Dear Miriam | Do Virtual Events Require Gifts?

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Dear Miriam,

A friend invited me to join her family remotely for one night of candle lighting last week. It was a lovely 20 minutes, and I was glad to be included. If I’d come to their home, I would have brought a small gift for hosting me. Should I send them something now?


Virtually a Guest

Dear Virtually,

A year ago, it would have been impossible to imagine sending someone a host gift for not hosting you. Now, any opportunity to thank people or tell people you’re thinking of them or appreciative of them, is both appropriate and necessary for us to maintain our social connections and our sense of social order.

Sending a handwritten card would be lovely because getting mail is fun, and this shows a personal connection as well as some effort on your part. It doesn’t need to be long or effusive; even a postcard that says “thanks for including me” would be perfectly sufficient.

Another option is an online donation to a local charity. In a year where so many people are suffering in so many ways, giving to a food bank or to frontline workers or to families who can’t afford holiday celebrations is a way to show appreciation for what you have. Frankly, even if someone didn’t host you for a virtual candle lighting, I would recommend making a donation to people in need right now.

You could also send something similar to what you might have brought in person. You can get basically anything delivered right now, though some methods may take longer to arrive. Sending wine or flowers or baked goods would all surely be appreciated.

Even if in a normal year these items seem too familiar, or you’d want to know more about their tastes before ordering, right now, people are seeking comfort and beauty and things that arrive at their house without them having to go outside to get them, and it really is the thought that counts. Wherever possible, order from a small business so that your dollars are also supporting people in your community who are especially hard-hit right now.

Finally, though you have a specific family in mind for a particular reason, as long as you’re gifting, think about who else you know who might appreciate a little token right now. Send a letter, drop off some freshly baked bread, surprise someone with a succulent. Everyone is seeking connection right now, and you barely need a reason to say, “I’m thinking of you.”

Be well,



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