Holidays are excellent opportunities for the extended family to get together for a holiday dinner. This year, due to the social distancing due to the COVID-19, it’s impossible to gather in the same house as we’re used to for the holiday dinner.
Setting up a video event for the holiday dinner during COVID-19 would allow the entire extended family to get connected while keeping the social distancing needed. If set up correctly, the experience could be very close to being sitting together around the same table.
In this article, we describe:
- How to set up a video event for a holiday dinner
- What tools would work best
- How to set it up for a convenient dinner
Including particular emphasis on getting the elder parts of the family connected.
Choosing the Right Device
A mobile device is very convenient for everyday video calls. You can hold the mobile device, adjust it for the best frame of your face and talk. For dinner setting where you want to be sitting at the table and have your hands free for dinner, holding the device is much less convenient.
For that, you’d prefer a device that is static on the table. This way, the dinner can go more naturally where everyone can see each other, talk, laugh, and eat together. There is no need to deal with the device after the initial setup of the call.
One excellent option is a laptop computer. You can place the laptop on the table. You can adjust the screen so that everybody can be included in the frame as they sit naturally at the table. And the screen is big enough to see everybody without needing to get too close to it.
Another good option is a Smart Speaker with a display like the Amazon Echo Show or Google Nest Hub. These as well can be placed on the table and can be watched conveniently from a distance.
All the models of the Amazon Echo Show, Echo Show 5, Echo Show 8, and Echo Show 10 are good for that as they are all equipped with a camera. Yet the two bigger ones, the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 10, would work better for this purpose from a screen size perspective.
On the Google side, you’d need the Google Nest Hub Max, as it is the only Google smart speaker with a display equipped with a camera.
A tablet might work in this case. For that, you need to have a stand that allows you to place it on the table and adjust it properly to get everybody in the frame as they sit at the table.
Choosing the Right Software
Where it comes to the software, there is a variety of popular video conferencing tools available. For selecting the software tool to be used, you’d need to consider the devices used by all the participants in the video event. Following are some options.
Zoom is a cross-platform application, running on Windows, Mac, and Chromebook. You can run it in a browser, as well as use the Zoom App. The only limitation is that you can’t use Zoom with a smart speaker. All participants, in this case, need to use a laptop.
Skype has a native App for Windows and Mac. You can run Skype in a browser on Windows, Mac, and Chromebook. Skype also has an Alexa skill allowing to participate in a Skype call from an Amazon Echo Show device.
Google Duo has native Apps for Android and iOS devices, so for your dinner, you can use these on tablets. On a laptop, you’ll need to use the browser version. You can also use Google Duo with the Google Nest Hub Max.
FaceTime is an option only when all the video meeting participants have Apple devices. In that case, you can participate in the video event using a Mac computer or an iPad. In that case, you should consider that FaceTime is capturing a relatively narrow-angle of the camera. That makes FaceTime a little limited for this case of capturing multiple people sitting at a table, which is likely the case here.
Getting the Elder Family Members Connected
For the elderly family members, it might be more challenging to join the family video holiday dinner during COVID-19. The challenge might be even more significant if they’ve never done it before, and they don’t have a device set up for that. In that case, a more tech-savvy family member will need to help them get set up and connected.
For Zoom and Skype, the easiest would be if someone creates an account for them and guides them over the phone on how to login to the web version of the software and join the video event.
If the elderly family members have an Amazon Echo Show device, and you picked Skype, you’ll need to set up the Skype account on the Amazon Echo Show. For that, I’d suggest asking their permission to access their Amazon account from the Alexa App on my mobile device and do the setup for them. Need to make sure not to allow Alexa to sync the contacts from your mobile device to the Echo device.
If the elderly family members have a Google Nest Hub device, and you picked Duo, you’ll need to set up the Duo account on the Nest Hub device. In this case, I’d ask their permission to access their Google Home account and set it up for them.
In both cases of a smart speaker with a display, once the set up is done, they can easily join the video event by just a click on the screen button or voice command. This way the entire extended family can enjoy together the holiday dinner during COVID-19.