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Virtual Family Reunions: The Next Best Thing to Being There

Family reunions are a time to come together and connect with our family members, both near and far. The planning of them can be as simple as a group text to attend a cookout in the park or dinner at a restaurant. Or they can be much more involved, requiring months of planning—by a committee, no less—and include an agenda packed with family-bonding activities that will take place over several days complete with the requisite family t-shirts letting everyone around know you are part of a special village.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has disrupted many summer family reunion plans. Some were cancelled outright while others have been postponed with the hope that things will get back to normal soon.

Well, Cricket knows that families don’t have to physically get together to be together. Thanks to technology and wireless connectivity, families can safely reunite, right where they are, using their laptops, tablets and cell phones.

Interested in hosting a virtual reunion for your family this summer? Cricket, the wireless carrier focused on inspiring smiles—one connection at a time, has compiled several tips and tools to get you started.

The Invite

Whether in the real world or virtual one, it’s only a family reunion if your family members show up.

The invitation not only provides the details of your event (the who, what, when, where and why) but also builds the excitement. If you know that a lot of your family members are on a particular social network site, consider creating a special group page and invite family members to join. Having a dedicated Family Reunion group page allows you to house all the event details in one place as well as post updates, conduct polls and make special requests such as asking family members to share photos and videos from past reunions or milestone events. It’s also a way to communicate with each other in advance of the reunion. For those family members not active on social media, you simply ask other family members to help spread the news. Here are some instructions for creating groups on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

If you decide you don’t want to go the social media route, you can always send a group text message or email or jazz it up a bit with a customized virtual invitation using an app like Evite, Greenvelope or Smilebox.

The Venue

Besides who to invite, and perhaps what to wear, the most important consideration when planning any type of event is where to have it. For virtual events, we’re talking video conferencing platforms and video-chat apps. Just like in the real world, there are several factors that determine which venue is the right fit—such as the number of people the platform can accommodate, the cost and how you plan to use it. A few to consider are Zoom, Google Hangouts, Google Duo and Houseparty.

The Itinerary

Now that you’ve sent out the invite and selected the venue, it’s time to build the agenda. Of course, simply seeing each other and catching up is great but if you want to do a little bit more here are a few ideas:

  • Create or update your family tree. If you have a large extended family, chances are you’ve had some new additions to the family since the last reunion. Or perhaps no one has ever chronicled your family’s history. Sites like Canva, Family Echo and Smart Draw make it easy to get started.
  • Test family members’ knowledge of family facts and folklore. Apps like Kahoot let you create fun, interactive quizzes on any subject you like; you simply provide the questions and answers. Once the quiz is created, you provide a secret code to your family members so they can log in and take the quiz live, using a compatible video chat app like Zoom.
  • Hold a family reunion talent show. Whether they have talent or just big personalities, hosting a virtual talent show is a great activity for kids and adults alike. One way to pull it off is to request that each family member that wants to participate submit a 2-3-minute video recording of their performance in advance. They can use their wireless phone or tablet to record and upload the video. You can then compile all the recordings into one video or leave them separate and allow family members to play the individual links at their leisure. You may even decide you all will watch them together as part of the overall family reunion festivities.

These are just a few ideas to help get your family reunion plans on track. At the end of the day, it’s not so much about the design of the invite, the platform you choose to connect or even the activities you do. What matters most is spending time with family.