Friends & Family

Missing Time With Extended Family? Here’s How to Host a Virtual Gathering


So many events have been and will continue to be affected by the current crisis. Maybe you’ve already tried to FaceTime an Easter egg hunt with your extended family or attempted singing together over your virtual Passover Seder. Then, there are some of us who are used to celebrating events without family nearby and have already practiced the virtual family gathering for birthday parties, milestone moments, and more.

But whether you’re used to the virtual extended family get-together or are considering one for the first time, it’s certain that family events are going to be different this year. If you’re feeling down about the change, remember with each reimagined event, we’re showing our children how to adapt in uncertainty and making new memories they’ll have to tell their own children and grandchildren someday.

Here are some considerations and ideas for hosting a virtual family event.


Choose the Date, Time, and Virtual Platform

Like any event, virtual events need a date and time shared with everyone. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure everyone is set up on the group video platform you want to use. Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Facebook Portal, or Skype allow multiple people to videoconference (remember Zoom’s free service has a 45-minute limit).

If you’re concerned a grandparent or parent may need help with the setup, consider scheduling a test call beforehand so they will be all set (hopefully) when the event begins.



Set Some Constraints

The number of people trying to talk, background noise, and more can turn a virtual event into a cacophony of sound. And while your family might be used to that in person, something about the smaller screens makes it a bit more jarring.

Consider setting some ground rules (like mute yourself unless you’re talking) or assigning a host. The host can act as a conversation facilitator who can step in, even mute the other attendees, if things take a turn for the crazy.


Use Your Biggest Screen

If more than one person is going to be on your end, you’ll want the biggest screen so attendees in your home can see everyone else. Plus, the bigger your group, the smaller the thumbnails of everyone will be.


Source: @thelaurenscheller via #sharetheeverymom


Come Up With a Fun Theme

Is it a dinner party? Share a recipe list beforehand and be prepared to have your screen set up at the table. Cocktail hour? Suggest everyone make a common drink (or mocktail) and do toasts around the (virtual) room. A pajama party? Dress the part.

Other ideas could include a Charcuterie Challenge, where everyone makes their own board. Or a scavenger hunt. Send the kids off to find a list of fun, meaningful, or random things around the house (and maybe sneak in some adult conversation while they’re off hunting). Or game night, using an app like House Party or try a virtual game of charades.

If the event is in honor of someone, have each member of the group be prepared to share a special memory, funny story, or anecdote about the guest(s) of honor.


However you choose to come together during this time, the most important piece is making the time to connect with those we love.


Read More: How to Host a Virtual Kids’ Birthday Party