Christmas time, separated united
Christmas will be different this year than most people know. Because of the pandemic and the definitely necessary distance rules, households are only allowed to meet with four other people over the age of 14 over the Christmas holidays; outside of the holidays, groups of people, even in private areas, are limited to five people from a maximum of two households.
These regulations naturally arouse dissatisfaction among the majority of the population. After all, we have been struggling with the pandemic all year long. Some more than others, but none have been completely spared from the circumstances.
And after having to forgo almost all of the big events this year, Christmas is a glimmer of hope for a nice celebration with the family.
But nothing comes of this either. At least not as we know it.
Despite the possibility of meeting on a small scale, many have concerns. Older people in particular, who fall into the group of high-risk patients, think twice about whether they really want to meet their children and grandchildren in person.
Many people cancel for safety reasons. Even traveling over long distances is rather difficult with a face mask if you cannot drive your own car and the option of staying overnight at your destination is often no longer possible.
With this blog entry we would like to show you a few ways in which you can perhaps spend a contemplative time with the entire family without having to be in the same place.
Smartphones, the easiest solution to stay connected
A simple solution that everyone will probably come up with: just pick up the phone and call your relatives. Not everyone has to tell their dear grandma or grandpa what Santa Claus or the Christ Child brought. If you simply turn on the loudspeaker, everyone can talk to each other normally.
You can even talk to several households at the same time using a conference call. This is very easy: call the first person and wait until they accept the call. Then they press the button with a plus labeled “Add Call” or something similar and call the next participant.
You may still need to connect the two calls. There is also a suitable button for this. And now they can all talk to each other.
If you don't have enough voice, you can try a video chat. To do this, all parties need a smartphone and a working internet connection on it. Many people who have a smartphone now also use Whatsapp. The app makes it easy to connect with each other via video chat. You simply press the camera symbol at the top right of the desired person's chat.
If you would rather do without WhatsApp, you can download the Google Duo app. Essentially, this is another feature from Google, just like Gmail or Google Maps, which come pre-installed on most Android smartphones. When activating the Google Duo app, you will be asked whether you want to give the app access to the camera, sound and contacts. These are necessary for a working video call. You don't have to have a Google account. If the contact you want to reach is not logged in with a Google account, you can add them to your Google Duo contacts with one click and video chat with them. By creating a group by clicking the “Create Group” button, you can also video chat with multiple contacts at the same time.
These options can also be implemented with your less smartphone-savvy friends. Because it only takes one person to invite everyone else to a conference. The other people just have to press the accept call button.
Think bigger than smartphones
Smartphones are quite small and for families with many heads it is a fiddly affair if every child wants to present their great Christmas presents at the same time.
The functions mentioned in the last section can also be implemented using a tablet, a laptop or a PC! Tablets and laptops usually have an audio in and out port, as well as a webcam integrated. The apps described above can also be opened on these devices.
But laptops and PCs in particular offer even more communication options.
With Microsoft Teams, for example. Using Teams requires that you have an Office 365 license, but it is also worth it in terms of the connection quality.
Perhaps you know the problem from New Year's Eve: It's midnight, you want to call your friends to wish them a happy New Year and you can't get through because the telephone network is overloaded.
You can probably expect something similar this Christmas, as many will resort to the option of making phone calls. Teams offers the option of a stable connection also via video chat. This tool is already used in many companies and is available alongside Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and much more. Included in the Office 365 license. So if you already have one of these tools on your computer, Teams is probably already installed. Then simply open your Start menu and type Teams in the search bar.
If you have a Mac or a Linux operating system, you can log in to Office 365 via the browser and use the simplified browser versions of the tools.
But you may not have Microsoft Office at all and buying a license just for this one tool is not an argument.
With a one-month free trial you get access to all the tools offered and can see for yourself whether you can use Office 365 in the long term.
We would also be happy to advise you about other benefits besides calling your family at Christmas!
Do you actually know what your SmartTV can do? Among other things, you can easily play content from your cell phone on your television!
With the help of a mirror app, you can, for example, run your video chat on the television! Depending on the mobile phone operating system and television provider, different mirror apps are recommended, but to throw a few names into the room, there would be Miracast for Android devices and AppleTV for Apple devices. If you want to mirror from an iPhone to an Android TV, LetsView is a suitable app. The other way around, from an Android cell phone to an AppleTV, the Mirroring360 app can be used. These are just a few examples without guarantee. They test individually what works best for them.
Activities via video chat
If simply chatting with your loved ones doesn't give you the Christmas spirit you need, here are a few ideas for fun activities for them.
If you want things to be a little quieter, there is the option of watching a film together.
Some streaming services now offer the option of watching films at the same time. Unfortunately, this is currently only possible via the providers' browser versions, but it offers you the opportunity to watch a film in several locations at exactly the same time. The host of the so-called streaming party has the power to decide on pauses and rewinds. You could exchange reactions via an integrated chat, but if you find it rather annoying to type on your PC while watching a film, you can simply continue making a phone call at the same time. By regulating the mute and unmute switching, you also avoid hearing the film twice.
If you still don't feel comfortable watching the film on your PC or laptop, you can connect it to your television using an HDMI cable, provided the necessary connections are available, and enjoy the film "on the big screen".
It's almost like sitting on the sofa together, except you have more space!
In addition to watching films together, you can of course also experience the gift giving together. Family members who are not present can still follow the excitement and the delighted glint in the recipient's eyes via video chat.
Or have you ever thought about inviting Santa Claus to your place via video conference? The poor man isn't having an easy year either and wants to maintain his existence! If it's too much work for you to design Santa Claus's background and perhaps you don't have a reindeer to hand when the children ask for one, some providers, such asb Teams, a suitable function to change your video background.
So the children can't avoid having to recite a poem.