Tips for a Successful Virtual Family Reunion

Tips for a Successful Virtual Family Reunion

Kate Marnell, HIS
Latest posts by Kate Marnell, HIS (see all)

The holiday season is a time for friends and family to come together to celebrate when the days grow the shortest. However, like most things in 2020, this year’s celebration promises to create a new set of circumstances to navigate. 

The CDC has recommended avoiding holiday travel to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, your annual rituals may have to be modified in order to protect you, your family and the greater community. It is important to remember that while you may not be able to travel this year this doesn’t mean you have to skip your family reunion all together. 

Thanks to video conferencing technology it is easier than ever to celebrate your family together, virtually. If you have never hosted a virtual family reunion before, there is no need to stress. With a little bit of planning you can organize a successful reunion that will help your family feel connected this holiday season. Here are a few tips to help get you started.

Choose your connection tools wisely

There are so many options when it comes to web conferencing tools. How do you know which one is best for you and your family? Well, first ask yourself what exactly do you want from your family reunion? Most of the popular apps allow a large number of attendees, at least some time for free, screen sharing, real time captioning, fun backgrounds and more. It is important to choose a platform that most attendees can navigate easily and affordably, so they can attend stress free. 

Make sure it’s accessible

One of the beauties of getting family together is celebrating the different generations being together and sharing each other’s perspective. You want to make sure that it is easy for the seniors in your life to log on and follow conversation. At least half of all seniors over 75 deal with some level of hearing loss. 

Make sure that you turn on the caption feature so seniors can read along and follow conversation. For those using hearing aids there are now features available that allow instant wireless connectivity to the video conference audio, which sends the computer audio directly to the inner ear. 

However if you do not already have this feature, using headphones can help to register audio with improved clarity and less distraction. It may be hard for seniors to log on at all, but there are programs you can set up ahead of time which allow you to turn on other’s screens remotely, so the seniors attending nearly need to go to their computer to attend and participate.   

Prepare a schedule

Creating a virtual invitation and sending it out ahead of time can include instructions to join and include the start and the end time. This allows people to plan ahead of time. It is a good idea to have the  meeting start early so you can iron out any technical difficulties in logging in, or camera and audio issues. 

You may even want to schedule a test meeting earlier in the week so you do have to deal with these issues on the big day. A virtual meeting is new to many of us but keeping it fun will make people excited and feel engaged about the event. You could create a theme, suggest making it a costume party, have a talent show, share family photos, sing songs, share recipes and more. Your creativity is the limit!  

Make sure everyone gets involved

Your reunion will be a lot more engaging and entertaining if you get other people involved with your meeting. Some people in the family may have the tendency to speak while others may feel intimidated speaking in a large group. Make sure to plan activities that engage everyone. Trivia games, group storytelling, singing songs and more can act as icebreakers and inspire the talkative and quiet alike. It may be nice to set intentions for the next year and have everyone share theirs, in turn.

Record the memories

One highlight of a virtual reunion is that you can record the entire event and watch it for years to come. What a better way to remember this strange year than with a family recording in the time of COVID-19. While we can’t be together we can certainly show our love for one another by staying home this holiday season while still enjoying each other’s company.