Zoom has quickly become a household word, enabling friends and family to gather together even when they can’t be physically close.
If you’re choosing to spend more time at home, and are looking for a fun twist on a basic video call, read on for five unique get-togethers you can host virtually.
Hosting a Virtual Book Club
Spending plenty of time at home is not a problem for bibliophiles. However, if you are missing the opportunity to discuss your favorite novel or latest read with a group, why not try a virtual book club?
This type of gathering is fairly straightforward. You can either opt to have everyone choose a single book to read and discuss together, or you can spend the time sharing what everyone is currently reading.
Just like with a regular book club, you’ll want to keep things moving while allowing time for socialization. Give everyone a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting to catch up with one another. As you move into your books, consider some of the following questions to spark a discussion:
- What do you like so far about your current book?
- What did you dislike?
- Who was your favorite character? Why?
- Was there anything you would have changed about the story?
Of course, these are just top-level questions to get you started. Individual books lend themselves to deeper discussions around topics, themes, and characters - so don’t be afraid to dive in. You can find a selection of discussion guides for many books at ReadingGroupGuides.
Finally, don’t forget to choose a fun virtual background to set the mood for your call. Consider having each person choose a background that matches the theme of their book; or look for images of bookstores, cafes, or cozy reading spots.
Hosting a Virtual Weekend Brunch
If you’ve missed going to brunch with friends, try hosting a virtual event instead. Enjoy your favorite dishes right in your home - and skip the long wait times.
This one does require some prep, so plan accordingly. Choose a guest list and assign each person a specific dish to make (find some ideas from Bon Appetit here). Alternatively, have each person prepare their favorite dish and talk about it during the meeting.
Get ready for the call as you would for a normal brunch out - or relax in your favorite loungewear. Consider positioning your phone or computer in your kitchen, on a balcony or patio, or using a virtual background of your favorite brunch spot.
Use the virtual brunch as a time to catch up with friends and family. Come up with some fun conversation starters to keep the mood light, such as:
- Have you done anything fun indoors recently?
- Can you tell me about the dish you prepared?
- Let’s say you can plan a vacation for one year from now - where would it be?
Don’t forget to snap a quick photo of your screen so you have a reminder of your brunch event in the weeks and months to come.
Hosting a Virtual Wine or Beverage Tasting
Whether your knowledge of wine is near sommelier-level or you just enjoy visiting wineries, a virtual tasting event is a must-try. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, you can still enjoy this event by substituting your favorite mocktails.
here are a number of ways to try this event, ranging from inexpensive to pricier.
- Simplest: Have everyone choose their favorite wine for the Zoom call. Take turns allowing each person to share their wine, what they like about it, where it came from, and any other details. Don’t forget to have some cheese and fruit on hand to enjoy with your drinks.
- More complex: This party game comes from Decanter. Before the meeting, choose a few bottles of wine that everyone will have on hand. During the meeting, have everyone pour themselves a glass of each – they can mark the bottom of their glasses if they want to match them to the bottles later. Mix up the glasses, then pick one person to start the game off. Have them describe the wine they are tasting. The other guests should taste the wines they have in their own glasses and see if they can identify the wine that the taster is describing. Take turns leading the group until you have run through your flight of wines for the event.
- Most complex: This is the priciest option but can be the most authentic if your group is full of wine connoisseurs. Some companies will ship you bottles of wine directly from a vineyard, then host a tasting event for you virtually with an expert, either privately or at a set time with other groups.
Whichever option you choose, you’ll enjoy spending time with friends and family in a relaxed, fun setting.
Hosting a Virtual Supper Club
This idea is similar to the brunch event above, but a few twists can make it into a memorable occasion even without a trip to a restaurant.
There are two options here:
- Have each person prepare their favorite recipe for dinner.
- Order from your favorite restaurants – for an added element of fun make it a themed dinner (all Italian or Indian), or challenge everyone to try something new.
Once the menu is set, create restaurant-like vibes with a background featuring your favorite dining spot. And choose a music playlist with your favorite tunes and the classics you love to listen to while dining.
Encourage guests to eat together once the call begins, and have everyone share their dish and where it came from. This is also a great opportunity to swap recipes (or restaurant numbers for takeout).
Hosting a Virtual Craft Circle
Scrapbooking, knitting, drawing - they’re all crafts that are fun to do whether you are alone or in a group. Invite your friends to an old-fashioned craft circle hosted virtually.
You might all simply use the time to work on your projects and chat as you go. Or you can all agree to work on the same type of project (like knitting).
Another option is for everyone to attend a class together. One option: Brooklyn Public Library is hosting a weekly virtual crafting circle from its Facebook page. Again, the possibilities are endless for this type of gathering.
Crafting with friends is not only a fun way to work on a project; it can offer mental health benefits and boost your happiness. So get stitching!
Next Read: Staying Culturally Connected - Virtually
You may also enjoy our blog post on staying culturally connected in a time of social distancing. Read it here for more ideas on ways you can explore art, history, and nature right from your home.