As we head into the holidays, concerns about the spread of the coronavirus persist. Many older adults and their families are uncertain of how to plan for what is typically the most festive time of year. Unlike the warm days of summer when families could gather in small groups outdoors where social distancing is easier, the cold weather makes that impossible for many.
One solution to consider that will allow everyone to stay safely in their own homes, is to host a virtual holiday party with loved ones. The variety of video chat services that are now available, and the ease with which they can be set up, make this a viable way to celebrate.
Senior-Friendly Video Chat Services
If your senior family member hasn’t done so already, walk them through how to add Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout, or FaceTime to their laptop or tablet. You can likely accomplish that during a telephone call. Each is an inexpensive or free platform that allows for virtual face-to-face interactions. While it’s always better to be together, these are solutions to consider during unusual times like these.
Another option to explore is a little easier to use, but it is also more of an investment. Grand Pad is a tablet designed for older adults to use easily. Loved ones can connect to a private family network via an app on their phone. The app allows them to make phone calls, engage in video chats, share photos, and send email.
While these platforms give you the ability to connect across the miles, you might need ideas for what kind of gathering you can plan for your virtual party. We have some suggestions for you and your loved ones to consider.
4 Virtual Holiday Party Ideas
1. Cookie exchange: Let’s be honest, cookies and sweet treats are a favorite part of the holidays for many of us. Whether it’s your grandmother’s sugar cookies or your aunt’s gingerbread, you can host a virtual cookie exchange. This event can be doable no matter how far apart you live. The key is to take advantage of shipping services, like UPS or Federal Express who will pick up packages at your front door. Once everyone has received all of their treats, you can set up a video chat to taste the goodies together and share recipes. Don’t forget to whip up your favorite hot drink and turn on a few holiday tunes.
2. Family gift exchange: With many people trying to stay home and others fearful of flying or traveling by other means, you might need to reconsider how to host your family’s traditional gift exchange. Consider organizing gift drop offs and pick-ups or shipping presents to those who live further away. Get dressed up just like you would if you were meeting in person, and then jump on a video chat to open your gifts “together.” Don’t forget to decorate your background!
3. Holiday caroling: While it might feel a bit hokey at first, singing holiday carols together can actually be fun especially if there are little ones involved. It might help to create a playlist ahead of time with input from everyone. You could also have family members download an app, like Sing Along Christmas Carols or Christmas Carols Countdown 2020.
4. Classic Christmas stories: Another fun idea for several generations of your family to enjoy together is reading Christmas stories via video chat. Everyone can download or borrow favorite stories from the local library to read along with the storyteller. Grandparents can read to the kids and vice versa. Another fun option is to utilize the Share Screen feature on Zoom and watch a You Tube video like this one of Santa reading the story of Twas the Night Before Christmas.
Holiday Celebrations at Sunrise
At Sunrise communities, we go the extra mile to ensure residents have a joyful holiday. Learn how we’ve made adjustments that allow residents to make the most of Life At Sunrise, while also working hard to keep everyone safe. We’ve upgraded our technology to arrange virtual family meetings anytime. You’ll find information on everything from infection control to family visitation in the time of COVID-19. We also invite you to call us at (888) 434-4648 with any questions.