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Unplug and Embrace the Joy of Spending Time Together During the Holidays

12/18/2014 11:23 EST | Updated 02/17/2015 05:59 EST

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With all of today's digital distractions, it's hard not reach for our devices to scroll through our newsfeed and check the latest update on Facebook. Although technology has the ability to connect us all, one thing technology cannot replicate is that in-person, face-to-face connection that means so much.

I recently wrote about why we need to unplug from our devices from time to time, and if there's one time of year that we really need to heed this advice, it's during the holiday season. It's a time for friends and family, but it seems the joy of togetherness has been lost in the digital abyss. Whether we're checking our phones for the latest work email, Instagram post or scrolling through Facebook newsfeeds, our devices can be a constant interruption and an excuse for not being in the moment.

It's time to take back the joys that time spent together used to bring us before we decided that our every waking moment had to be broadcast to the world.

With today's hectic lifestyles, most of us see our families and close friends less than we probably should. So when we are together it's important, now more than ever, to embrace those real face-to-face moments.

So for this holiday season, I decided to partner up with the most unlikely candidate to encourage putting our devices down; Telus. As a mobile services provider, I was shocked that they would be willing to partake in this type of challenge but in fact Telus is actively promoting putting down our devices and reconnecting with our loved ones this holiday season. Together, we developed these 8 tips to encourage Canadians to unplug this holiday season through its #HolidayMode :

1. Take baby steps and start now

You don't need to do it cold turkey. To avoid device withdrawal, begin by setting small goals for yourself like committing to putting your smartphone on silent over dinnertime.

2. Make a public declaration

Tell your friends (in real life, and online) that you will be unplugging for a bit. Ask them to call you on it if you suddenly start commenting on their posts or sharing pictures of your beautiful holiday dinner.

3. Adjust your notification settings

Turn off push notifications on your devices and apps to stop them from tempting you every time a text message comes in or a friend tags you on Instagram.

4. Delete apps that aren't absolutely necessary

Make it difficult for yourself to get lost in the black hole of app browsing by deleting them right off of your device. If they aren't absolutely necessary (for work, for example), you can do without them.

5. Turn it into a game

Find creative ways to make a game out of unplugging, like getting everyone at the table to stack their phones in the middle of the table during dinner; the first to check their phone has to pick up the tab or do the dishes!

6. Out of sight out of mind

Stash your phone - somewhere safe - but in a hard to reach place. Keeping it out of your reach and sight will help curb the convenience of a quick text or newsfeed scroll.

7. Switch into auto pilot

Let your device do the work for you: set auto-response notifications for your texts and emails. Or, slide it into airplane mode to hold all communication while you're in Holiday Mode. You'll be pleasantly surprised how quickly you forget about your phone.

8. Set expectations with your close friends and family

Last but certainly not least, make sure to tell close friends and family that you will be putting down your device for a while so in case of emergency, to reach you on a land line (yes, they still exist!). That way you won't be stressed that you are missing something urgent, and they'll know how to reach you if they need you.

Follow these tips and you'll be well on your way to reclaiming what was once a guaranteed thing at every family event or gathering with friends - quality time embracing old traditions and building new ones.

What tips would you add? Share in the comments below or using the #HolidayMode hashtag, but only until you're together with your friends and family. Once you are, forget about hashtags, forget about Instagramming meals and status updates - unplug and trade phone time for face time with the ones you love most.