Hello all! My name is Morgan Cutter and I recently joined the team at The Practice Space as our new AmeriCorps VISTA Member and Project Manager. With everything that has happened in 2020, this year has been one full of trials and adaptations for many of us. As we head into the holiday season, this year will look very different for many families in terms of how we gather and how we find community in one another. Especially now, as many are physically distanced from their loved ones, it can be difficult to use your voice to express your feelings and maintain relationships remotely. Today, I am sharing a few tips and tricks for how to use your voice to stay connected with loved ones this year! Here are some of my favorite ways that my loved ones and I have continued to stay connected over the past few months:
- Have a presentations night! One thing that my friends and I did this year was have a presentations night. This can be a great opportunity to both practice your public speaking skills and share about a topic you’re interested in! We each put together an informative presentation based on a topic of our choosing and presented our topic to the rest of the group. Topics can be silly, like who would play each person from your group in a movie and why, to something more educational like why it’s important to exercise your right to vote!
- Plan a virtual scavenger hunt. A few months into quarantine, my family and I did a Zoom scavenger hunt as an excuse to say hi to everyone and break out of our normal quarantine routines. My mother and aunt collaborated on creating a list of items for the scavenger hunt and everyone on the call would have 30 seconds to find said item and run back to the Zoom screen first. The first person to announce their item to the group and show it on the screen won each round! Here’s a photo of my extended family and I after our Zoom scavenger hunt.
- Put together a game night. Another fun way to stay engaged with friends and family via Zoom is to put together a game night! Many classic board games now have browser extensions or app versions that you can play with people virtually. Pictionary and Charades are fun ways to practice using your non-verbal communication skills and are also great games to play virtually via Zoom!
- Send a Zoom celebration kit. Another way to spice up your Zoom gathering is to send each person who plans to attend your event an activity kit in the mail! This could be anything from cookie decorating supplies to get together and decorate cookies, to matching outfits/decorations for any celebration!
- Write a good, old-fashioned letter! Earlier this year, I had the honor of graduating from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with my Bachelor’s degree. When California’s first stay at home orders were put in place, I moved back in with my parents to quarantine and didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to many of my close friends at school. To let everyone know I was thinking about them, I ordered photos of some of my favorite memories with various friends, got some cute stationary and wrote each person a hand-written letter about the memories depicted in the photos. Being able to write and effectively communicate your thoughts is an important first step when it comes to using your voice to vocalize them. It was so fun to begin to hear from people as they received their letter + photos in the mail and the gesture gave us the excuse to reconnect and catch up via text or phone call! This can also be a great way to stay connected with loved ones who may not have the means or technology necessary to get on a Zoom call with you.
- Host a trivia night. There are various trivia apps that you can download with tons of predetermined trivia categories to choose from, or you can create your own jeopardy-esque trivia game via google slides! Each person on your call could even research their own category and practice their public speaking skills by presenting the answers to their questions. Topics could include fun facts about different members of your family, history about your family tree, trivia about the holiday that you are celebrating and so much more!
- Put together care packages! During my freshman year away at college, my mom started sending me care packages every few months. She would include anything from restaurant gift cards and letters from the rest of my family to my favorite snacks or self care items like face masks. Last month, she decided to send me a COVID care package with new masks, my favorite scent of hand sanitizer and some snacks. It totally brightened my day and also made me realize that I was well overdue for some new (clean) masks.
At the end of the day, staying connected with the people you care about this year and any year is all about letting your loved ones know that you care. Don’t forget to practice using your voice to communicate and find ways to keep up with your public speaking skills over the holiday break! With so many people going through a variety of difficulties this holiday season, the small gesture of sending a card in the mail or putting together a fun activity for your next Zoom call can truly go a long way.