How to take your virtual Christmas to the next level

Merry Christmas everyone! The holiday season is right upon us, and this year, Christmas will probably be very different for a lot of you, due to COVID-19 and related SOPs. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good virtual party with your loved ones. Everyone knows how to set up a basic video call, but you often encounter iffy audio and terrible lighting.

What can you do with that? Today, Nic and I are going to teach you to take your virtual Christmas party to the next level! 

Setting up

Setting up your virtual Christmas party is pretty simple—as long as you know what you need. The three things you need: steady video, steady audio, and steady internet. Here are two options: a cheaper method and a method that will require a little spending.

The “Kiam Siap” setup (budget setup)

If you don’t want to spend any money, the easiest thing you can do is to use your smartphone. If you have an iPhone or a flagship phone, that’s probably your best bet for audio and video. Then, all you need to do is  make sure you have a strong WiFi connection. We wouldn’t recommend using your mobile data because that tends to be more unstable.

Steady Setup (Advance setup)

But if you want to invest in a proper setup, we recommend using a PC—plugged into a TV for a larger display. This is because with a PC, you can also hook up external devices such as microphones and webcams, which can significantly improve the experience of your video calls. 

A USB microphone is a really easy way to improve audio quality. Something like the Blue Snowball condenser microphone doesn’t need many drivers, it’s really easy to set up, and it’s basically plug-and-play. When you set it up, remember to also place the microphone away from your computer’s speakers so that you avoid echoes and feedback. Also, try to keep it as close to everyone as possible for the best audio pickup.

Meanwhile, you can also use something like a HD webcam to improve the video quality of your calls. Another tip is to connect your PC to your home router via an Ethernet cable, so that you have the best chance at a stable, consistent connection for your video call. And of course, try to pick a room/setting that is well-lit, so that everyone can be recognised on-call.

Video-call apps/services

The glue that holds your virtual Christmas party together will be the video call. In general, there are a couple of options you can choose from, including WhatsApp, Discord, and Zoom—most of our suggestions below work with PCs, tablets, and smartphones.

You’re probably familiar with all of these apps, but it’s worth noting that WhatsApp Video calls only support up to eight participants at a time—and only on mobile. Meanwhile, Google Meet can handle 100 participants, and Microsoft Teams supports up to 300 participants. But we like Discord, because it’s really stable and user-friendly—although only 50 participants are supported in a single video call. 

Games

But what’s a party without games? And that is why we have also came up with a list of games that will add a lot of fun to your virtual Christmas party. All of these can be played remotely, and you should have your video call running as you play to have the most fun.

JackBox Party Pack

The JackBox Party Pack is a series of party games which are available on Steam, Nintendo Switch, Xbox as well as some other consoles. The packs are made up of some really fun, easy-to-play games–including trivia games, fill-in-the-blanks games, and more. Eight people can play at the same time, and the best bit is that Jackbox is a really interactive game that should be fun for people of all ages. However, it is a little Americanised, so there are some references that you might not understand.

Among Us

Another really cool game to play during your virtual party is the popular game, Among Us. If you haven’t heard of this game, it is basically a modern online version of the classic game of Mafia. The game is divided into imposters and crewmates, and the goal is for the crewmates to complete “tasks”, while the imposters are supposed to kill or distract crewmates from completing their tasks. 

Skribbl.io

Skribbl is a free multiplayer drawing and guessing game. Essentially, Pictionary over the internet, and the best part is that it’s free of charge. 

Spyfall

There’s also another free game called Spy Fall. This is an interrogation-based game to find out who the spy is. Personally, it’s really fun and I’ve had a lot of fun playing with my friends or family.

So that’s about it for today’s episode of How-To-What-Is! If you think that we’ve missed any important element for a virtual party, be sure to leave a comment! This is also our last episode for 2020, but we will most certainly be back in 2021 with Season 2. So remember to leave your suggestions for future episodes in the comments section, or head over to our Facebook group, RKMD!