This holiday season some people will be able to spend it with loved ones in-person. But there’s still a lot that will depend on communication apps like Messenger and Instagram DMs to keep in touch with others. Meta has now announced this year’s holiday-themed features for their messaging platforms and as expected, it includes AR Effects, word effects, chat themes, soundmojis, and holiday cash gifts themes. Messenger Kids will also get the Santa chat experience, holiday games, and AR effects and artwork.

Meta partnered with beauty guru Ashley Strong to bring a snowy AR effect for you to use on Messenger and Instagram video calls. When you blink, you’ll get sparkles and shiny snowflakes from your eyes. You can also freeze the screen by opening your mouth and be like Elsa. Messenger will also have suggested word effects for Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa. And since 2022 is a few days away, you get a New Year’ Eve chat theme with word effects for Happy New Year, 2022, and Cheers.

If soundmojis are more your thing, there are two new seasonal ones to add to your chats. Send the gift and Christmas tree emojis and you’ll hear a special surprise, or at least your recipient will get a “special holiday song surprise”. If you’re sending cash gifts to loved ones through Facebook Pay on Messenger (Android only), you can gift-wrap their gifts. Recipients will get a notification with the message gift wrapped so it should be fun when they “unwrap” it.

Messenger Kids is also getting some new features for the holidays. Parents can send them messages as Santa so kids can have an ongoing conversation with the Santa chat experience. This is available only in the U.S, Canada, and Australia and will stay open until January. For games, they can design their own ugly holiday sweater or play around with the jackalope virtual pet. Lastly, there are also holiday-themed AR effects like a Santa suit, glowing reindeer nose, and 2022 glasses.

Meta is hoping that all these holiday features will encourage more people to spend time virtually on Messenger and Instagram with loved ones that they can’t meet in person. Of course it’s not the same thing as being in the same room with them but in case you don’t have a choice, messaging apps and video calls should be the next best thing.


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