Tips for a Successful Virtual Family Reunion

This holiday season, like the rest of 2020, we can forget about “normal,” but that doesn’t mean we have to set the holidays aside! Many families are planning to gather online this year, using video conferencing technology, and, with a little bit of planning ahead, your virtual holiday plans can come off without a hitch.

Establish Plans Clearly

While it might seem easier to let family members and loved ones come and go from your virtual conference room as they please, you may wish to create some plans for specific holiday events for which everyone may wish to be present at the same time. Some members of your group may have obligations to other family groups as well, so setting clear expectations about when everyone should be present will help prevent confusion and misunderstandings.

It may help to create a printable “calendar of events,” that will let everyone know what’s happening and when. Be sure to note not only the starting times of specific events, but also the endings. By allowing everyone to plan, you can be more assured they’ll all be present when it really counts! Try using clipart and festive backgrounds to create a calendar they’ll want to keep on the fridge as a reminder.

Test Technology in Advance

While some members of your family may be old-hand with video conferencing, others may have never used it before. Organize and hold a group gathering well in advance of your meeting time to make sure everyone has all the gadgets and know-how they need to participate. This time can also allow your more tech-savvy family members to assist others directly, and will also help make sure that everyone has a well-lit, comfortable space to spend their time online with you.

Adapt Traditions

Try and think of traditions you have and how to make them work for video conferencing. Ask others in your family beforehand, too, if there are any special traditions they’d like to maintain this year. Sometimes when we meet in person, things fall together to create traditions we might not even name that have become important to some members of our family. With video conferencing, we’ll need to be more deliberate about making sure there’s space for these usually “automatic” traditions.

Make Sure All Communication Needs Are Accommodated

Closed captioning can be a lifesaver for the hard of hearing. Similarly, using larger screens whenever possible and making sure our faces are present and well-lit can assist with lipreading. Also make sure your device is on a stable surface—having your head bobble around in your family members’ screens will not only make it more difficult for the hard of hearing but annoying for everyone else, and can make some people sick.

Try Out Some Digital Decor

Replace the wall behind you with a festive background, or make it look like you’re meeting up from a beach in Acapulco! Different backgrounds are one more way to add a little cheer and levity to the season, so go for it!

Give Technology Gifts In Advance

If you’re planning a gift that will help someone in your family use their technology more effectively, send it in advance of the holidays so they can use it during your video conferences. A few ideas include:

  • Webcam lighting kits – Usually just a single light that clips onto the edge of a laptop screen or sits on the table or desk, these lights do a good job of illuminating a person’s whole face for video conferences without blinding them in the process.
  • TV adapters and amplifying systems – A way to send the television audio directly to a set of hearing aids, this is a useful add-on that can improve the viewing experience for everyone in the room.
  • Phones and phone accessories – Bluetooth-capable phones can help hearing aid users connect directly to the audio from their phones, whether it’s a conversation, music, or a YouTube video. An amplified phone can also be important for someone who is hard of hearing, for the times of day when they don’t have their hearing aids in. They’re great for conversations closer to bed time, and for emergency calls.
  • Hearing aid supplies – Batteries, dehumidifiers, cleaning supplies and other essentials will be appreciated by loved ones who need to keep their hearing aids in good shape.

Mt. Hood Hearing

At Mt. Hood Hearing, we believe the best way to stay connected to our loved ones is with optimal hearing! If you have experienced changes in your hearing, contact us today for a hearing test and consultation. 

From all of us at Mt. Hood Hearing, we hope you and your loved ones have a great holiday season!