Being stuck at home during the coronavirus crisis doesn’t mean you have to be lonely or completely give up your regular meetups for drinks and dinner. Instead, just do them virtually rather than in person. Here are some ways to host a virtual dinner party.
Set a Date and Time
Structure your virtual dinner party like an in-person party, with time for drinks, games, and conversation. Choose a date and time when your friends can be available on their laptops, tablets, or phones for some socially distant socializing. Prepare an online invitation that includes everything you’d put in a physical one—only this time, you’ll include the platform you’ll be using (Zoom, Facetime, Skype, Houseparty, etc.). Be sure to check ahead of time for time limits and the maximum number of people you can host on the platform. For added fun, choose a fun theme and dress code—just make sure to clearly communicate the dress code to your guests.
Keep it Small
A screen full of people can be unwieldy. Having too many people in the virtual room makes it difficult to carry on conversations—people may talk over each other and you’ll spend most of the gathering moderating who speaks next. Keep the gathering small—4 to 8 people max—and you’ll have a better time with more fun and conversation.
Share a Menu
Decide on a menu that everyone can make at home, so everyone is eating the same thing made from the same recipes. Keep it simple to minimize the need for anyone to risk their healthy to run out to the grocery for exotic ingredients. Everyone can share photos or videos of how their version of the menu turned out.
Choose Cocktails and Games
If one of your friends is a master mixologist, have them share their favorite cocktail recipe. Choose a game or two that everyone can share online—apps exist that allow you to prepare quizzes or share trivia games.
Think About Background and Lighting
You’re the host, so set an example of how good things can look on camera. Test your webcam’s angle and try different types of lighting. Improvise a background or use one of the pre-set backgrounds the meeting apps provide. As the host, your table sets the tone. Try to set your table and locate your webcam so that your virtual guests can see how your table setting, flowers, and linens match the theme you selected.
There are many different ways to host a virtual dinner party. The point is to stay connected to friends while keeping everyone as safe and health as possible. The day will come when we can gather in person again, but until then, an online gathering can be a fun and creative way to keep everyone’s spirits up.