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  • Writer's pictureAli Hoyt

Virtual Listening Session: Holiday Edition!

Updated: Feb 7, 2021

Do you ever think about how scents, tastes and sounds can trigger strong memories? I was reading about this the other day in this Psychology Today article, Making Scents of the Holidays, and it made me wonder... how many of us are out of touch with our senses this year? Many of us are not experiencing the annual in-person holidays parties, caroling, sledding, and other gatherings you love to join this time of year to feel the warmth of togetherness.

This holiday season is a bizarre one. For some of us, we can't be with our families and loved ones during the holidays due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. For others, we're back living with family during the pandemic and in need of a moment of solitude.

My intention is to create a (virtual) space by using my music listening sessions to envelop our senses in the holiday elements we love most: sounds, tastes, smells, and of course... music! I hope this will be an innovative and powerful way to create meaningful connection in families, friend groups, and even in teams -- while channeling the senses that bring back holiday memories.

Whether you choose to tune in by yourself with a good pair of headphones in your bedroom, or in your living room with your family on the couch -- my wish is that you will feel present in the moment.

Sun, Dec. 13 @ 4pm PST / 7pm EST (on Zoom)

(registration is closed as of Sat, Dec. 12, 2020)

Why does this event matter? How is it different from all the other virtual events flooding my inbox lately?

As an events professional the top question on my mind lately has been: How do we engage guests virtually? How do we design an engaging program, and more importantly, how do we leave guests signing off feeling uplifted, inspired, or supported in some way? I've found that we focus too much on how to engage guests with each other, and not enough focus on how to create a space for guests to engage with themselves: their senses, memories and self. My music listening sessions are not about how many witty comments you can contribute to a conversation, or how many connections you can make. Instead, these sessions are dedicated to listening - really listening - to the music, the elements that make up a song, the lyrics, message, and the feelings the music evokes. It may sound so simple, but it actually is quite challenging for many of us to slow down (me included!)

Here's what my listening sessions look like:

  • Grab a good pair of headphones (or if you're joining with a family member then you can each sit side by side with your computer volume clear and easy to hear).

  • Find a good spot to cozy up, maybe bring a favorite pillow, blanket or other comforting item.

  • There's no expectation when it comes to keeping your video on or off.

  • You can stay for as long or as short as you'd like.

  • We'll be playing a curated holiday playlist focused on a few themes: nature, winter, peace, joy, to name a few... and simply sinking into the music.

  • No expectation to engage with others or socialize. If you want to join in the conversation, I'll be dropping information about the songs in the Chat box, and thoughts on why I chose these songs for this holiday listening session.

Now... Ask yourself: Do you have any particular holiday memories that bring you joy? (e.g. certain smells, sounds, songs, places, foods, drinks, etc.)

Then... Ask yourself: What do you already have in your home that can channel these senses? (e.g. Egg nog, mulled wine, a pine scented candle...)

If you want to take it to the next level, I've put together an Amazon List with ideas and recommended items to choose from (click the link to explore the list). I tried to find mid-priced items.

Not sure what to get a friend for the holidays? You could invite a friend to this listening session, and then send them a few items from this Amazon List that you'd like them to enjoy!

If you still need some ideas, here are a few suggestions...

Whether or not you are able to join my listening session, I hope you find space to soak in some of these delicious senses and take a moment (or a few moments!) to engage yourself - especially during this time when we give back so much to others. Give back to yourself.


  • Spiced cider

  • Mulled wine (there are some spice mixes in my Amazon List)

  • Egg nog w/ freshly grated nutmeg

  • Chocolates/truffles (Highly recommend truffles from the small, local NYC chocolatier, Milène Jardine, which I discovered through Five Senses Tastings' fabulous virtual monthly tasting events! My favorite Milène Jardine chocolate flavors are: Whiskey/Sea Salt and Hibiscus/Mint - SO delicious)

  • Chestnuts

  • Evergreen/Pine

  • Fresh baked cookies

  • Gingerbread


I'm not going to spoil the music playlist I'll be playing at the listening session (join to listen, and I'll send the playlist out afterwards!), but... if you want some holiday sounds to sink into, check these out:

1 Comment

Dec 08, 2020

Looking forward to this, Ali! Thanks for planning this special event!

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