10 ways to make family video calls more fun

We have been supporting our residents and care teams throughout the lockdown. As we continue to keep our doors closed for visitors, we recognise that this is extremely difficult for everyone, residents and relatives alike. Our aim is to keep the rate of infection down. Our wellbeing teams are committed to facilitating calls and video conferencing with loved ones.

It just goes to show that it does not matter how old you are, you can always embrace the wonders of modern technology. Our residents have been using tablets to attend their Tai Chi classes via video link, smart phones to access video calling and making videos to help keep in touch with their loved ones.

Video calls are helping millions of families stay connected right now – but with daily life getting slightly repetitive for many of us, it is easy to run out of things to talk about.

Switching it up with some good, old-fashioned organised challenges can boost the amusement factor – and give you all something to talk about that is not just what you had for lunch.

Want some new family video call challenges to try? Here are 10 ideas…

  1. Games night

They usually descend into bickering and someone always cheats but that is half the fun of a family games night – and being miles apart does not have to mean play goes on pause. Depending how tech-savvy your relatives are, there are loads of options for games to play on video platforms like Zoom, with online versions inspired by everything from Cards Against Humanity (playingcards.io has a similar concept) to bingo doing the rounds.

If you want to keep the tech side as simple as possible, family favourites like charades and Pictionary work well – just use real pens and paper and hold your artworks up to the camera.


2. Family bake off

The fact we are a nation of bakers has really come to the fore right now. Mixing dough is extremely calming – then you have the soothing aromas of baked goods wafting through the house and the joy of tucking into your creations.

All families love a bit of healthy competitive fun, so why not set some bake off challenges for your video calls? You can each show off your masterpieces (or mishaps) then enjoy a slice with a cuppa as you chat.

3. Quizzes

Continuing the competition theme (does sibling rivalry ever run out of steam?), quizzes are an easy way to inject some organised fun into those group catch ups too. You could make it a weekly event, taking turns to be question master. There are loads of ready-made and interactive downloads online (try a trivia generator), or simply create your own. It is good brain training for anyone missing work too.


4. Memory lane

A good trip down memory lane can be super soul-soothing and an easy way to have a good laugh. Why not use some of your calls to ramble and reminisce? You could even use prompts to get into the flow of it, one week everyone could share a favourite Christmas or birthday memory. Or it could be a chance to learn more about each other, by sharing memories that are not from shared family occasions, such as stories from your schooldays.

5. Create a playlist

Everyone thinks of a song then chats about why they picked it or why it is special to them. You can take turns to play them and create a longer family playlist as the weeks go by.


6. Dinner date

There’s no doubt being able to stay in touch so easily is something we’re all immensely grateful for right now – but pandemic or no pandemic, we’re still human and will still have days where keeping up the to-do list gets overwhelming. This is where some crafty multitasking comes in handy – how about having a video call over dinner? That way, you are eating together (sort of) and you can chat and feel connected but in a relaxed, informal way.

7. Story time

A great one for aunties, uncles and grandparents – reading a story via video call is a lovely way to keep up those connections with the little ones in your family. If it is a picture book, their mum or dad can take snaps of the text beforehand and message it to the reader, so the youngster can sit and turn the pages while listening.


8. Mix up the backgrounds

If you are using Zoom for your video calls, you can change the background with any photo you like – cue endless fun and games. You could set challenges to see who comes up with the most outrageous or silly themes, or just dig out some embarrassing snaps of your brother from the early-Eighties.


9. Dress up

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I wouldn’t get dressed up during lock down for anyone, except @howtoglitteraturd I’ve been a patron of @coppafeelpeople for years and know how important the work they do is. Like so many charities Coppafeel has and will suffer due to the pandemic so I’ll do what I can to help them rebuild after all of this is over. Kris, the founder (and my dear mate) has initiated a #formalfriday to inspire us to dress up today and also donate £5 to @coppafeelpeople I’m currently editing my book whilst dressed like Diana Ross. Me and Jesse are tag teaming working from home at the moment. I’m maxing out my editing hour in heels whilst he deals with shouting children. ( @beyondskin ) I nominate @bryonygordon @poornabell @angelascanlon @therealgokwan @hotpatooties Do your own #formalfriday and nominate five people #coppafeel

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Taking the silliness another step further, as Instagram and TikTok have shown us, fancy dress is also catching on (some families are making a very impressive effort!). Rummaging through the house for props and makeshift costumes is half the joy. Or simply dig out your finest garb and dress up for the occasion.


10. Arty party

If baking is a flop, make it an art challenge instead. Start with family portraits – you can flip coins to see who does who or rotate until you have a full family set each. If nothing else, it will be a laugh, and you can frame your works of art as a funny keepsake.


If you have a relative or friend living in an Encore Care Home and would like to speak to them, please get in touch with the wellbeing team of that home to co-ordinate a suitable day and time. Some of our care homes are also posting information on their Facebook page, so worth checking these out too.