The holidays are coming and, just like Thanksgiving, it looks like we’ll be doing all of our celebrating over Zoom. That fact can be disappointing to think about, but there are some definite upsides to marking the winter festivities via webcam. For one, you don’t have to wear pants! For another, you can have a pizza for your holiday dinner! Or create a meal that only features your favorites! And here’s the best part, web conferencing allows you to do what in-person interaction can’t — namely muting your most offensive relatives before they can start drama! See? It’s not so bad!
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Of course, making sure that your holiday goes off without a hitch will involve some preparation. Here’s how to make your online get-togethers merry and bright!
Set Up and Practice Early
You may already be a whiz at Zooming, but your friends and relatives may not be. That’s why it’s a good idea to take some one-on-one time to help your loved ones set up their accounts and check if they’re working. These meetings can also double as some holiday quality time. And if your parents start asking too many questions about your personal life, you can change the subject to trouble-shooting without guilt!
It’s also a good idea to get everyone together to do a tech rehearsal before the big meeting. Schedule a few minutes and make sure everyone knows how to mute and unmute!
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Purchase Extra Time
Zoom lets you hold meetings for up to 100 people at a time for free, but the system will cut you off at 40 minutes with a basic account. Want more time? You can either start a new meeting and invite everyone to log back in (this can be a little unwieldy!) or pay to upgrade your account. For $14.99 per month, you can host that same number of people for up to 30 hours at a time!
Why would you need 30 hours? Well, it’s not a real holiday unless you can all nap together after dinner! Of course, if your family’s a little more contentious, the 40 minutes the basic account offers may also be enough!
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Incorporate Your Traditions
Whether you’re opening presents on Christmas, lighting the candles for Hanukkah, getting together for Kwanzaa, celebrating Yule, or saying goodbye to the old year and greeting the new, you don’t have to sacrifice your traditions just because you’re not meeting in person!
If you’re keeping your gathering to one night, send out an email with a list of options for your gathering. Letting your family help choose how you’ll be keeping the tradition alive even on Zoom can lead to a feeling of togetherness even if you’re thousands of miles apart.
If the holiday you’re celebrating is religious, you can often find a livestream everyone can tune into as a group or instructions for how to modify the celebration for 2020. JewBelong, for instance, offers a free guide on how to fully celebrate Hanukkah remotely — yes, all eight nights!
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Don’t Forget To Visit Santa
The great thing about Santa is that he’s magic — that means he’s everywhere all at once (and also invulnerable to COVID-19, according to Dr. Fauci). Just because he’s not at the mall doesn’t mean he can’t stop by to say hello! And companies like Santa Northwest make it easy to bring Santa — and even Mrs. Claus — into your Zoom meeting! The jolly old elf can even read an entire Christmas story for everyone assembled!
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Learn From Thanksgiving
For many, the celebrations coming in December won’t be the first on Zoom. And if you celebrated Thanksgiving remotely, you probably ran into a few hiccups. Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, consider what didn’t go as well as you’d hoped and try to make some improvements.
Did everyone scream and talk over each other? Consider instituting a rule — for at least part of the meeting — that has everyone mute while one person shares. This is especially good if you’re going around the Zoom updating loved ones about life events. Or have the last person talking call on the next.
Because not everyone has unlimited time, you may also want to create a schedule of events and stick to it. Anyone who wants to stick around and chat after the festivities are “over” is welcome, but it also gives people a chance to leave gracefully once life calls or Zoom fatigue takes hold!
Most importantly: Don’t focus on perfection! Your holiday get-together is a time for love and joy. Sometimes those tiny mistakes make for the best memories!