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 are also limited to five people from a maximum of two households in the private sphere.

Of course, these regulations arouse resentment among the majority of the population. After all, you have been struggling with the pandemic all year round. Some more than others, but none have been completely spared by the circumstances.

And after having to do without almost all the big events this year, Christmas is a glimmer of hope for a nice celebration with the family.

But nothing will come of it either. At least not as we know it.

Despite the possibility of meeting on a small scale, many have concerns. Especially older people, who fall into the group of risk patients, think twice about whether they really want to meet their children and grandchildren in person.

Many cancel for security reasons. Because even traveling long distances with a face mask is rather difficult if you cannot drive your own car and there is often no longer the possibility of staying overnight at the destination.

With this blog entry, we would like to show you a few ways in which you might be able to spend a contemplative time with the whole family without having to be in the same place.

Smartphones, the easiest way to stay connected

A simple solution that probably everyone will come up with: just pick up the phone and call the relatives. Not everyone has to tell dear grandma or grandpa individually what Santa Claus or the Christ child has brought. If you just turn on the speaker, everyone can talk to each other as normal.

By means of a conference call you can even talk to several households at the same time. This is very easy: call the first person and wait until they have answered the call. Then they press the button with a plus, labeled "Add Call" or similar, and call the next caller.

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 the voice is not enough, you can try a video chat. For this, all parties need a smartphone and a working internet connection on it. Many who have a smartphone now also use Whatsapp. The app makes it easy to connect with each other via video chat. You simply click on the camera icon in the upper right corner of the desired person's chat.

If you prefer not to use Whatsapp, you can download the Google Duo app. Basically, this is another Google feature, just like Gmail or Google Maps, which are pre-installed on most Android smartphones. When activating the Google Duo app, you will be asked if 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 also not registered 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 acquaintances, because it only takes one person to invite everyone else to a conference. The other people just have to press the answer button.

Think bigger than smartphones

Smartphones are quite small and for families with many heads it is a fiddly affair when every child wants to present their great Christmas gifts at the same time.

The functions mentioned in the last section can also be implemented via a tablet, a laptop, or a PC! Tablets and laptops usually have an audio in and out port, as well as a built-in webcam. 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. Although the use of teams requires that you have an Office 365 license, it is also worthwhile in terms of connection quality.

Perhaps you know the New Year's Eve problem: 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 expect something similar this Christmas, as many will resort to the possibility of using the telephone. Teams also offers the possibility of a stable connection via video chat. This tool is already used in many companies and is available alongside Word, PowerPoint, Excel and many more. Included with Office 365 license. So if you already have one of these tools on your computer, Teams is probably already installed. Then just open your Start menu and type teams.

in the search bar

If you have a Mac or Linux operating system, you can sign in to Office 365 through the browser and use the simplified browser versions of the tools.

Possibly you don't even have Microsoft Office 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 on offer and can see for yourself whether you can use Office 365 in the longer term.

We're happy to advise you on other benefits besides calling your family at Christmas!

Smart TVs

Do you actually know what your SmartTV can do? Among other things, you can easily play content from your mobile phone on your TV!

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 TV provider, different mirror apps are recommended here, 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 an iPhone to an Android TV, LetsView is a suitable app. The Mirroring360 app can be used the other way around, from an Android cell phone to an AppleTV. These are just a few examples without guarantee. They test individually what works best for them.

Activities via video chat

If simply chatting with loved ones isn't getting you in the holiday spirit, here are some ideas for fun activities to do for them.

If you want things to be a little quieter, you can watch a film together.

Some streaming services now offer the option of watching films at the same time. Unfortunately, so far this has only been possible via the browser versions of the providers, but it offers you the opportunity to watch a film in several places at 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 the PC next to a film, you can simply keep a phone call going. By regulating mute and unmute, you also prevent hearing the film twice.

If you still don't like watching the film on your PC or laptop, you can connect it to your television with 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 that 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 happy glitter in the eyes of the recipient via video chat.

Or have you thought about inviting Santa Claus to you via video conference? The poor man is not having an easy year either and wants to maintain his existence! If it is too time-consuming to design the background for Santa Claus and you don't have a reindeer at hand when the children ask for it, some providers, such as Teams, have a suitable function to change your video background.

So the children can't avoid having to recite a poem.

However you spend your holidays,

we wish you a relaxing and peaceful time!