Conversation-lubricating Christmas Zoom/Webex crafts
December 6, 2020 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Looking for project ideas for upcoming Christmas Zoom calls to make people more comfortable. Special wishes inside :)

We've had a few small family Zoom calls with COVID, and they're awkward. Nobody knows what to say (and I personally find myself defaulting to typical business-meeting behavior, since I spend 40 hours a week in business telecons). Planning for the larger family calls to come on Christmas, which are sure to be even more awkward with more people, we decided that having some crafty activities would be a good idea to have happening at the same time. We know some branches of the family will be resistant (the same ones who haven't participated in calls so far...), so we're going to send 'kits' of supplies to everyone, and so we need to get this going soon. But what activity/project?

Ideally it will meet the following criteria:
-doesn't need 100 ingredients/tools beyond what normal people have (the kits will be whatever we can't expect people to have on hand, but they need to be purchasable at Micheals, Target, etc.)
-interesting to do
-a little goofy - in my mind, if the final product is going to be laughable no matter what, people don't worry about perfection so much
-completable within an hour
-for adults for the most part; no need to worry about child safety

So we've ruled out things like knitting or crocheting something and complicated paper crafts or origami (there are going to be some easily frustratable people on these calls...we need something do-able by anyone). I have a sense that paint might be good to involve and maybe stick-on google eyes. One random idea that was kicked around was somehow making those cardboard cutouts of people's heads you see in the audience of NHL games lately, but in a crafty way, and I can't think of how to do that.

But no need to limit it to these embryonic ideas. Are you doing something like this with your family?? what are you doing?

Do you have any ideas for crafty, simple, interesting, goofy things we can do with our distant family over Zoom?
posted by Tandem Affinity to Human Relations (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've done a few with my Girl Scout troop, because we can't meet face-to-face now. We did cake decorating, where everyone came to the meeting / Zoom call with a cake and some cake decorating supplies (whatever they had on hand) and then one of the leaders revealed a photo, and they had to try to duplicate it. It was goofy, not competitive. We're going to do the same with gingerbread houses at our next meeting (they can get supplies from me or use their own). We did a Bob Ross paint-along where they could use whatever art supplies they had; that one some people took too seriously, but that's a personality thing.

I'm thinking of getting everyone a "mystery box" from Michael's, if they do that at our local store, and open them together and see what people come up with.

It's good to have a time limit, to help perfectionists.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:31 PM on December 6, 2020

Depending on the family sense of humor, use your sports-audience cardboard standee idea but assign everyone a random other family member to draw and then try to guess who's who? Maybe they sell generic standees or masks so you have a starting point?
posted by february at 3:49 PM on December 6, 2020

I just participated in a friend's birthday Zoom where we painted along to some Bob Ross videos on YT. The fun part came in that none of us had proper oil paints, so, "What do you mean BLEND, Bob, these are colored pencils/markers/etc," came up a lot and we got some very varied interpretations.
posted by curious nu at 4:06 PM on December 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Perhaps not quite what you're asking, but we had great success around Thanksgiving by limiting all Zoom calls to 15 minutes (we had 9 over several days). There was a hard stop, even if someone was in the middle of a sentence. Crafts wouldn't have worked for this group, but there was a theme for each call.

Themes that seemed to work:
--What is this object? (bring random doodad to call and everyone guesses what it is)
--One interesting fact about your community (which led to a few impromptu Zoom walks)
--What are you thankful for this year?
--Family history vignettes (with one person assigned to tell at each call)
--What are you cooking for dinner?
posted by luckdragon at 4:42 PM on December 6, 2020

I would definitely do decorating gingerbread people. Depending how far, you could make them or buy them and mail them to people, with pre-made frosting tubes all ready to frost. Something nice to eat, too.

I've also found that watching TV together is a great way to bond with my friends when we don't have any news to talk about. If you pick something that people have seen or don't need to follow too carefully--the Grinch, or a parade, or something like that--you can watch it when there's nothing to say and talk over it when you want to. (Or, if people want to concentrate and are savvy enough, you can do text chat while you watch, which I find is a better way to actually watch a show you want to see).

If you have any digital home movies, you can do it with those.
posted by gideonfrog at 4:45 PM on December 6, 2020

Make tree ornaments. Several of these seem pretty idiot proof.
posted by shadygrove at 5:12 PM on December 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Not exactly crafty but some things that have worked great for me in similar situations are:
- have folks bring and share a favorite or family recipe. You can facilitate the recipes being shared like in a shared document and everyone will have them. Folks on the call take turns talking about the recipe and sharing stories.
- using the polling feature to “play” brackets. Set up two 8 item polls with 2 options each around a topic (like favorite Halloween candy or favorite Thanksgiving side dish or favorite type of pie). Then folks on the call vote but the debating is the fun/ discussion part.

I’ve also been on tons of crafty calls - embroidery is pretty easy, just making felt creatures/ornaments with felt and glue (stitching optional for folks with those skills), folding and decorating one page zines, etc.
posted by leastlikelycowgirl at 5:17 PM on December 6, 2020

Paper plants, maybe? I did it as a group craft project once and had a fun time, and the materials would be at Michael's.
posted by foxfirefey at 5:31 PM on December 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

One side of my family did goofy Hometasking things for Thanksgiving. These are short goofy challenges you do beforehand and show the results after.

E.g.: "1. Choose a room in your apartment. 2. Using only things in this room, make a turkey. You have ten minutes starting now!" We got: pillows and blankets folded up; kitchen things taped together; some drawings; a dance interpretation; and a ukulele representing a roasted turkey.

The original show gets half its comedy from grading the results, but I don’t think that’s needed.

If there’s more than one person in a household, they can cooperate or race or one of them does it and the other shoots a documentary.
posted by clew at 5:38 PM on December 6, 2020

Maybe some easy tin punch crafts? It's vaguely "holiday" and the materials are cheap (I'm thinking more of this sort of thing but there are others).

For a birthday party (for grownups but it was meant to replicate a kid's party), I bought suncatchers and then provided permanent markers to color. There are holiday ones. You can buy glass paint markers but I found permanent markers were just fine for this purpose.

I know you said no origami, but there plenty of simple origami, especially of the modular type, like this.

Maybe not quite right (and maybe more than you want to spend), but the childhood "potholder" looms are hip right now and they're easy and fun. There are also some good friendship bracelet kits out there, but those are maybe less useful.

There are certainly a lot of ideas about how to decorate clear glass Christmas ornaments (it could just be filling them with things -- I know at one point, I just cut cellophane into strips, scrunched it up and stuffed it inside).
posted by edencosmic at 6:10 PM on December 6, 2020

Decorating cookies or cupcakes is always a hit. People can get as simple or fancy as they want, no frustration as long as there are no "make the most perfect rosette" challenges.

Ornament-making can be fun, too, if a little messy. Send empty clear ornaments, glitter, and paint pens. Just get the plastic kind, or pack them very carefully.
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:27 PM on December 6, 2020

How about snow globes.
There are tons of instructions online and everyone has jars. You could leave it up to people to fill them later if they want so it's not so messy.
posted by BoscosMom at 7:56 PM on December 6, 2020

Or just leave them dry. That first one in the link is
cute and doesn't look l like it has liquid at all.
posted by BoscosMom at 7:59 PM on December 6, 2020

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