This has been the year that has changed the way we live forever and in true 2020 fashion, it continues to create challenges and unknown circumstances as we enter the holiday season. As a collective, we have all learned how to do most in-person activities remotely. Having done this for the last eight months, we are well versed in video conferencing, thus amply prepared to host our virtual holidays. Beyond the mechanics of hosting a video call, there are a few things we can do to make sure that the meaning and connection we feel during the holidays is not lost in the distance.
Eat together and eat the same meal
As we sit down to enjoy the holiday meals that we would normally have in person, most families will be using a video feature, like Zoom, to connect with extended family. But the physical distance doesn’t have to mean emotional distance. When you sit down to enjoy your holiday meal, plan ahead to make the experience the same for everyone, such as eating the same foods and using the same place settings, so everyone is having the same experience together. “Recently when celebrating a family birthday over a video call, we all coordinated ahead of time to eat the same cake, a chocolate cake. It was really nice because we were all eating the same thing and we could talk about how it tasted, the texture and the normal things we would if we were in person. If you are eating the same food, the meal feels so much more connected, similar to actually being at the same table.” said Shirmattie Seenarine, Director of Communications and Technical Publications at Deltapath. Sharing meals together builds and strengthens relationships, and is something we can do together even if we can’t be sitting at the same table.
Play games together
Often times when we gather with family and friends we play board games, cards, or even video games. The good news is that many games can be played virtually and be just as fun, if not even more fun. Some games such as trivia are easily done over video calls without planning ahead, others require minimal preparation. Games like Heads Up and Scrabble require everyone to download the game ahead of time and creating user names to easily request the other players. Charades is an interactive and fun game that gives each player the spotlight to act out phrases or words while your teammates try to guess. Using platforms such as Zoom makes it easy to divide your participants into teams and change the spotlight to the person acting out the charade. Zoom will also remove the 40-minute time limit on its free meetings for Thanksgiving Day, meaning you and your family can play games for hours – or until someone gives up!
Virtual gift exchanges
The holiday season is the time for gifting and sharing, most retail stores are operating online making it easy to host a virtual gift exchange. Plan to have your gifts sent in packages that do not give away the store name or brand of the product, keep the mystery until it is time to open the gifts! Request gift-wrapping or wrap the gift yourself using colorful bows and heartfelt note cards. Unwrapping a present is always fun and it builds the anticipation of finding out what is inside the box, making the final reveal exciting even for those watching you open the gift.
During a year as crazy as this one has been it is more important than ever to feel connected to the people in our lives and cherish our time together. Although the holidays will look different this year, the technology we have access to allows us to get creative and make the best of the virtual holiday celebrations.