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January 21, 2021 is the 35th celebration of giving hugs across the United States, but this year looks a little different. The typical way to celebrate National Hugging Day is to offer hugs to anyone – even strangers – you come across. This might seem like a strange national day, but the health benefits backed by science shows it has its purpose  Hugging releases oxytocin which has been known to reduce pain. Hugging can also decrease stress and anxiety levels, lower blood pressure, and potentially lower your risk of heart disease. While we are still unable to give physical hugs to family and friends, let alone strangers, 2021 National Hugging Day is causing us to be a little more creative!  #HowIEmbrace is a social media campaign asking you to tell us how you are embracing your family right now. Are you able to physically embrace them? Or maybe you are sending virtual hugs through video chat. What are you and your family doing right now to let them know you’re still there for them?  [video width="1920" height="1080" mp4="https://embracefamilies.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/HowIEmbrace.mp4"][/video] Having a difficult time figuring out how to do that? No worries! We have come up with some ideas just for you! 

1. Virtual Dinner Party 

Have a chain restaurant your family loves to eat at? Maybe you have a favorite family recipe that everyone could make. Schedule a video chat where you can all prepare dinner together and sit around the table to chat as if everyone was there to enjoy. 

2. Start a Watch Party 

Movie nights are always a fun family get-together. Rent the latest release you had all planned to  see in theaters together or watch a family classic to remanence about the good ‘ol days. Pause to  discuss and enjoy not having to share your popcorn with your entire family for once! 

3. Karaoke Hangout 

Who doesn’t love karaoke? I guess we all probably have that one family member who refuses to  take to the mic. Maybe singing alone in a room to a computer screen is just what they needed to  get the courage to take part!  

4. Dance Party 

Karaoke really not your thing? There’s always room for a virtual dance party. Create a playlist in  advance filled with your family’s favorite bops that would cause any person to get up and dance!  Shuffle the hits and get moving with your family through the computer screen.  

5. Virtual Game Nights 

Some of the best family memories can be associated with family game nights. Why not have a  virtual game night? Find easy to play virtual games like Uno, Yahtzee, or even Charades!  

6. Send Video Messages 

Live in different time zones and have a hard time connecting via video chat? There’s an app for  that! If social media isn’t your thing and you want to stay away from SnapChat, try video  messaging apps like Marco Polo to send videos to your family! It is an easy way to connect, stay  in touch, and see the faces you miss so much! 

7. Start a Family Group Chat 

Video chatting not your thing? Start a family group chat! Share photos of little things throughout  your day and easily talk to everyone all at once!  The distance between families does not have to stop relationships from growing thanks to a little bit of technology! Be creative and have fun. Share your stories on social media by tagging us and using #HowIEmbrace in your post.   There are more than 1700 children in Central Florida that are unable to sleep in their own beds due to neglect or abuse and come into foster care through no fault of their own. If you are ready to embrace a family of your own, consider opening your home to a child in the child welfare system. For more information, visit: https://embracefamilies.org/make-a-difference/foster