If you’ve gotten a hold of a Gear VR recently, then you’ve probably already downloaded near everything in the store on your visual buffet through the first consumer-ready virtual reality headset. If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving with a family get-together, the right set of apps and a few hard-won tactics will let you show everyone why you’ve gone crazy for VR—and why they should too.

You’re guaranteed to be talk of Thanksgiving with your new confangled ‘virtual goggles thing’, but you can’t just walk in and plop the headset on the noggins of your unsuspecting family. You need to come armed with the right apps for the right people, for everyone from your cousin Darrel who got divorced and immediately bought a house boat, to your 80-year old grannie who remembers when nickels had pictures of bumblebees on them.

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Image based on photo courtesy Steve Voght (CC BY-SA 2.0)

By all accounts, the library system is a big unfiltered mess on the Gear VR platform at the moment (the price of being an early adopter). One of the best ways to confuse people is to just put them straight into the main menu, thereby placing the burden of working through the scores of choices on them. It’s easier to just explain a certain app and launch that directly from the smartphone-based menu so you don’t have to essentially do blind technical support to get them where they need to be.

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Oculus Video

Oculus Video has it all; movies for rent or purchase, trailers, short films, beautifully rendered theater spaces (even on the Moon!), nearly everything you’d need to convince someone who’s never been in a VR headset—making it by far the easiest and most relatable to all ages.

You won’t need to stretch any imaginations here when you throw Uncle Darrel into The Godfather (1972) in his own private theater.

  • Cost: Free
  • Gamepad: Not required

Titans of Space

Titans of Space is also a crowdpleaser—suitable for everyone from the youngest to the oldest house guest, but is especially mind blowing for anyone who’s lived through the US/USSR space race. As an educational app, Titans can help you explain how VR is changing the way we learn.

Just make sure to tell them that it’s a 10+ minute experience, and that it can induce a little nausea in those easily susceptible to motion sickness.

  • Cost: Free
  • Gamepad: Not required

Ocean Rift

Some of us have a built-in fear of going under water, so while Ocean Rift may not be for everyone, it will likely be a favorite for the explorers at this year’s Thanksgiving table.

Ocean Rift is great for your aunt who teaches swim class at the YMCA, and anyone that hasn’t developed the “seaweed touched my leg and I think it was a jelly fish” phobia that I have. With plenty of sea life to explore (and a very nasty surprise the deeper down you go), Ocean Rift could entertain a whole room of people just from reactions alone.

  • Cost: $9.99
  • Gamepad: Not required

Night Cafe: An Immersive Tribute to Van Gogh

Your cousin Julie who went to art school will thoroughly enjoy A Night Cafe: An Immersive Tribute to Van Gogh, and will probably be able to identify all of the scenery in the experience which was lifted directly from a number of Vincent Van Gogh’s works.

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It’s a quiet, contemplative experience that might be better after the turkey-induced coma sets in. Kids and easily distracted adults may be better off back in Ocean Rift.

  • Cost: Free
  • Gamepad: Not required

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Popularized by the video above, where Skype-connected players run through defuse a virtual bomb, the VR version of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes can take the place of Clue or Sorry! if your family is into games.

One person, preferably someone with a good ability to describe the enigmatic configuration of wires and puzzles, will wear the Gear VR while the rest of the family reads through a printed instruction manual, making it a true VR party game. Older family members may be asleep on the couch for this one.

  • Cost: $9.99
  • Gamepad: Not required

VR Karts: Sprint

Your little nephew Kevin is annoying the ever-living piss out of you, but there’s only one way to stop him from pestering you for a turn on the new VR goggles. Afterall, you are the coolest person on the face of the Earth to him, so its your duty to wow the next generation of VR users with something that they can digest.

VR Karts: Sprint puts Kevin in the driver’s seat in an online Mario Kart-style battle through a cartoony world that even the most cautious parent will deem ok for the little ones.

  • Cost: $4.99
  • Gamepad: Required

Oculus Social Alpha

Your cousins, brothers, sisters—anyone who is well-versed in using Skype—will be able to appreciate Oculus Social, the company’s own 5-person online theater that lets you share a single screen playing Vimeo and Twitch streams. In Social you transmit your voice as well as your head movements to make for the best VR social experience currently on mobile devices.

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Although there is a Facebook-style Code of Conduct in place, there’s no guarantee that sensitive ears are safe in the multi-user theater, so keep the little ones out of Social for now.

  • Cost: Free
  • Gamepad: Not Required

There you have it, you’ve successfully evangelized virtual reality to your family without traumatizing anyone (and hopefully) not making anyone barf in the process. No go forth and download everything free in sight from here until Christmas!

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