

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