The holidays, as the rest of the year, is looking pretty different in 2020. With coronavirus still a real threat, rising in cases around the country, although we want to spend this time physically near our loved ones, it’s much safer to have a virtual get together.
But that doesn’t mean it has to be a boring, business-like online call with the fam. You can still add all the spirit, fun, and sense of togetherness to a Zoom family holiday celebration, just like you would in person. There are some tips and tricks that will make this transition to feting online a little bit easier.
Set Up Zoom and Send Out the Invites
The first step is to head over to Zoom, or whatever other virtual meeting app you’d like to use (Houseparty, Google Hangouts Meet, etc.). Set up an account, and then send meeting links to your family and/or friends. They won’t need to have a Zoom account to join, just the link. You may have to help older and/or not so tech savvy loved ones on how to get everything ready to go.
Sorry, You Can’t Invite the Entire Fam
Although you can host up to 100 people on Zoom, and up to 1,000 with their Large Meeting add-on, many sources suggest capping virtual parties at 10 participants. This is so everyone can have a chance to chime in and be heard. But given that many Latinxs have large families, and we all talk over each other anyway, we’re sure a larger number of familia en Zoom will work. The more, the merrier, no? You can also set up breakout rooms for primo chats, chismes, etc. More on that later.
Still Dress Up to Hang Out in La Sala
Each year, we get dressed up, put on fabulous makeup looks, and look our best in order to spend time with our family, en la sala. That celebratory feeling doesn’t have to change in 2020, and shouldn’t. Get in the holiday spirit by finally getting out of those comfy sweats and into clothes with more structure and style. You’ll feel fab for it.
Hosting Etiquette Is Still the Same
Hosting etiquette and duties are practically the same when hosting an virtual holiday party. You want to make sure everyone is happy, and that there’s good banter. You’ll want to gracefully swerve any problematic family members or friends, and the things that come out of their mouth. The good thing is that this year, you won’t have to worry about serving food and drinks (aside from in your own household), or deal with a massive cleanup afterwards.
Have Somewhat of a Schedule
It’s always a good idea to have some time frame for your holiday party, virtual or not. However, the best Latinx parties always go well into the morning, so there’s no need to be too punctual about anything. On Zoom, with a free account, meetings last 40 minutes or less. However, they are waiving this time restriction on Thanksgiving, so we can all get our socially-distanced party on.
Decorate, and/or Use a Holiday-Themed Virtual Background
While some are opting out of holiday decor in 2020, others are keeping the holiday spirit alive, maybe more than ever, by pulling out their tried-and-true decorations, buying more pumpkins, plaid bows, and other seasonal touches, and using nostalgia to keep hope alive for the future. An easy and free way to show everyone it’s time to celebrate the season during your Zoom party is to use a fun themed virtual background. This could be a Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa backdrop, a background featuring your hometown, or maybe a sweet throwback photo of the fam.
Play Some Music
Some say that playing music during a Zoom call can make it hard to hear participants speak, but since when has there been a Latinx party without loud music?! And when has loud music ever stopped us from getting our points across?! Exactly. Put together a dope playlist of classics, new jams, or both, and share it with your guests!
Invite Guests to Share Their Decor and Food
A fun thing to do to break up the conversation during a holiday Zoom party is to have everyone show off their fabulous seasonal decor, and what yummy dishes they’ve created (or bought) for the occasion. It’ll allow everyone a moment in each other’s home, and a chance for each guest to shine, showing off their keen design style and cooking/baking skills.
Send a Party Time Gift Basket in Advance
Caroo had a really good idea for making virtual holiday parties seem more unified. Why not send a fun gift box or basket ahead of the party? This way, you can share in a yummy dessert treat, a great scented candle, a shared cup of hot chocolate, a fun holiday game, or whatever else you think of!
Feel Free to Use That Mute Button
Thank God there is a mute button on Zoom. Whether it’s everyone talking over everyone else, a conversation that for no reason went left, or just wanting to hear that fabulous salsa or cumbia song uninterrupted, the mute button can be a lifesaver during virtual holiday parties.
Create Breakout Rooms to Have Smaller (Read Chisme-Filled) Conversations
Breakout rooms in Zoom works much like in-person parties. At any house party, you’ll have people gathering in the kitchen to talk over drinks, others dancing in the living room to music full blast, and those who just need to go outside for a breather and some quiet time. Breakout rooms let you set up the same situations, or any other you can think of (you can create up to 50 for each Zoom call!). Want a room for the cousins to share the chismes about the rest of the family? And all-Spanish and/or all-English room so that everyone can understand what’s going on? Or a room for prayer time, sharing those recipes for holiday leftovers, or for the kids to play? You can create a breakout room for that.
Organizing any holiday get together can be stressful. So, remember to add to your to-do list to have fun. Laugh, eat, drink, and be merry. Have a gingerbread house competition, share recipes for leftovers, and spill the latest over dessert and coffee. Play a random game, or just play catch up with everyone for hours. The idea is to share some heartfelt and happy times with your favorite people.
Share the Love
The most important reason why you are having a virtual holiday party is because you love your friends and family, and want to spend time together during this time of year, even when we are forced to be physically separated due to COVID-19. This is the time to let people know how much they mean to you, and how loved they are. So, share the love!