2020 has been one for the record books, and the holidays are not showing any sign of being different. That means every family is looking for ways to connect when traveling may not be possible. Whether there are lockdowns in place or not, the reality is there are significant risks to traveling right now. That means it is time to try to figure out how to still get together without actually getting together. Thankfully there are a lot of options for doing things virtually, and just about everyone is adopting it in some way. Even great Aunt Sally has probably done a virtual doctor’s appointment at some time. Here are some tips for making the most of a virtual holiday when you cannot physically be together.
Choose Your Technology Platform
The very first thing you want to do is choose the right technology platform. What is right for you may not be right for your neighbor, so be open to the options. The biggest thing to consider is how easy it is going to be for the list of people you hope will participate. Some of the biggest providers in virtual meetings right now include:
- Zoom (limited free)
- Facebook Rooms (free)
- Google Hangouts (free)
- Skype (limited free)
- Facetime (free, for Apple users only)
All of these allow for real-time interaction during whatever event you choose to host (dinner, opening presents, etc). Just think through how many participants you want, how long you expect the call to last, and whether you want to record it. All of this will help you choose the right platform capabilities. Then take your few options and look for what is easiest for the most technologically challenged person to operate.
Find The Right Equipment
Sure, you can do the call from your phone, no problem. However, are you going to hold it the whole time? Would it be better if you could see the people on the call on a larger screen like a television? Will your normal microphone be sufficient, or do you need something more robust? I personally recommend at least having a tripod to hold either your phone or your camera. Then make sure you have the right cables to connect everything together. Be sure you do a dry run with one person just to make sure you have everything working properly.
Protect from Spying Eyes
One of the big things the forced virtual schooling has shown us is that online security is something with which we all need to be concerned. If there is a password lock option available, choose it. Just remember to make it easy enough for inpatient people to still input it.
Time Your Shipping
I have done virtual holidays with my parents for several years when we could not physically be together for whatever reason. During these times, we still like to exchange gifts and they like to see the joy of their grandkids opening presents. If you are going to send gifts, be sure to time your shipping or use local delivery options. For instance, you can order from many national chains online and schedule a delivery to be made to your recipient. If you are going to ship, be sure to leave plenty of time for the delays the pandemic has already caused.
Share the Recipes
One of the fun parts of holiday gatherings is food. There’s nothing like a family gathering to get a little bit of a whole lot of good foods that you did not have to do all the cooking. This year consider gathering recipes the family would like to share in advance. You can then either put together a digital cookbook or easily create one to print through Canva or Shutterfly. Everyone can prepare something that appeals to them and come to share their creations.