Like any other gathering, however, you’ll need to do some prep work to make it successful. Here are some tips:
Decide what kind of gathering you’ll have
Your family might prefer sharing laughs while cooking instead of watching one another eat, and that’s all good. Whenever you decide to meet, make sure everyone knows what the plan is. If you’ll be cooking together, send recipes to those who don’t have them or to those who are new to preparing a holiday meal. Encourage everyone to make sure they have all ingredients and tools needed before logging in, so others don’t have to wait.
If you and friends prefer to talk over dinner, set up your phone/tablet/laptop ahead of time so you can check the angle and lighting. You don’t want everyone staring at the top of your head or up your nose during the meal.
Have a practice run
Uncle Ralph knows how to text, but he’s never been on a video call. He’s your favorite uncle, though, so walk him through how to access Zoom, set up an account, log in, etc. He might want to pick a background, too, if he’s apprehensive about family members seeing his art collection or cobwebs.
During your practice run, make sure everyone knows how the mute button works so you don’t all talk over one another. You might also want to agree on some ground rules during this meeting: conversation topics that are off limits, what time to log in on Thanksgiving, etc.
Don’t stress too much
Problems arise at many family gatherings — someone is late; something burns; someone’s feelings get hurt. It’s possible your virtual reunion will have some hiccups, too — slow internet; lost connections; someone’s feelings get hurt.
Don’t stress too much. If everyone forgets to hit mute, that’s OK. If no one wants to talk for a bit, that’s OK, too.
And if Aunt Sadie’s questions start to get too personal, remember you have volume control.