I don’t know about you guys, but here at Allergy Schatz virtual calls and gatherings have become such a part of our everyday lives that we’ve all but forgotten how to interact with people in real life.
But we’ve come to understand that this is now the new “norm” and the best way to get through it, is to make the most of it. So we’re sharing with you some of our favorite tips for getting through the holiday season.
Make Sure the Room is Well Lit
The whole point of a virtual holiday is to see each other so a well lit room is going to be key in all your Zoom and FaceTime meals together. If you are having dinner in a room that is not typically well lit, you can add additional lamps to the room to brighten it up.
Looking for an easier way to brighten things up? Try getting a clip on ring light-these are great when you need that extra ray of light. You can get a pretty decent one for a relatively low price via Amazon or Walmart ($10-$25). They’re lightweight, easy to use, and clip on to your mobile device (so you can tell that one family member that usually holds up the light they can rest their hands.)
Practice in Advance
I know this may seem like a prep step too far, but we just talked about those family members who might be new to this technology. It doesn’t hurt to do a practice round with anyone who might be nervous about jumping online with others. I can tell you right now, my mother-is that person. She’s always afraid the camera is gonna start and catch her when she's not made up and she overthinks every step, even in a 3-step process. But I love her and I refuse to let her lack of tech knowledge stand in the way of our virtual relationship. I’ve found that just giving her a brief 5-15min tutorial prior to a virtual gathering really helps put her mind at ease ( and it means it’s one less glass of wine I’ll need to drink)
Add a Fun Background
Backgrounds are a fun and easy way to get into the holiday spirit. All you need is vinyl green or blue tablecloth (I purchased mine from Dollar Tree for $1).
Then you can use old photos or search the web for your favorite holiday themes to put in the back. If you know me, you know I love a good background and all of the fun that goes along with it. You can even make a game out of it with your friends and family-vote on who has the funniest background, best theme, or all around best background!
Let the Music Play
OK let’s face it, music shouldn’t really be played at all. This is the time to talk to and enjoy each other's company. But then again, who wants to sit around in the still of a virtual room where no one is talking, everyone is eating, and forks, knives, and chomping noises are magnified to the utmost level? Our suggestion?
Throw on some tunes. Now we realize that this could cause unwanted family arguments since not everyone has the same taste, but this is a time for sharing so why not let each group have their own 15-20 music segment (put on low) so that everyone gets a chance to hear the songs they like? I promise you I am NOT ready for Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas but someone will undoubtedly play it at dinner, and I will counter with Wonderful Christmastime and Last Christmas. And if your family is extra savvy when it comes to music, you can make a game out of it which is the perfect segway to our next tip.
It might be a little awkward to jump on a virtual gathering and talk to people about what’s going on in your life if you’re not used to Zoom calls. Even more so, with everyday feeling the same and an unstable economy, family and friends may feel reluctant, even put on the spot if the conversation turns to “so what’s new?” Instead, why not mix it up with a few games? There’s nothing like a little friendly family competition to break the ice.
You can do a family scavenger hunt,name that tune, or even play together using your mobile devices. Kahoot allows you to create your own games online and participants can use their phones to answer questions and play against each other in real time!
Leave some wiggle room
Yes, nobody wants to wait to gobble down those piping hot mashed potatoes or for the gravy to get cold and gelatinous, but it is important to leave some wiggle room. Not everybody is a tech wiz and despite how easy YOU may think it's easy to hop on Zoom call, what about Uncle what's-his-face? Don’t expect everyone to be on time!
Leave some wiggle room for those who may be struggling to get on, round up all the kids, or give the Turkey an extra 5 minutes in the oven. But if you’re really worried about everyone being on time, you can always set the meeting a little later, (or what I do in my family) give people a start time 30 mins to an hour prior to when you really wanna start.
Did you like these tips? Have a few of your own? Let us know in the comments.