If you’re like most people, social distancing is keeping you from seeing family and friends right now. And that can be hard! After all, humans are social creatures, and this much alone time is pretty unnatural. In fact, studies suggest that prolonged isolation is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes each day.
Fortunately, the internet has made it possible for us to keep in touch through social media, teleconferencing apps, and more. Best of all, you can do much more than just chat with these tools. With a little creativity, a virtual party might be almost as fun as the real thing.
Try these ideas to stay connected and have some fun while you keep a safe, healthy distance.
1. Online Live Concerts and Read-Alouds
If you're a fan of social media, you’ve certainly noticed when friends "go live" by recording a video of themselves in real time. Plenty of famous musicians have been offering free concerts, for example singer-songwriter Gary Barlow, who has recorded duets with plenty of famous names including Ronan Keating and Beverley Knight as part of his #TheCroonerSessions for anyone to watch - for free.
But why not get your own family in on the fun? This is a great way for large groups to stay connected. Kids can perform skits for friends or mini-concerts for grandparents, while adults can do bedtime stories across the miles for the younger generation.
Pro Tip: Performances and readings are a great way to sneak some instrument practice or language skills into a reluctant kid’s routine.
John Legend performing alongside his family at home as part of the
#StayAtHome concert series on YouTube
A family's adaption of a song from the play Les Miserables went viral
2. Conference Call Play Readings
For a more grown-up story time, consider gathering a group of friends to do a table read of a play. No one needs any serious acting chops to make this fun, and you can keep stage fright at bay by using an audio-only conference call app. Just choose a play — preferably a comedy! — that everyone can access online, assign roles, and have everyone call in to read. You can also have listeners dial in, too — just make sure they mute their mics.
Pro Tip: Check out this database of online scripts to get started, or choose something in the public domain.
3. Zoom Board Games
If you’re in the mood for a good old-fashioned game night, try hosting one over Zoom, or your own favorite video conferencing app. This will work best if everyone has their own copy of the board game to set up in their own house — that way each household can use game tokens to keep track of everyone’s progress where they can easily see it. If you don’t all have the game on hand, try logging into the meeting with an extra camera that’s trained on a single game board that the host maintains to mark everyone’s progress.
Pro Tip: Play around with the viewing settings on your video call - "Gallery View" works well on Zoom for example, so you can see everyone’s face at the same time.
A granddad and his grandson play chess over FaceTime during isolation!
4. Instagram Scavenger Hunts
You may not be allowed to roam around town, but you can still go on a treasure hunt. Create a list of items and share it with all participants, then have them post a photo of each item they find on Instagram with a hashtag dedicated to your game. This is a great idea for very large groups of acquaintances from all walks of life.
Pro Tip: Get creative with your list! Instead of just a bunch of items, try adding facial expressions to capture, video clips expressing a certain emotion, or acts of kindness for a more satisfying challenge.
5. Video Selfie Progressive Stories
Progressive stories have always been popular with kids, but you’ll find them entertaining, too. To start, the first storyteller provides the first three sentences of an original story, delivered in a quick video selfie. Be sure to end the snippet with the words "and THEN..." to prompt the next segment. Each person takes a turn adding short video to tell the story, which is guaranteed to take some unexpected turns!
Pro Tip: This works on just about any social media platform that allows you to post video responses, but a private Facebook group will give you more control.
6. Virtual Costume Party
The longer you sit at home, the more bored you’re going to get, so eventually it will pay to get really creative. Why not invite family and friends to a virtual costume party? You’ll get hours of creative time before the event to come up with the perfect costume idea to impress your "guests,". You'll be able to enjoy each others' handiwork — and company — as you enjoy a virtual cocktail party, or even a sit-down dinner together, over Skype or another app. Who will win the award for the most imaginatively dressed guest?
Pro Tip: If full costumes feel too complicated, try just hosting a formal, dress-up dinner that allows you get out of sweats and into something glamorous for a few hours. Alternatively, you can even try dressing up to do daily household chores! Whatever works for you.
A dad hosts a dinner party for his children, dressing up in his tuxedo!
7. Dancing Through the Decades
Everyone needs exercise right now, but you don’t have to limit yourself to a walk around the block to get it. Another great use of your favorite video conferencing app?
Host a dance party! Build a playlist of tunes that span the decades and get all your friends up and moving (Spotify, for instance, allows you to create playlists and find music based on the genres you like, and offers a 1 month free trial).
It's a great way for the different generations in your family to gather and share their favorite songs and decade-specific dance moves. A quick jitterbug tutorial from Grandma or TikTok moves from the kids will be fun for everyone, and no doubt will bring back nostalgia!
Pro Tip: For better sound quality, the host should play the songs through their laptop and share the audio with everyone else.
If you have any musicians in the family - why not play live music for everyone on the call to dance along to?
8. Family Pub Quiz
How well do you really know your family? You can find out by putting a new spin on the classic trivia night at your local watering hole. Each participant should write a list of questions about themselves for family to answer in separate rounds of play. Go ahead and award points to pick a winner, but the real fun lies in telling the stories behind the questions. You’re sure to learn a lot you didn’t know about your family — and feel a whole lot more connected in the process.
Pro Tip: If you’re feeling inspired or amazed by the things you learn about your family during the pub quiz, be sure to write them down so you don’t lose these incredible bits of family history.
If you feel you or someone in your family has a story to tell, and share with others, why not get started on a book with StoryTerrace?
We offer a range of video and phone interview options, so that you can chat about your life story with our writers from the comfort of your own home. It will also give you a creative project to talk about with your family, as you uncover memories from the past.