Madison Magazine Holiday 2020 - Page 24

Faith and Family

How to host virtual holiday celebrations

The 2020 holiday season figures to be vastly different than seasons past . The novel coronavirus COVID-19 has transformed daily life in many ways . The public has become accustomed to wearing masks while shopping , limiting the number of people in public venues and keeping their distance from friends and loved ones . Many events have been reimagined as virtual celebrations because of social distancing protocols . For those with large families or people with inherent risk factors that make them more susceptible to illness , sharing the holidays over video conferencing apps may be the safest way to go in 2020 . The following tips can help holiday hosts make the most of a virtual holiday experience .
Pick a bright , festive spot
Set up your tablet , smartphone or computer in a bright area with a festive backdrop . You ’ ll want others who join the virtual hangout to be able to see you clearly . A Christmas tree or a decorated fireplace in the background can set the scene .
Choose the right conferencing app
Certain programs may work better than others depending on your needs . For example , if everyone has the same operating system platform ( iOS or Android ),
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you may be able to use an app inherent to that system , which won ’ t require a separate download or login . Apps also may be chosen depending on how many people can be invited in , as some set limits . Do your homework and conduct a test run prior to the holidays .
Keep props nearby
If the goal is to open gifts virtually , be sure to have everyone gathered and gifts nearby so no one is scrambling in and out of view .
Position the camera at eye level
Try to set up the camera so you ’ re not looking up or down . Practice looking straight into the camera instead of at yourself in the minimized window or even others on the screen . This way you ’ ll appear engaged .
Use mute when not speaking
Muting yourself ( and encouraging others to do the same ) when you are not speaking will limit the amount of background noise . As the host , serve as the moderator and encourage everyone to speak one at a time . Choose a visual cue to signal when someone has the floor to speak , such as raising a hand or even showing a festive picture .
Tune into virtual worship
While some places of worship have reopened to some capacity , others may still be offering hybrid services . If
A phenomenon called “ cabin fever ” tends to set in around late autumn or in midwinter . Long hours of darkness coupled with cold , inclement weather often is a recipe for increased time spent indoors . For people who live alone , the effects of cabin fever might be more pronounced . your place of worship offers services via YouTube or another video platform , gather around and watch together and participate just as if you were there in person . Better yet , share the link with other family and friends so they can tune in as well .
Share dinner ‘ together ’
Set up your camera source so it captures the holiday table . All parties gathering virtually can then sit down to the holiday meal as one and enjoy one of the season ’ s more endearing traditions .
Virtual celebrations may continue through the holiday season . Adapting with some video conferencing tips can ensure everyone enjoys the festivities .

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In addition to seasonal cabin fever , this year another factor comes into play : social distancing and voluntary quarantine as a result of the novel coronavirus COVID- 19 . Even those who may venture outside to socialize , particularly around the holiday season , may be hesitant or unable to do so to help prevent the spread of the virus . In these instances , friends and loved ones can mitigate feelings of isolation in various ways .
• Schedule video chats . Video conferencing apps have become the communication vehicles of choice during the era of social distancing . Different applications and services continue to evolve and help people stay in touch . Plan regular chats , either once or twice per week with isolated or vulnerable people . Try to organize a large group chat on the holiday itself so no one has to spend Christmas or Chanukah alone .
• Drop off supplies . Even though supermarket shopfrom-home and other delivery services have normalized somewhat since the start of the pandemic , treat individuals who may be isolated to some personalized attention . Put together care packages of supplies or holiday treats and deliver them in person so you can see the smiles that result from being able to visit with someone familiar .
• Send uplifting messages . Children or even adults can make personalized cards and mail them to loved ones at home or those who may be in long-term care facilities . Send new mailings every week or two so that residents always have something to look forward to in the mail .
• Start a virtual club . A book club or another shared interest can be the catalyst for more frequent communication . A club puts everyone on the same page and enables them to come together , via phone or video chat , for a discussion .