How can I have a great big long-distance holiday?

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Long distance love
By: dvortygirlCC BY 2.0
We're a young military family that anticipates a move soon, so we won't be going home to visit family this Christmas. This isn't the first time (nor will it be the last), but this year is different… It's going to be our daughter's first Christmas, and we very much want to include our parents.

I was thinking of doing a video chat or conference with our family and our parents. Does anyone have suggestions for the best program or app to use? Or a good, but inexpensive webcam? I'd like for us to do more of a conference type program, so that we aren't trying to do it over tiny personal devices.

I need some advice about how to have a great big long-distance holiday! Any suggestions would be much appreciated, especially from anyone who's done this before. Thanks! -Brianna

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  1. I've been in a long-distance relationship with my hubby for many years, so we often have to celebrate important events by Skype – either to include each other or to include family if we're together. We find the most natural time to Skype is over the meal. We'll arrange it so both parties are eating at the same time, and we'll each have a laptop on the table. You'll get a better connection if you can each plug into the internet and plug into the power source rather than relying on wireless and battery. We give thanks for the food together, serve up together etc, and the conversation around the table involves everyone on both sides of the screen.
    The other times we Skype are during the more interactive parts of the event, like arrivals, present giving or sing-songs. For those times we find it's better for the passive side to keep their laptop set up, but for the active side to use a portable device – cell or tablet. We generally acknowledge that at these times the passive side takes a little more of an observer role (esp if there are lots of other people present on the active side). But, using a portable device allows the passive side to really get to feel involved in the action…almost like if they were watching a real-time vlog. We find that with newer cells/tablets, the cameras are far superior to any webcam or laptop webcam we own!
    Happy to answer any questions! I hope you have a wonderful celebration on both sides of your screen!

    5 agree
  2. For my twins first Christmas we couldn't travel due to medical issues. So we had to do a virtual holiday. It actually turned out pretty great. On Christmas eve my sister and 7 year old nephew skyped us and read "A night Before Christmas" while we were all cuddled up in my bed. It was cute because they were in their PJs and in bed and we were doing the same but we were 12 hours away from each other. Then on Christmas morning my parents skyped us using their fancy digital TV (us on my old Mac Book) and we unwrapped presents together. My dad made us a 'cool grandpa's playlist" to play all day. And then at Dinner we Face Timed with the In-Laws and cousins and kept the phone on the table the whole time. They passed the phone around their big family gathering and we got to talk to everyone while we ate.

    My suggestion is us what ever technology everyone has. My parents don't have I-phones but did have laptops and fancy digital TVs with Skype. My In-laws didn't have a computer with them but did have a cousin with an I-phone. That way no real pre-planning or worrying about new technology.

    3 agree
  3. When I was living abroad for the Peace Corps, my boyfriend (now husband) and I came up with all sort of innovative uses of Skype. Skype and Google Hangouts work great for free chatting. We used to do things like eat dinner together on Skype and cook the same recipe or put the same movie on Netflix and watch it with Skype up the corner, so that we could see the other's reactions and chat.
    I image you could do some of these things with family. You could have the laptop at the table and eat dinner at near the same time. Likewise, if you all have a family Christmas movie like Charlie Brown or A Christmas Story, you can watch it at the same time, with Skype on a smaller device. Also, with a younger child, you could play the same Christmas carols and do sing alongs or dance parties.
    Skype and Google were pretty much the only way I made it through my two years abroad 🙂 They help so much!

    2 agree
  4. I would suggest hooking in the video of your computer to your tv screen (and having your parents do the same) and a webcam on top of or near the tv so that when you look at it, you'll be looking at them. If you arrange gift opening so that the TV is like a sofa, it will be sort of like they are opening gifts with you.

    2 agree
  5. I'm a little bit different, but I moved across the country from my tight-knit immediate family a few years ago. It really bothered my parents that I wasn't there for birthdays, holidays, etc., so they always facetime with me during those events. Like others said, that was the technology we all had and found easiest to use. Sometimes this has taken the form of them facetiming me when out to dinner to celebrate something and passing around someone's phone, sometimes it's facetiming me on my birthday and they'll watch as I open a couple presents they sent me, sometimes it's a longer thing, etc.

  6. I'd suggest if you want to put the video on a big screen like a TV then invest in a good quality web-cam. I did a lot of research before broadcasting our wedding online for family who couldn't make it, and I bought a Logitech webcam (http://amzn.com/B006JH8T3S). It records really good video and sound and the great thing is it's super easy to use – you just plug in the USB cable and away you go.
    Skype, like everyone else above has said, really is the best and easiest to use programme out there for video calling. I can add to the many who used it to maintain long-distance relationships for years!

  7. We did Skype present opening when my sister was overseas. Midnight for her so it had just turned Christmas day and Christmas morning for us. Then we had breakfast and she a late hot chocolate it wasn't perfect but we made it work!

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