Staying Connected During the Holidays

Staying Connected During the Holidays

This year has presented itself with challenges unlike any other, and with the holidays fast approaching it’s important to think about how you’ll celebrate and socialize with friends and family. While COVID-19 may keep you from celebrating in-person, new technologies are emerging to make it easier to stay connected. Americans are spending more time at home, in fact, four out of five Americans have yet to return to pre-COVID-19 levels of comfort with “normal” out-of-home activities.

Luckily, individuals and businesses have adapted and have even gotten creative when it comes to keeping connections. a variety of services and apps to help keep you connected, virtual socialization can be confusing and daunting at times. Ongoing research supports the positive health benefits of social connectedness. Engaging with your network and partaking in activities are proven to have the following health benefits:

  • Longer life.
  • Stronger immune system.
  • Improved memory and cognitive skills.
  • Increased motivation for self-care.
  • Lower levels of stress hormones.

When you’re planning your virtual holiday gatherings this year, consider the following options for video calls along with some creative ideas for activities besides chatting.

Keep in Touch with Technology

In recent years, many apps and services have hit the market to help us connect virtually. The well-known Zoom has exploded in popularity, but it’s better suited for business use than casual social gatherings. However, it’s effective for large groups.

There are three plain apps used for casual video calling. FaceTime is the go-to app for Apple (i.e. iPhone, iPad) users. While FaceTime is easy to use, it doesn’t “play nice” with others. It’s incompatible with other platforms -you can only use it to contact those with Apple devices.

An emerging alternative to FaceTime is Google Duo. Not only can you make video calls with the app, but you can also leave messages. The major advantage of Duo is that it’s compatible across all platforms. The Duo app can be found on iOS and Android, plus it also works on your computer via Google Chrome. For larger groups and inclusivity, this is the best app available.

The once photo-centric Instagram has expanded to include many uses, one of which is video calling. Up to four people can be included on a call, and it’s user-friendly. Its new feature, Instagram Rooms, allows for many callers to take part in a chat. With the capability for drop-in settings, people can visit virtually when their schedule allows.

Ideas for Socializing Virtually

The great thing about technology is that you are not confined to structured video calls. Here are some ways to stay connected while participating in a fun, holiday-themed activity.

A great way to get into the holiday spirit is to bake cookies together virtually. Set up your phone, tablet, or laptop in the kitchen, call a friend or relative, and start baking! Making a tasty holiday treat is a fun way to have a conversation while having an activity to keep you occupied. The best part is that in the end, you can show off your fresh baked goods!

Even if you can’t enjoy a holiday meal together physically, you can still share a virtual meal. One way to do this is to prepare a meal when on a video call, like baking holiday treats. For a fun twist, you can buy the other person’s meal. Either they order from a restaurant of choice and you pay them back via PayPal or Venmo, or surprise them by having pizza or Chinese food delivered right to door.

Another idea is to gather your friends or family and host a virtual movie night. If watching with one or two friends, each of you can log into your personal accounts and start watching a movie (or TV show) at the same time. For larger groups, consider a drop-in movie night through Instagram Rooms or a similar app. You can set up a camera facing the TV screen, and people will be able to comment via chat during the film. This option offers flexibility as people can come and go as needed.

While distancing during the holidays can be difficult, there are a myriad of ways to stay connected to those you love and continue to build strong relationships. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is experienced in finding the perfect home for local and new residents. With our skilled and knowledgeable realtors with connections and homes all over Sumter, we’re certain you’ll find a home you love within your budget. For more information, fill out a contact form or give us a call at (803) 775-1201.