Zoom In And Make Memories
Photo / ANYAANYA / Shutterstock
Listen. We know what we need to do. Be responsible, safe and healthy. Stay away from big gatherings and don’t spread the Covid around with our holiday cheer.
It’s a downer for everyone. You feel like you’re flushing all the holiday traditions and missing out on something sacred. No big family get-together. No one cooking a feast in the kitchen while we socialize and spend time catching up.
Grandma isn’t going to see her grandchildren. Auntie Vi won’t be able to hand out life advice.
We don’t get to see Uncle Carl pass out after supper while we play cards.
We can’t see people’s faces as they open that special gift we picked out for them. There’s no chance to play board games or have a few drinks with our loved ones as we close out this year.
Okay. So let’s move on and see what we can do. Christmas is still going to happen.
“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” — Garrison Keillor
Have you considered a virtual party? Let’s look at how this can work out for you so you can still have that get-together.
Pick Your Meeting Platform
Zoom is one of the favorites for video conferencing, and the one I use myself. You can host up to 100 people with it for up to 40 minutes using the free account. If you pay for the upgrade to a pro account, your meetings can last up to 33 hours.
Using Zoom or another virtual meeting client, you will be able to see each other’s faces and hear voices if they aren’t muted. As long as everyone’s internet connection holds up, it works pretty smoothly.
One of the other benefits of Zoom is that it has a phone app. For anyone who doesn’t own a laptop, they might be able to join you using their tablet or phone instead of being stuck in the office or bedroom beside a computer tower.
Do a Test Run
This step is crucial to make sure you have the least amount of problems. Don’t assume you’ll “just figure it out” on go day.
You want everything to flow and be easy. If you want to make your party fun, you don’t want to mess around for hours just to get everyone hooked up to your shindig.
Set up your account and create a few small meetings with some of the people that will be attending your party. You can familiarize yourself with the way everything works and save yourself some real headaches.
Help Older Relatives That Aren’t Tech Savvy
There can be some real challenges for older folk or anyone that isn’t comfortable with online tools. Coaching will be needed BEFORE THE PARTY!
Try setting up a mini party with them the day before the real event. You will have time to talk with them on the phone as they log on and get into the party.
Take pity on your auntie. She won’t get as flustered if she doesn’t think everyone is waiting for her and watching her inevitable blunders.
Have her download and use the program or app with you first. It’s a great chance to connect and make sure they show up to your party too.
Send Out A Fancy Invitation With Detailed Instructions
You can use a free account on a site like Canva, or handwrite a custom invitation and snap a photo to send via text. There are a lot of ways to get that invite out there.
If it’s in an email, jazz it up a little by sending a photo or two.
Don’t forget to send instructions on how to enter the party. In your own words, give everyone a step-by-step guide to make everything seamless.
Dress Up And Decorate
If they can’t see you from the waist down, you might be tempted to go to your own party without pants. This is a bad idea.
Dress up just like it was the real deal. Put a few decorations up so they will be visible in the background. Don’t be that dude who has a big pile of laundry or stack of old magazines visible behind you.
And for cryin’ out loud, always remember you’re on camera! Don’t take the laptop to the bathroom with you no matter what. And let's not even go into the guy who got too friendly with his own junk onscreen during a meeting.
We want this to be a party to remember, but not because you exposed yourself to Grandma.
You’re all set up as far as tech goes, But what will you do at this party? Is everyone just going to sit there staring at a screen? Not if we can help it!
Here are a few ideas to put some action into your special night:
- Ugly sweater contest. In your invitation to the party, ask everyone to find their ugly sweater and wear it that day.
- Scavenger hunt: Have the guests search for items in their location and bring them back to the party. All items must be found on their premises. Here’s a template you can use.
- Use Icebreaker Questions to keep the conversation going. You can find lists online, or check out these Icebreaker Questions For Virtual Parties.
- Play some online games using Jackbox or AllBadCards.
- Games like Yahtzee are easy to play from different locations as long as everyone has dice and a scorecard. You can print off scorecards here if you don’t have any.
- Virtual murder mysteries are a thing! Here’s one site, or how about Murder at the North Pole?
- Trivia quizzes like this one from QuizUp.
- Show and tell — each person finds a favorite (or least favorite)explains their item.
- Dance party — throw on some music and move the furniture, it’s time to groove! Actual ability is optional.
Wrap up: Have a Party To Remember
Even if we can’t gather this year, we can still have some fun and see friendly faces. If you have electricity and internet, you can have a good party:
- Pick the right tech
- Do test runs
- Send out an invite
- Help older relatives to figure it out
- Dress up and decorate
- Plan some activities
- Have a great party!
I hope this article gives you some ideas about how to have a festive gathering, even if it won’t be in person. Happy holidays, everyone!