jlink
Sunday, May 26, 2019

These days technology is everywhere, infiltrating all parts of our lives. While some may cringe at its ubiquity and try to escape its spread, others embrace it. Most people, though, are just looking to find the balance of normalcy and acknowledge the trend life is taking while incorporating normal amounts of tech into life. Many look to find technology that will make life easier, and in this respect technology has found ways to assist in entertaining.

Paperless Invites

There’s nothing like the feel of an actual invitation that comes in the mail. But when time is of the essence and budget is at the forefront of one’s mind, electronic invites are a great way to get the job done and the word out. Whether it’s a simple Evite invitation or a more formal Paperless Post or Punchbowl card in an inbox, there are features to manage your guest list, send directions, message guests and follow up with recipients.

Sound Systems

Many houses have fancy sound systems set up with speakers hidden in ceilings and corners, but today’s options are even easier to use and quite affordable. Products like the Amazon Echo sync to a music account such as your Amazon downloads, Pandora or Spotify, and can play music with a simple voice command. With premium features, these music services allow you to customize a playlist from their extensive databases. Just ask Alexa to play that song list when the guests start coming. Recent Bluetooth updates to the Amazon Echo include a speaker system designed with the party host in mind, and can be used for better sound quality during playback, even at the higher volumes you might need for a party or other event.

Shneur Garb, The Simcha Link’s resident tech expert, clued readers in to an incredible new music service called SoundCloud. “This is an open-source platform that not only has current known artists, but is a place for emerging artists to showcase their music.” Garb himself used SoundCloud for the Chabad menorah parade in Hackensack. “I just grabbed a Bluetooth speaker, asked for Chanukah music and had a playlist from some guy I had never heard of but had an awesome selection of music,” he said.

Thermostats and Lighting

Many families have switched their home thermostats to smart thermostats. Brands such as Nest and Ecobee claim to learn your family’s habits. In addition, the temperature can be adjusted from your smartphone so if everyone starts sweating mid-meal, you can discreetly change the setting and keep your guests comfortable.

With WiFi-controlled bulbs, lighting is another aspect of a party that can be adjusted and maintained from the comfort of your device. The choice of brightness and dimming options, and even bulb color, is literally at your fingertips with today’s electricity. For the real high-tech entertainers, look for bulbs that come with a speaker and can change color to the beat of the music.

Garb did warn that sometimes these lights are not as simple as they seem, so be sure to tinker with them before using them at your event.

Activities

There’s nothing like pass the present, pin the tail on the donkey or relay races at a birthday party. For older kids and adults, a smartphone can bring more games for these events. Kahoot and other similar games allow the “owner” to write questions with multiple choice answers. Participants are given a game ID to sign in and play, and see who can not only answer the most questions correctly, but also who can answer fastest.

At a recent sheva brachot made by the kallah’s friends, one of the hosts prepared a Kahoot trivia game for the guests to play. This can work for baby or bridal showers, Purim seudahs or any other type of gathering where the majority of guests have access to smartphones.

Another WhatsApp Group?

“WhatsApp is an incredible tool for communication,” said Garb. While many people already think to use a WhatsApp group for small events like a group potluck, when making a wedding or bar/bat mitzvah, use a WhatsApp chat to help coordinate everyone’s time and services.

With smart devices an emerging technology, halachic questions may arise during use, many that were not initially anticipated. Please check with your rabbi should you have any questions.