If cooking is your forte, prepare a cookbook that your loved ones will treasure - and one that may last for generations. This is a great way to be able to carry over traditions that are true to the family. Furthermore, when they come to use your recipes to entertain family and friends, they likely do so as a desire to stay close.
2. Create an audiobook
If you don't get to see your grandkids enough, make a recording of yourself reading a favorite's children's book for a niece, a nephew, or a grandchild. This is an especially good idea if you live miles apart, or if you're leaving for a long business trip or a hospital stay. You can also end the message by leaving a sweet good-night message for the child.
A scrapbook is a great way to let a loved one into your family's daily life. Include Polaroids, postcards, newspaper clippings, travel brochures and handwritten anecdotes you've collected over the course of the year.
4. Create an online photo album
For computer-friendly family members who are far away, create an online photo album. You can do so on sites like shutterfly.com, or snapfish.com, adding pictures from birthday blowouts, weekend trips, and impromptu dinner parties. This will give them a good idea of the names of all the friends you regularly mention over the phone. You can also share personal video clips of special occasions on sites like vimeo.com and dropshots.com.
If you've moved into a new home, create a video tour of your house, showing folks around room by room. Describe to them how you've decorated and where all the furnishings came from. And if you received a housewarming gift from the video recipient, be sure to point it out to them.
6. Embark on a joint project
Do you and your loved one share a similar hobby, why not embark on a joint project? For instance, if you and your mother share a passion for crochet, you could make a blanket together. In case you're wondering how this may work, select a pattern and yarn, then trade off on the job every week or two. Another idea? Work a tough puzzle together. When one of you gets stumped on a crossword clue, mail it to the other, until eventually, you have completed the whole puzzle together.
Mail each other books that you've read, with your thoughts, insights, and analyses written in the margins.
8. Know someone who is notoriously bad at responding?
When sending a letter or a postcard, try to include a blank, stamped postcard addressed to you. This should entice even the laziest writer to scratch out a response and drop the postcard in the mail.
Create the experience of hanging out together via the internet: Brew a fresh pot of coffee, toast a bagel and settle in for some good conversation and caffeine over Facebook or Skype.
10. Ritualize your visits with good friends
Making time for one another can get difficult. So choose one day a year and plan to get together on that day every year no matter where each of you may be stationed.
Each month of your photo calendar feature a different image of the two of you together at one of your favorite places, or celebrating a holiday that you had had that month. It's a great opportunity to highlight special occasion, including your anniversary, your children's birthdays - marking the dates you have planned to spend together.
12. Write an old-fashioned paper letter
And with it include souvenirs from the experiences that you and your partner have shared: photo-booth pictures and concert-ticket stubs.
Send seeds or plant cuttings to your partners, and share photos as your gardens grow. Even though a plant is no stand-in for a partner, it's still nice to shower attention on a living thing - and it also serves as a vivid metaphor for keeping a relationship in bloom.
14. Set up your own personal video-conferencing system
This is a great way to stimulate the feeling of a face-to-face conversation. All you need is a webcam, install conferencing software, and start getting your lover's stories in living color with hand gestures, smiles and all.