The holiday season will look different this year. Some of us may not travel the way we usually do. Others may limit or entirely avoid large gatherings with families and friends. Many of us will have to budget more carefully, possibly giving up some of the things we are used to having. In short, the traditions we look forward to every year will have to be adapted, sometimes in big ways.
Changing traditions can make us uncomfortable because traditions are important. Maybe making hand turkeys at Thanksgiving or drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve seems frivolous, but traditions play an important social function. They help us feel connected to our loved ones and help us pass on our values to younger generations. They give us rest from the pressures of day-to-day life, reduce stress, and give us time to reflect.
The importance of traditions is exactly why it is worthwhile to find ways to adapt your holiday celebration this year. Of course, it’s easy to say traditions must adapt, but much harder to actually know how to change them. So today the TracSoft team brings you suggestions for how to celebrate a virtual holiday with your loved ones.
Prepare For Virtual Socials
Celebrating a virtual holiday requires a different kind of preparation. Maybe your family members are tech wizards and you have the smartest house on the block. But if that doesn’t sound like you and your family, then here are some ways you can prepare for a successful virtual holiday celebration.
Test Your Wifi
To make sure your celebration goes smoothly, start by testing your wifi. Is it ready to handle video calls from multiple people at once? If not, one of our favorite YouTubers, Liron Segev, has a whole playlist of ways to make your wifi faster and more reliable. Or if you think it’s time to upgrade, BroadBandNow.com has a whole list of deals from different internet service providers who are offering discounts this holiday season.
Choose A Video Chat Platform
Next, choose a virtual chat platform that is easy to use and widely available, such as Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts. You might even want to test out a few platforms to see which one best suits the needs of you and your family. Then, make sure everyone has an account and knows their login information.
Turn Your Home Into A Set
Consider where you will position your devices during important events like mealtimes or gift exchanges. You might want to shift furniture or use books to clear a viewing area and place devices at the right height so people on the other end of your call can see as much as possible. And don’t forget to consider lighting!
Use Tech To Adapt Traditions
It’s hard being socially distanced from family and friends during important times of the year. But during your virtual holiday, take advantage of the distance to create new ways to connect.
Since everyone attending your virtual holiday will be making their own meals, why not turn mealtime into a friendly competition? See who can find the most interesting-looking potato, the largest ear of corn, or the best pumpkin while doing holiday shopping and share pictures of them before the meal. Or have a cake or pie-decorating competition. This takes the emphasis off of not being together and focuses it on the fun of the unique meals your guests have made.
Take A Virtual Family Outing
Back in April, we shared the post “Fun From Your Couch: Great Boredom Busters For Quarantine,” which had suggestions for how to stay entertained during quarantine. One of the most popular options for many users was taking a virtual tour of a famous museum, amusement park, or zoo. There are dozens (hundreds?) more places you can visit together now since more of these venues have set up virtual tours as part of their regular marketing.
Play Games Online
Another popular suggestion from our “Fun From Your Couch” post was playing virtual board games. Sites like BoardGameArena or Tabletopia let you play real board games or assemble puzzles with family virtually using your PC, Mac, or mobile device. There are old favorites like Sorry! or Monopoly, as well as exciting new games to discover. If you’re not sure where to start, PCGamesN.com has a list of the best online board games of 2020.
Watch Holiday Favorites Together
One of the most popular traditions for many American families is watching favorite holiday movies. Whether you love the Rankin/Bass stop-motion films like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town or you’re more of A Charlie Brown Christmas fan, you can enjoy holiday classics with your family using apps like Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party), Metastream, or Watch Party. These browser plugins sync your video and let you chat with your family as you watch, so you can all hear Uncle Phil’s weird jokes at the same time like always.
Be Creative In Preserving Memories
One of my grandmother’s favorite parts of family get-togethers is the artifacts of previous holidays. Whether it’s ornaments we brought home from school or favorite decorations we’ve had forever, these physical reminders of holidays past are important for putting us in the holiday mood and preserving our family history.
Of course, it will be more challenging to preserve our memories this year. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done or that it can’t be fun! Consider making a holiday family photo album and have something you can look back on year after year. You can do this by using cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox, but there are also apps specifically for creating albums and they will give you more functionality. Shutterfly is one of the most popular options, but as our blog post Photo Sharing and Photo Organizing Tips For The Holidays shows, there are lots of great options to choose from.
Don’t Forget Elderly Family Members!
The holidays can be a lonely time for people. Many elderly people are especially vulnerable to loneliness, particularly when they do not live with children and grandchildren. This year, older people are even more vulnerable, as a study from June showed that loneliness doubled for older adults during the first few months of the pandemic.
Make sure to set aside time to help older family members get comfortable with the technology you will be using during your virtual holiday. Don’t let technology be a barrier to their participation in family traditions. You might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can definitely teach Great Aunt Sally to Facetime.
You might even consider special technology for older family members such as the GrandPad, a tablet with limited functions designed for older adults. They can use it to make voice or video calls and send and receive pictures without a social media account. It’s a great way to keep grandma and grandpa connected every step of the way.
Virtual Holidays: Different, But Meaningful
Your 2020 holiday celebrations will be different. But at their heart, traditions are about connecting with people we love in order to strengthen our bonds. Just because you are not physically with your loved ones, that doesn’t mean your holidays can’t be meaningful. It just takes a little more commitment and creativity to connect.
From the TracSoft team, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving! 🦃
Are you looking for a way to improve communication within your company? Does your business need a solution for sharing files and transferring data? Contact the TracSoft IT team to learn about network management and app development services that speed up processes, boost productivity, and keep all your team members on the same page.