Setting Up Your Holiday Gatherings For “Tele-Celebration”

Any “normal year,” you may find yourself already worried about exposing your parents or other at-risk members of your family to colds and illnesses brought in by little ones or students coming home from college — but 2020 hasn’t been a normal year. It’s more important than ever to keep vulnerable loved ones at a safe distance, well away from those who may have come into contact with COVID-19 or may even be asymptomatic carriers. Thanks to platforms like Facetime and Zoom, proper social distancing has never been easier.

Using Facetime

Once a novelty unique to iPhones, Facetime is a technology by Apple that’s present on nearly all Apple devices, from iMacs to Macbooks, iPhones to iPads. As long as both participants have an Apple device with a camera (and an Apple ID), video conversations can be established with just a simple swipe and push. Group video conversations are easy to establish and bring several members of the family together across multiple homes. It’s one of the easiest apps to teach seniors, with just a few simple swipes leading from the home screen of their iPhone to an intuitive video call.

Because of its presence on Apple products, you also enjoy the crystal quality most Apple cameras have, allowing your loved ones to see every detail, down to the smiles on faces when dinner is served or when presents start being torn open.

Using Zoom

Zoom was a business-only video conferencing app until March of this year when, all of a sudden, it became the way you could meet friends, go out for happy hours, and even go to church. Zoom’s popularity is due to its accessibility across platforms, including non-Apple devices, as well as its free version. If your parents own a non-Apple PC or an Android phone or tablet, this is far and away the best option to bring your family to them. While it does place time limits on group chats within the free version, it can be accessed by every family member, not just those toting an iPhone. Even the paid membership is quite affordable on a monthly basis, with plans starting at $15.99 for up to 100 participants in a single, no time-limit meeting.

Although inherently made for business environments, Zoom is a powerful tool that can bring dozens of family members together in a seamless, Brady Bunch-esque collage (you can also choose to focus on individual speakers). Once you’re in, the platform is just as straightforward and simple as Facetime. Just make certain a tech-savvy family member who knows the platform is your meeting’s administrator!

Tips for “Tele-Celebrating”

No matter what you choose for your video call service, there are a few ways to help make your loved ones feel at home despite the camera:

  • Set the laptop or phone in the seat or place they usually have when visiting in person. This will help them orient themselves and feel more present.
  • Send goodies and pre-cooked dishes for your CAREGiver to prepare so they can enjoy a meal with you — just like old times.
  • Make sure your devices are plugged in — screens going suddenly dark can be disheartening when they’re enjoying the warmth of the family.
  • Finally, do a practice run before the real thing. You’ll iron out the technical wrinkles as well as help your loved ones enjoy the moment, rather than orienting themselves to the view.

Give the Gift of Ease

A CAREGiver from Home Instead makes your parents’ lives richly independent — even when they need the occasional IT help to get on Facetime or Zoom! Knowing that your loved ones are supported allows you to make the most of a much-needed holiday celebration and focus on what matters most: your loved ones getting to share the moment with you.