How tech can help when you’re home for the holidays


Let’s just get this out of the way: The holidays are likely to look a lot different this year.

From lining up outside a supermarket to buy a turkey and smaller in-home gatherings to near-empty planes and perhaps fewer gifts under the tree, Thanksgiving and Christmas during a global pandemic may seem more like “The Twilight Zone” than “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

But that doesn’t mean you still can’t create a memorable – nay, magical – time for your family this time of year.

In fact, tech can help with the holidays, in several ways, to make the most out of the situation.

The following are five suggestions to make this year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas more festive than forgettable.

Stay connected with video

Fortunately, there are several ways to keep in touch with those who aren’t there with you.

Not only can chat with video – for a more meaningful connection to family and friends practicing social distancing – but you can often have several people on the call at the same time. And all the big services are free. This includes Zoom (even removing its 40-minute limit over Thanksgiving), Skype, Teams, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and more.

But be aware of some limitations. FaceTime, for example, only works with Apple products. Google Duo or Google Meet, on the other hand, require a Gmail account.

All you need is Wi-Fi and a device with a screen, such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, or smart display (like Google Nest Hub Max, Amazon Echo Show, or Facebook Portal).

Perhaps have a glass of wine with family out-of-state, reminisce about past holidays, share photos and videos, and even play interactive games while chatting, via Houseparty or Facebook Messenger.

Smart speakers, like Apple’s HomePod mini ($99), are ideal for getting recipes, setting timers, listening to music or making free phone calls.

Lean on smart speakers

COVID-19 or not, an inexpensive smart speaker – like the $29 Amazon Echo Dot or Google Nest Mini or new Apple HomePod Mini ($99) – help you prep for and enjoy the holidays.

Recommendations from Reviewed:The best smart speakers of 2020

Apple’s HomePod Mini review:Attractive price, more useful than Google speakers

If you’re planning on cooking a turkey (or tofurkey, if you prefer), ask your personal assistant for a good recipe, which includes step-by-step verbal instructions. If you dare, use your voice ask for how many calories are in stuffing or pecan pie. You can also ask to set a timer, too, should you need one while in the kitchen.





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