Adding some Zip to your Zooms
It was very early in the pandemic that my family embraced Zoom video meetings. As plans to visit in person got canceled, those video-calls were needed just to feel connected. And since my parents taught us to never pass up the opportunity to turn any event into a celebration, it was very quickly decided that our Zoom meetings would be cocktail parties, complete with themes.
One of the earliest was ‘Crazy Hair Day.’ Everyone, from my 8-year-old nephew to my 93-year-old Dad joined in. And so, the Berg Family Themed Zoom Cocktail Parties began.
In the beginning of stay-at-home requirements, fashioning costumes from items scrounged at home was key. Paper bags made a Viking vest, and there were several hats and props created from shipping boxes and tape, with kitchen items becoming accessories.
Weeks progressed, and we started having more involved motifs, with everyone offering theme suggestions. Through the summer there were fairly elaborate ones – Ninjas, Ancient Rome, literary characters. When school resumed, we chose “simpler” ideas for weeknights, and more involved ones for the weekend.
At one point, nephew Leif just simply chose SWORDS as a theme, as an 8-year-old boy would. (Funny side note, we all have them… hmm.)
I often make costumes, one sister creates amazing background art, sometimes we theme our drinks, props, décor, lighting. But we don’t spend a lot of time on these, seriously. Most take 15 to 30 minutes to create. Games, trivia and jokes have also become a tradition.
The themes have added so much levity to our video parties. I highly recommend adding them to yours.
Even though vaccines are beginning to roll out, and an end to the pandemic may be on the horizon, video calls are probably going to be with us for a while. So, here are some tips for adding some Zing to your Zoom.
- Create themes for the Zoom
Pick something easy, like sports teams, denim, hats, or each household chooses a color. Remember that most folks are only visible from the shoulders up, so keep that in mind. And, not every theme has to involve dressing up. My sister has become the master of the Zoom Background. Every call, she creates a hand-drawn giant post-it inspired by the motif. My Mom usually has something theme-related on the buffet behind her. Think outside the box. You can click here for a downloadable list of Theme Ideas.
- Create a Common Experience with Food and Drinks
To help make people feel more together, have everyone prepare the same cocktail, dessert or snack item (share recipes in the invitation a couple of days before). I’ve been known to send cookies ( https://tamaracentral.com/2013/02/20/brown-sugar-shortbread/ ) to folks so that we could all be snacking on them during the video conference.
- Jokes, Puns and Riddles
Use your search engine to find jokes that will fit your theme. There are a lot of humor sites on the internet, and plenty of age-appropriate jokes. Whenever there’s a lull in conversation, pull out a joke!
There are some games that work really well via video conference. Bingo, Scattergories, Farkle, Pictionary, you can even create a Trivia game, tailored to fit your theme! (here’s random trivia generator https://www.randomtriviagenerator.com/?fbclid=IwAR3mVep1dcLeuN1mxmfoSjKf8iLFwGz3qCV9TMTonNkrkCwuM9ggHnUFtnE#/)
Good housekeeping created a good site with suggestions for games here. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/entertainment/g32098665/best-games-to-play-on-zoom/
I hope this gives you some ideas for adding zing to your Zooms. Screen time has been both a blessing and a drudgery during the pandemic. May yours include more joy and togetherness.