Digital ParentingDec 21, 2020

Ways to Connect with Family over the Holidays

Ways to Connect with Family over the Holidays

With the holidays here, many of us are trying to reimagine what our family gatherings will look like this year. Some places are under a new round of restrictions, and experts are urging us to find different ways to celebrate. If you’re relying on tech to connect this holiday season, here are a few fun and creative suggestions to ensure you share quality time with your loved ones online.

Make the most of your video calls

Video calling has been a lifeline for many families that can’t get together in person during the pandemic, but it didn’t take us long to realize that Zoom calls can be meandering and awkward, especially for kids. If you’re planning on connecting with family via video chat there are some simple ways to make it more enjoyable:

  • Keep it small and try to arrange for groups of 6 or less.
  • Set a clear time limit ahead of time to ensure everyone has the same expectations and help avoid awkward goodbyes.
  • Designate a host: just like in-person gatherings usually have a de-facto host, try putting someone in charge who sends the invites and even organizes an informal agenda with themes or games.
  • Try sharing an activity: have your aunt demo their famous cookie recipe while you follow along at home, play “I Spy” with items on screen, or craft holiday decorations while you chat. Doing something active allows you to catch up while skipping the small talk.

Play social games as a family

Lots of kids are already turning to popular online games like Among Us, Roblox and Animal Crossing. These can be great ways to connect if you get family and friends involved too. Many online social games have options to restrict entry to people you know, so it’s possible to enjoy as a closed group. You can also organize a video call at the same time, to chat while you play.

  • Hop on HouseParty to play games as a group!
  • Drawasaurus is a fun and creative guessing game where you can create your own rooms for family and friends.
  • Family classics like Uno, Scrabble and Monopoly are available as apps, and you can create games with people you know.

Share asynchronous holiday messages

If you’re spending the holidays in a different timezone from your loved ones, scheduling live video calls may be tricky. Filming your own video messages and then embracing the penpal mentality can help you connect even when your schedules don’t match up. These videos can be an unstructured check in with your loved ones, or something a little more elaborate.

  • Share a favourite holiday memory, then ask them to send one back!
  • Recite a holiday poem, read a section of a book aloud or sing a carol.
  • Tell the story of one of your holiday decorations. When did you get it? What does it mean to you?

Get everyone up to speed

If you have family members who are less tech-savvy, spend a little extra time getting them acquainted with technology leading up to the holidays.

  • Gift or lend a tablet, laptop or smartphone, and get them set up with wifi if they don’t already have access to it.
  • Organize a training session over the phone, where you can walk them through how to get online and open the apps you might be using for your family events.
  • Meet them 15 minutes before the online gathering to guide them through the functions of the app and answer any questions. Above all, be patient!
  • If you’d like to go a step further, there are many online courses that teach basic tech skills. For more info, check out How to Become Tech Savvy Seniors in 10 Days.

This likely isn’t the holiday season many of us were hoping for, but it presents a unique opportunity to connect in new ways. With a little bit of planning and imagination, there are still ways to stay connected with the people who matter most.

Image Credit: fizkes / Shutterstock


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