The holidays are obviously going to be much different this year. As most of us have already experienced with Thanksgiving, taking advantage of the multitude of digital tools out there that keep us connected with our loved ones has been the best way to keep the holidays alive this year. Since we won’t be able to celebrate Christmas and all the other holidays normally this year, it’s time to start planning some digital festivities to keep the positive spirit up!
First, choose a good medium to use to connect you with your loved ones. As most of us know at this point, Zoom is one of the best platforms for video-chatting with multiple individuals at once, however, for most users they’re limited to a 40-minute time-stamp for video calls which then prompts users to create a new room and send out the link again. On Thanksgiving, Zoom removed the 40-minute limit so that families could talk for an unlimited amount of time, and while they will likely do this again at some point for Christmas, there are other platforms one could easily use too.
Google Meet doesn’t require any additional software to be downloaded onto your device, you just need a Google account. FaceTime also allows for over 30 individuals to be in a call at once, so if you and your loved ones all own Apple devices this is another great option for you to connect.
Next, make a nice set up for your device. Chances are you don’t want to spend the whole night sitting at a table or desk and talking with your family, so set it up in a comfortable spot in your home that makes it feel as though your entire family is in the room with you. If you have a smart TV or streaming box of any kind, you likely will be able to stream your device’s screen onto the television. By setting up your computer where the TV is as well, it will seem as though your entire family is at the center of your space.
If you’re alone for the call, or can manage it with multiple people, wear headphones for the call. This way you’re able to move throughout your space and still hear everyone clearly, assuming you own wireless headphones. Additionally, most video-chatting platforms work better when the users wear headphones in terms of audio feedback.
For most platforms, when one individual is speaking, everyone else’s mics are typically muted, so sometimes the audio can sound really choppy when multiple people are trying to speak at once. If everyone’s wearing headphones, this problem is much less persistent.
Make it a full on event and sync up a cocktail hour, appetizer, and dinner time with your family. By having and sticking to a schedule, it will really feel like you’re all together and celebrating at once. If you want to take it a step further, try to sync up the entire menu so that everyone is eating and enjoying the same meal. This is a great way to keep any holiday traditions alive in terms of the meal and what you and your family tend to create together.
Finally, have fun with it. Maybe set up some digital holiday games that everyone can enjoy within their living rooms, or set up a secret Santa drop off so that everyone can open their gifts to one another on screen in front of the individuals who got them the gifts. Just because our holidays are looking different this year doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice any of the joy and spirit that makes this time of year so magical.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.