By Grace Walsh
As we head towards the three-week lockdown mark, many of us are wondering how we can take our celebrations online and have a virtual Easter party.
Most Easter weekends are traditionally consist of delicious food and quality time spent with loved ones, but this weekend will be a little bit different for everyone across the UK.
But lockdown doesn’t have to necessarily mean that all your plans have to be put on hold. While you won’t able to host an Easter egg-hunt with your whole family or have them over for Sunday lunch, there is plenty you can do to celebrate Easter.
We spoke to tech expert Jonny Pelter, the founder of SimpleCyberLife.com, on exactly how to set up the best video call in your home, and get the most out of video chatting so you can still catch up with family over a bite to eat this weekend.
Here’s how to have your very own virtual Easter party at home…
Firstly, set up a video chat with your family
Celebrate with relatives and friends this Easter with a video chatting app, where you can stream your activities (even lunch!) to each other and join in the fun - wherever its being had. This is the expert advice on how to video call...
From Skype and Facetime to Zoom, there seems to be loads of different apps that you can use to video chat with family members. But with rumours around the safety of some of them, which one should you choose?
One of the more established platforms, Skype allows you to make “Chats” and group people together, then make a call to everyone at the same time. It’s a free service, as long as everyone who you are calling also has the app.
However, some Skype users have reported frequent “freeze up” moments when the video doesn’t transmit properly and you’re stuck with a frozen screen – on your end or theirs.
Facetime is Apple’s own version of Skype, so if you own an iPhone or other Apple product like an iPad then you’ll already have this installed as an app on your phone. To find out how to group-call on Facetime, watch of this video.
But you won’t be able to use Facetime to call someone who doesn’t also have an Apple device.
Zoom has reportedly better connection to the internet, with fewer incidents of “freezing” compared to Skype. The basic features are free, and you can add up to 100 people into the meeting.
However, it’s only available for up to 40 minutes at a time. After that, you’ll have to restart the call, which could get irritating if you’re planning on chatting for a while.
What’s the best video chatting service to use in our expert's opinion?
Zoom - as Jonny says, “It’s probably the best, considering the fact that they’ve just rolled out a whole new set of security settings. So it’s getting much more secure, even more so than others that are as popular. Zoom is one of the best.”
Download it and get started here.
How to set up your family video call
To get the most out of your video call, it’s important to have a good WIFI connection so that the picture doesn’t freeze. Jonny says that there’s a lot you can do to improve your WIFI signal, some of them very simple.
Don't go near windows
He says, “People shouldn’t be putting WIFI routers by windows because the vast majority of the signal will go outside of your house. This is because the connection is always on the roadside of the property.
“The best place to put them is quite high up, completely unobstructed. On a high shelf would be good because then it also broadcasts to the second floor and it tends to mean that it’s not obstructed by things like sofas, cupboards, things like that.”
Position your device, like a phone or laptop on a raised level above your dining room table, for example. There are plenty of simple apparatus online that you can do to raise the eye-line of the came on your device, but if you don’t have time to order these, just stack some sturdy books and balance it on them.
If that doesn’t work and you’re still struggling with your WIFI connection, you can buy a WIFI extender which “rebounds your signal and pushes it further. It works great – naturally not as strong as the original router but it means you can work from somewhere that you weren’t able to before.”
What’s the best time of day to have your virtual Easter party?
Jonny says that to get the best internet connection, you should avoid making the video call at peak times. In the early morning and in the evenings, people local to you are watching films or using the internet so there is less to go around.
Have the call either in the mid-morning or late afternoon instead, when less people are using the internet.
How can you make your video call better quality?
“The number one issue tends to be lighting.” Jonny says, “You can get these little tripod lights for photo-shoots which can be quite good. But you can also just use a lamp – position it behind the camera, facing you for the best silhouette.”
Jonny also suggests avoiding any big overhead kitchen lights for example. “If it’s in the evening and there’s a lot of artificial light, your faces are going to cast shadows and it’s going to look odd.”
Although audio tends not to be an issue when using modern devices, if you’re speaking in a large space, Jonny suggest investing in some small microphones that you can use across the room. This one from Amazon for example, you can just plug into your device through the headphone port.
Don't forget the main event - Easter lunch
Once you’ve got your video call set up, you can carry on with your Easter celebrations as you otherwise would have. This, of course, includes a delicious Easter lunch. There’s no reason why your family can’t join in this with you, by placing the camera at the top of your table, you can all eat together and it will almost feel like you’re in the same room.
Include some games in your virtual Easter party
If you’re used to playing games around the table with family or friends at Easter, you can do the same this year. Keep that camera exactly where it is and get everyone involved in a quiz perhaps. Take a look at this one from our weekend plan – along with other great virtual events that you can take part in with your family, all happening this weekend.
You could also enjoy some Easter crafts together. These easy craft projects for beginners are perfect. Or, if you want to decorate your house with Easter-themed decorations try these easter crafts for kids. You can share ideas and have a crafts session together, comparing pictures and videos of the finished articles.
Although spending this bank holiday Easter weekend is lockdown is not ideal, there's no reason why you can't make it just as special as every other year, using video chatting to have your own virtual Easter party and connect with loved ones in a whole new way.
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