5 Min. Read

One of the questions we all have right now is how to carry on with our family celebrations despite the pandemic. By now, we are months into having friends and family meetings through video calls, but we still wonder how to make something special out of the ones we are about to have.

Here are five ideas for having smoother family meetings and making virtual more human. 

  1. Schedule several small meetings instead of a huge one with thirty people

    There are several challenges you face when planning a video call with more than five or six people: 

–Connection speed tends to slow down

–Some may feel less comfortable to share how they are doing since everybody is always staring and listening

–Guests may talk over each other

Scheduling smaller calls may help with this point and feel less lonely for those who live alone. Suppose you are having fewer people connected simultaneously. In that case, the video and audio connections will be faster, which will help your guests predict better when someone has finished talking and not interrupting each other so much.  

Smaller calls may also help you meet with someone you have not seen or spoken to for a long time. For many of us, the holidays are a moment to meet with the extended family; this would give you the time and space to catch up at ease. Let’s say this is the equivalent of when people leave everybody in the living room and go to the kitchen to talk.

  1. Think of your family members’ needs, so you can plan ahead and find ways to help them

The fact we are used to video calls doesn’t mean it may not be difficult for some of your family members. For instance, grandparents may need some help getting online; if you have someone during quarantine, sending groceries, or leaving a meal on their doorstep would help. This point is also going to become more manageable if your meetings are smaller. If you have to help grandpa with the internet connection on the same day, cook and leave a meal for a cousin, and then drive back home to organize everything for yourself, your day is going to be a hectic nightmare. 

  1. Be flexible (it is going to be different, embrace it!)

Be open to trying calling without the video if it makes the chat more fluid; relax whenever people have to leave the call and come back; don’t worry if someone has the camera off for a while but still is taking part in the conversation. 

One of the good sides of this being or first (and hopefully last) pandemic Christmas season is that, since we don’t’ have many references for how it should be, we can choose how we want it to be. And one of the things we should choose is not being overstressed. 

  1. Do activities simultaneously; there is no need to be constantly staring at the screen

Some of the best moments during family meetings happen in the kitchen, and this Christmas season doesn’t need to be different in that regard. When people are cooking together, they relax, and other topics come up. 

If you are not concerned about paying attention to the screen, you can cook together (remotely) and then share dinner. This could also work if you are wrapping presents or putting on your Christmas decoration, just to mention a couple of examples. 

As with the second point, this also becomes easier with smaller than larger calls. 

  1. Play games

If you are used to playing games like Trivia or Pictionary, there is no reason you should stop that part of the tradition. You can use several internet tools to generate random words for Pictionary, Trivia questions, Charades, or Scattergories

Finally, just remember the most important thing is to have a good time with your loved ones. So enjoy, share what you are grateful for, and make virtual more human. 

By: Ana Maria Enciso – December 2020

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