With reports that the peak of the COVID-19 crisis could occur over the Easter weekend, hosting an online gathering is the best and safest way to celebrate the festivities this year with family and friends outside your house. But as seamless as technology has become, it's a pretty daunting task to get your whole gang on one video conference call. So here's a guide on how to have a virtual Easter get together during lockdown.
Choose The Right Platform
Whether you're planning on spending Easter with a couple of mates or your whole extended family, choosing the right platform is an essential first step. Below are six apps that support group video calls that are perfect for a virtual Easter celebration.
But remember, each platform has a cap on the amount of people you can host, so make sure you do a virtual headcount before collectively deciding on the app of your choice.
Up to 50 people can join a call at once on Skype, which means you don't need to whittle down your guest list. Skype also offers some appealing features such as full-screen video. This app can be downloaded on your phone, computer, tablet, and xbox, and you can also connect it to your Alexa.
You've probably become pretty familiar with this platform over recent weeks for work, so why not use it for family time too? While it is free to use with up to 100 people, you'll be limited to a 40-minute call with three or more guests. So if you're planning on a larger get together, it may be worth investing in the Pro plan for £11.99 a month.
If your fam has already got a group conversation in the iOS messaging app, then starting a Group FaceTime call is easy. You'll need iOS 12.1.4 or later version to support the video calling platform, and it can host up to 32 people.
Similar to Group FaceTime, if you've got a group conversation already going in Google Hangouts, you can start a group video call of up to 10 people.
The same goes for WhatsApp – if you already have a group with your invitees, it's really easy to set up a call with everyone. The catch? WhatsApp calls are limited to four people. So this is only good for people planning a smaller gathering.
Agree A Time With Everyone Beforehand
As cool as it is to call up family and friends whenever you feel like it, don't forget that people may have other plans, so make sure you agree a time slot beforehand. And, if you're guests are on the other side of the world, you've gotta take time zones into account. So make sure you're all on the same page when it comes to what time you're planning to get together virtually.
Decide On What To Do
Transferring a group hangout to an online platform can be tricky, but certain virtual activities are much easier than others.
- Drinks. By now you've probably been invited to a number of virtual happy hours and "pub" quizzes. So you know that having group drinks via video call is actually pretty easy. If you can't be bothered with the stress of cooking, why not set aside an hour two for drinks with a virtual group? All you need to bring is your tipple of choice.
- A meal. If a traditional Sunday roast or a big meal is what you're after, you could attempt to prepare and eat this virtually with guests – but it'll require careful planning. In order to sit down together while the food is still hot, you'll have to think ahead about what meal you're doing and when everything needs to go in the oven in relation to what others are preparing. Start up a group chat and get the timings organised a few days in advance. But even if it turns out to be an utter disaster, it'll be a laugh.
- An Easter egg hunt. If you've got kids or younger siblings and cousins, you could get them involved with the fun and host an online Easter egg hunt. There are a few different options for this – either you could simply hide eggs around your house and follow the kids around with your phone so others can watch them enjoy hunting around. Or, if you want everyone involved, you could ask guests to read out clues for where the kids need to look next.
- A quiz or karaoke session. If you want to kick things up a notch and go really interactive, check out our guides on setting up a virtual pub quiz or karaoke night.
Make Sure Everyone's Set Up & Online
A couple of hours or so before you all go live, make sure the tech is good to go. That means charging up your devices, checking the internet connection, and, most importantly, making sure everyone knows how to use the platform.
Relax & celebrate
Connections may get interrupted and devices may run out of juice, but try not to let these little bumps ruin your virtual Easter get together. It's more important than ever to be thankful for the little things, so try to relax and enjoy the time spent with friends and family.