5 Things That Could Go Wrong with Your Zoom Thanksgiving (& How to Avoid Them)

In the age of social distancing, virtual gatherings and celebrations have become pretty common. In-person meet-ups have turned into virtual check-ins and, now that Thanksgiving is upon us, many families are opting for a non-traditional event.

For plenty of us, this could mean celebrating our first Thanksgiving alone or without traveling to see family. But thankfully, there's still the option to celebrate with loved ones by hosting a Zoom Thanksgiving, complete with virtual activities and festive fall recipes.

That said, as with any virtual group meeting, things don't always go according to plan. However, with these simple tips, you can enjoy a fun Zoom Thanksgiving that's (mostly) hassle- and stress-free. Keep scrolling for five things that could go wrong, and how to avoid them.

zoom thanksgiving

What Is A Zoom Thanksgiving?

Due to the current pandemic, families are now turning to Zoom Thanksgiving, which is a safer alternative for those who want to celebrate the holiday with their loved ones. All family members have to do is join a virtual call through the video communications app, Zoom, and let the fun commence. However, at least one person will need to have an account to create the meeting, which allows up to 100 participants.

To offer some background on why so many are trying this new approach, the Centers for Disease Control revealed that having large indoor gatherings with people from outside your home is considered a high-risk activity. However, a lower-risk option is having a "virtual dinner" that involves "sharing recipes with friends and family." Sign us up.

Potential Problem #1: There Are Sound And Audio Issues

Imagine that your family is in the middle of giving their individual toasts. And now, it's your aunt's turn. She smiles brightly and begins to speak as she wields her glass—but there's just one problem. No one can hear a word that she's saying. She continues to speak on mute for 10 minutes straight while the rest of the family tries to tell her that she's been muted the entire time. But she keeps on talking, unaware that her mic is off.

How to avoid it: Consider sending out clear instructions for everyone's Zoom and audio settings before the festivities begin. And just to be on the safe side, choose a tech-savvy relative who can act as the family's personal tech expert. This way, they can chat with relatives by phone and walk them through any issues they're having while everyone else keeps the Zoom fun going.

Potential Problem #2: Everyone Keeps Talking At The Same Time

Your Zoom call will of course be filled with excited relatives and loved ones who are eager to catch up with one another. And so naturally, when it comes to any discussion, it's likely that literally everyone will keep trying to get a word in edgewise—even if that means talking over each other. It's pretty understandable, seeing as how this is a rare opportunity for the family to "get together." But having to listen to what sounds like a dozen conversations at once can be...well, overwhelming.

How to avoid it: To maintain order, consider designating an unofficial host and create an agenda. We know, we know—organizing something formal sounds like a bit much, but planning ahead can ensure that things run smoothly, and it doesn't have to be super official. An emcee can easily set the atmosphere on Zoom, establish some general rules and help carry out the agenda to avoid chaos. Keep in mind when choosing this person that it's helpful if they have a natural ability to take charge and keep people entertained.

Potential Problem #3: There's Nothing To Talk About

Perhaps it started out with everyone talking at once, but only 15 minutes later, it seems like everyone ran out of things to talk about. Or maybe most of your relatives aren't very talkative, which can lead to quite a few awkward silences. Either way, the idea should be to keep everyone engaged and entertained. And while that can be a challenge with the limits of our technology, it's definitely not impossible.

How to avoid it: This one ties back to the need for some kind of agenda—and it could be super simple. If you suspect that the family will run out of things to chat about, try to include some cool activities, whether it be trivia, Pictionary, Taboo or just a series of fun questions. And if you really want to shake things up, throw in a prize or two.

Potential Problem #4: The Gathering Drags On For Too Long

In case you haven't heard, Zoom is temporarily lifting its 40-minute time limit for free meetings on Thanksgiving Day, which means you won't have to worry about getting cut off in the middle of your Thanksgiving toast. However, this also means that your most talkative relatives could drag the event on for more than two hours. And no one wants that.

How to avoid it: As you plan ahead, set a specific time for the Zoom gathering to end. And of course, let all of your guests know ahead of time when you plan to wrap things up. If there's one family member who tends to launch into hour-long stories or go off on random tangents, then consider making a plan with your emcee to set time limits for individual speakers (or at the very least keep things moving along).

Potential Problem #5: Random Zoom-bombers Pop Up

Maybe your sibling's roommate just happens to appear in the background with no pants on during the Zoom call. Or maybe your relative and his partner forget to turn off the camera before showing some seriously over-the-top PDA.. We've all been there before, at some point. But thankfully, there are ways to prevent these kinds of scenarios.

How to avoid it: As you create your agenda, encourage participants to join from locations that are nice and private (especially those who live with roommates). And even more importantly, make sure that everyone is familiar with how to turn off their mics and cameras if they need to do something personal. It'll definitely save the family some awkward moments.

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Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...