4 Fun, Easy Ways to Prevent Your Family Holiday Zoom From Becoming a Dumpster Fire of Confusion

As soon as Uncle Gene unmutes himself, this is going to be smooth sailing

Amy Shearn
Published in
2 min readDec 21, 2020


Family having a Zoom call over the holidays.
Photo: Marko Geber/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Is Nana still mad that you’re not flying across the country to superspread with the whole extended family this holiday season? Well listen, Nana (and the part of each of us that is secretly still so sad about everything still being virtual): A holiday Zoom can be even more fun than an IRL get-together. And definitely more efficient. You just have to think of it like you would any meeting. For the next hour (max!), your job is to create fun‚ which takes just a little bit of work.

1. Have a host

Actually, have two. You and the funniest family member you can book. Like with any meeting, someone needs to be in charge, and, as Jessica Powell writes, “Whoever owns the meeting needs to keep it moving.”

2. Have a schedule

Anyone who’s ever hosted a children’s birthday party knows that a tight schedule is all that’s between an event host and utter chaos. Family trivia, pandemic bingo, maybe some storytelling time? As we’ve all learned by now, conversation doesn’t exactly flow freely on group video chat. Go with the stiltedness, and have your hosts lead the group through the agenda of fun.

3. Have a system

This has been a golden era for the sentence, “Oh, oops, no, sorry, you go ahead.” To avoid a messy pile-up of Zoomterruptions, adopt a system for indicating who would like to speak next. Ask family members to hold up a hand or a certain object—ornament? menorah? very large glass of wine?—when they want to speak, and say that you’ll call on them.

4. Ask specific questions

“What are you most proud of this year?” “What song got you through 2020?” “Who’s your favorite family member: Nana or Nana?” Sounds formal, but it’s actually much less annoying than informal conversation, which works well enough in real life but just doesn’t work on video, and it ensures everyone gets to take part. Even Uncle Gene.



Amy Shearn
Writer for

Formerly: Editor of Creators Hub, Human Parts // Ongoingly: Novelist, Essayist, Person