The holiday season has always been an opportunity for families, friends and loved ones to connect and spend meaningful time with one another. A holiday gathering is more than just another meal. It's a chance to slow down and take a moment to appreciate those who matter to us that we may not see as often as we would like, especially due to the challenges we have all faced this past year.
With the CDC recommending that staying home is the safest option, the holidays are going to look quite different this year. Although that’s disappointing news, there are still ways to celebrate and spend time with your loved ones with the help of technology, creativity and good planning. If you're going to be hosting your gatherings virtually, here are a few key tips you can do to feel like you’re together, even if you’re miles apart.
Have a Plan in Place
Schedule the date and time on a virtual platform, like Zoom or Google Hangouts, and send out the link to the virtual gathering at least two weeks prior to ensure everyone can join. Choosing a time during the virtual call to all sit down and eat dinner together is important. Depending on how many people will be joining – and how many time zones you're dealing with – it might not be as easy as you'd think to find a time that everyone can agree on, so it's best to determine this in advance.
Take Care of the Technology Factor Now
Additionally, you'll want to ensure that everyone has access to a device they can use for video conferencing (any desktop or laptop with a camera will work, as will most tablets and smartphones). To make sure everyone in the family is involved, keep in mind that you may have to assist some of your older, less-tech-savvy, relatives who may be new to these video conference platforms with downloading an app, creating an account or logging in.
Create the Most Consistent Experience Possible
To make it feel like you're all celebrating together, coordinate a menu with the cooks of each household to have at least a few similar dishes to enjoy. This way, everyone can enjoy the same appetizers, a family member’s secret stuffing recipe or apple pie for dessert. Just be sure to share recipes well in advance so that everyone has time to prepare them, regardless of where they are.
Staying on budget for your virtual celebration shouldn't be too difficult, as you'll likely be meal planning for a smaller group of people. Use Lakeland Online & Mobile Banking to keep track of your spending, and to see just how much you're saving versus a past holiday gathering.
Create That Feeling of Togetherness
Family gatherings are about more than just the meal, especially this year, where it’s about the virtual experience. Search for craft ideas on Pinterest and consider creating small DIY decorations that everyone can make like a simple fall centerpiece. This way, it will appear like you're sitting at the same table together.
Stick with the holiday traditions of family fun and research online games that everyone can participate in or organize a scavenger hunt for the kids to keep the fun going all night long! Then have everyone share what they’re thankful for and use the screenshot feature to take a family photo; it'll go a long way towards making it seem like you're all together.
Looking Ahead to the Future
When December arrives, you may not be able to celebrate with your family physically for holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Year’s so be sure to utilize these ideas for those virtual gatherings as well. All you’ll need is a different theme which in turn will change up your overall plans and activities to ensure another successful virtual gathering. Although most of us would rather be together this holiday season, thankfully we have the technology to celebrate virtually and look forward to when it’s safe to resume our traditional family gatherings.