As the year comes to a close, my family and I are looking forward to the much-needed cheer of the holiday season. For us, the holidays symbolize the joy of reconnecting with friends, spending time with loved ones and together as a community. While we’ve had to be more creative in planning the "together" part this holiday season, the Perry household is still looking forward to our annual family gift exchange during Christmas.
I’m one of the two executive sponsors of Google’s Inter Belief Network, an employee resource group that provides a voice to more than 7,000 Googlers of religious or belief-related communities. Formed in May 2018, we seek to create a thriving community where Googlers are empowered to practice their beliefs, and promote mutual respect, understanding and allyship. I’m celebrating Christmas this year, and my fellow IBN sponsor James will be lighting the menorah each night of Hanukkah with his family.
We hope that you can keep your meaningful holiday celebrations alive this year as well. With Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the Lunar New Year celebrations right around the corner, here are some suggestions for using technology to stay connected with friends, loved ones, and your faith community.
Two weeks before the holiday
As you get ready to virtually light a Menorah, read the Christmas story or exchange red envelopes with each other, here are a few Google tools my family is using that might also help you and yours prepare for the upcoming festivities.
You can share photos with friends and family from throughout the year by creating a “Year in Review'' shared album.
Build a joyful playlist by sending out a Google Form to gather everyone’s favorite songs.
One week before the holiday
Ensure everyone has the final details before the big day. Preparation is key for a successful event!
- Review the responses from the Google Form you sent and create a playlist on YouTube of all the attendees’ favorite songs.
- Arrange the photos you received into a “Year in Review” album into a slideshow via Google Slides.
- Send out a Google Calendar invite to confirm everyone has the correct time, date, playlist, slideshow link and Google Meet link for free video calling for the special get-together.
The day of the holiday
The holiday has finally arrived! Bring a cup of hot chocolate and cookies to the festivities.
- Dial into the Google Meet video calling link to chat, laugh and connect with loved ones. There will be lots of virtual holiday celebrations happening online, so you might consider watching a Menorah lighting, Christmas service, or view a cozyvirtual fireplace on YouTube together. Meet accounts get unlimited calls (up to 24 hours) through March 31, 2021, so you don't have to worry about your gathering getting cut off abruptly.
- Play games on your video call, or track Santa on Google Maps.
- Create an interactive atmosphere by using Google Meet features like breakout rooms to talk to a few family members in a smaller setting, sharing screens to bring up the “Year in Review” slideshow, or the chat box to lift each other’s spirits.
Come together, virtually
My family and I will be using this season to relax, celebrate and reconnect. Connection to one another and to our wider communities is an essential part of our wellbeing, and technology can help bridge physical distance and bring us together in celebration. From my family to yours, we wish safe and healthy holidays to all.