We’re all trying to find the best ways to feel socially connected in our current reality. We here at TFD love The Barefoot Contessa’s approachable advice for making any kind of social gathering feel special. But how can you apply good hosting basics to a virtual meetup? Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered!
Now that we’re all either social distancing, self-isolating, or on lockdown, video calls are the best way to keep in touch with friends and family. With apps like Zoom and Houseparty reporting a huge uptake in users, now is the time to organize your first virtual night in.
Having lived away from home for seven years, I’m no stranger to staying in and frankly, sometimes I prefer it. It’s inexpensive, nobody gets stuck in traffic, and you don’t have to queue to get to the bar. Here are my tips on how to make sure yours goes smoothly.
1. Block out time to socialize.
Avoid a non-committal “we should hang out” message – set a precise time and date for your call. The idea of having a strict schedule may seem pointless when you’re staying indoors, but it’s important to continue making social arrangements the way you normally would. Not only does this give your week some structure, but it also gives you something to actually look forward to.
A heads up: It’s wise to give your call an end time as well as a start time. Nobody needs to “go home” at any point throughout the night, so hanging up can be awkward.
2. Decide who’s coming.
Is it invite-only? Are your roommates allowed to drop in and say hi? Set the tone for the evening the same way you would any other night out.
The more the merrier? Create a shared link to your chat and tell your guests to bring their households. Just want to catch up with your closest friends? Find a time you can chat without being disturbed, and if you live with others, try to “book” some space in your home. Don’t forget your headphones!
Side note: remember that in a group chat you can’t talk to anyone one-to-one the same way you would at a bar. So if you want a catch up with your bestie, make sure it’s just the two of you.
3. Choose a shared activity.
This can range from the basic (drinking wine) to the creative (painting with Bob Ross?) to extreme (a live dance class). Either way, make sure you’re all participating in the same activity. Not only will this help you feel more connected, but it also gives you something to talk about other than coronavirus.
Stuck on ideas? Order the same takeout, cook the same recipe, have a bake-off, watch the same show on Netflix Party, or do an at-home beauty treatment.
Likewise – and this is important! – decide what you’re eating or drinking before the call. You probably wouldn’t order a round of shots if your friend was having a coffee, or order a three-course meal if your date was having a side dish.
4. Set the dress code.
As ridiculous as it may sound, you’ll want to set a dress code, too. If you miss dressing up (or just having a reason to brush your hair), dress up. Arrange a costume party for your group chat or just agree to wear pajamas with your friends. Just make sure everyone gets the memo before the call.
5. Follow some basic etiquette.
Before your call, sort out the basics: Check your lighting, eliminate background noise, and make sure your housemate isn’t going to be slowing down your Wi-Fi by playing Animal Crossing in the next room. Also, let your entire household know you’re on a call so you can either minimize interruptions or invite them to join in.
Finally, a lot of video call chats offer backgrounds and filters – don’t get carried away with them. Looking at your head superimposed on a plate is good entertainment for the first five or ten minutes, but after that, it’s a good idea to stick to having an actual chat up.
You can find Holly Anne Hobkirk on Twitter.
Image via IMDB.