Trying to figure out how to use technology to help you celebrate virtual holidays? If you’re like me, using technology is intimidating. However, I’m discovering some great apps for getting my family together virtually for the upcoming holidays. It just takes some time, a little patience, and practice to understand how to use these services. After researching what services are available, I picked Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, and Discord to discuss here.
You may have other services available if you live outside of the United States.
Virtual Platforms To Help You Connect
I’ve never used Skype before. However it looks like I can use it to talk to more than one person at a time. I’m looking for a program that will let me talk to my children all at the same time. Skype’s about page say’s, “It’s free to use Skype – to send messages and have audio and video calls with groups of up to 50 people!” Go to this page to start a free meeting. “Don’t let distance get in the way this holiday, Meet Now!”
This platform requires that you create a link that you share with
The FaceTime app can only be used on iphones, and ipads. Click here for more information. FaceTime “features include group chats that can hold up to 32 participants, tools to let you know who is currently speaking, and the ability to choose who you want to see on the screen. This service is free to use.”
According to Tech Funnel, Google Hangouts is “A no-cost platform that offers tools to make phone calls, use instant messaging that connects with up to 10 people, and video conferencing. If you use Google, which is practically everyone, this platform is already installed into Google tools like Gmail. Another cool feature of Google Hangouts is that video calls can be streamed in real-time on YouTube.”
I can’t use this one, because my one son does not use Google.
If you use Facebook, you can make a call to one phone line, and get to see who you’re talking to in real time. I’ve used this several times since the pandemic started back in March. In Facebook’s Messenger box, pick one of your friends. Click on the phone icon at the top of their chat box. You need to do this from your smartphone or connect/turn on your audio and video equipment on your computer. When using your phone for calls, you may need to pay data charges to your phone carrier depending on your plan. To learn more about using Facebook Messenger click here.
That same son, does not use Facebook, either.
Discord For Gaming +
This section would not be complete without my sons’ favorite platform, Discord. Discord was originally started to be a way for gamers to talk to each other about the games they were playing. However, it’s being used for study groups, book clubs, art clubs, podcasts, and a whole lot more.
I’ve downloaded the free app to my computer, and am in the process of creating a family group “server.” This will be the best way to get all my kids together, and talking from their homes for the holidays. I successfully set up a family group and messaged, and was able to hear and see some of my kids last night!!
If you aren’t sure how to use these platforms, any teen or twenty-something should be able to assist you. (:
Virtual Holiday Activities
So once you’ve figured out how to get your family or friends together using one of these apps, you can do lots of activities with them.
- Celebrate a holiday, birthday or anniversary together.
- Discuss a book you’re reading together.
- Read to your grandchildren.
- Cook with your family.
- Enjoy a meal together.
- Play charades or any game you can think of doing.
- Sing Christmas Carols.
Online Games You Can Play Together On Virtual Holidays
I had no idea that there were this many games that you could play with friends online. Nicole Pajer from Parade says:
“Just because you can’t physically be with your friends while social distancing doesn’t mean that you can’t play with them. And having fun isn’t only for kids. Studies show that playing online games as an adult can do everything from help you to tackle your stress to boost your overall well-being—something that we all need during these heavy times.”
Check them out in the article below:
The 26 Best Online Games to Play With Friends While Social Distancing
Wrap-Up of Virtual Holidays Technology
Before I started writing this post, I was pretty overwhelmed with virtual platforms for getting the family together for Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Finally, I feel like I’ve found one that will work for all of us so we can celebrate our holiday virtually. I hope my research has shown you how you can meet-up virtually with your friends, and loved ones this holiday season. And I’ve given you some ideas on how to use this technology to enhance your holiday celebrations.
If you missed my last post, and are looking for more ideas, and tips for celebrating the holidays, click here.
I’ve created an UpBeat Living page on Bookshop.org. If you’re looking for some gift ideas for the holidays, please check it out here. This is an affiliate link.
Also, please help me keep this blog up and running. Even a couple dollars will help. You can donate here: https://ko-fi.com/upbeatliving Thank you!
Subscribe below for the bimonthly newsletter plus access to subscriber-only freebies. You may unsubscribe at any time, but I’d be thrilled if you stuck around.
Till next time, stay safe!! Happy Virtual Holidays! Kathy
Wow, thanks for the great roundup! This is helpful – I hadn’t even heard of some of these platforms.
I was interested that you didn’t include Zoom. Like many people, that’s been our go-to platform for virtual family gatherings, interviews, book groups, etc. since the pandemic began – very easy to use, even for the tech newbies in our book group! You do have to pay for more than 12 people or more than 45 min, but in most groups there is at least one person who has the pay version and can set the meeting up.
And just a point on FaceTime – it works on any Apple device, not just iPhones and iPads, so all Apple computers like MacBooks, too 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to pull all this together – will share!
Live with ME/CFS
Thanks Sue for the info on Facetime and Zoom. I’ve used Zoom for group meetings, but no one in my family has a paid version. I guess Zoom is an obvious choice for most people. I was looking for free or low cost apps as much as possible. Thank you so much for coming by and leaving me a note, and for sharing!!
Comments are closed.