Fight boredom while COVID-19 social distancing using these free tools.
As we all count our days in self-isolation and help stop the spread of COVID-19, we all continue to learn about how to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues using online portals and apps. Whether you’re a gamer, just missing movie nights with your favourite people, or an avid wine enthusiast, we have you covered. Here I’ll show you how to host your own virtual get togethers in a number of different ways during these times of social distancing.
As a wine enthusiast and a member of a pretty big family with members across the world, I’m staying connected as much as possible to help ease anxiety and talk about life while sharing a glass of wine with the people I love. Recently I was able to connect with renowned Los Angeles-based budget travel and lifestyle expert, Lindsay Myers, who’s regularly featured on Access Hollywood. We had a great discussion on why it’s so important to use the internet and the useful apps and tools available to us during this time to stay connected.
“It’s very important for us all to stay connected right now.
We need each other more than ever. Even though we can not physically be around each other, doesn’t mean we can’t connect—and thankfully technology makes it easier for us,” said Myers.
We both agreed that tapping into virtual social activities is the best way to connect, communicate and celebrate with each other—not to mention bring some laughter to our current state. By now I think we are all leveraging video tools as much as possible. Particularly in our WFH environments, and there are many newly discovered tools to help bring social virtual activities to life too!
“From Facebook Workplace, [and] Zoom, to Instagram live, Google Hangouts, and Skype, there are many apps and websites that allow us all to group chat and keep the ‘happy hour’ going.” said Myers, and I totally agree. Bringing back happy hour is a great way to stock your wine cellar, taste wine with friends and celebrate the end of the work day.
Here is a list of activities and ideas to help bring your virtual social activities with your friends and family to life.
11 Top Virtual Social Gathering Ideas:
1. Virtual Wine Tastings (or Wine Night In)
Go on a wine adventure! Plan a night where you and all of your friends buy wines from the same region and compare notes and travel stories. Invite a sommelier you know – who might be out of job right now and ask them to lead you through the tasting notes. This is a great way to host a happy hour and reminisce about your travels abroad and learn about wine as well!
If you’re looking for an upcoming virtual wine tasting event, WineOnline, Canada’s premier online wine store, has got you covered! With a portfolio of over 300 wines from around the world, the store launching a series of free, online wine tasting events with head sommelier Samuel Fritz-Tate. The first wine tasting will be on June 6 at 3 p.m. and will highlight Niagara winery, Leaning Post. In advance of the wine tasting event, WineOnline is also offering a mixed case of twelve bottles of Leaning Post wines (not available at the LCBO). The mixed case costs $306 and includes free, contactless delivery within 1-2 weeks, anywhere in Ontario.
2. Cocktail Party
Bring on the Aperitivo hour! Create a cocktail theme, then see how many different versions you all have as a group. You might even want to invite a friend who is a bartender to help lead you through a DIY cocktail class
3. Dinner Party
Whether you’re all eating the same type of cuisine, supporting your local restaurant through delivery or just eating and hanging out, it’s all about the company. You can even get creative and find a friend who is a chef and ask them to host a cooking class online for you and your friends.
4. Dance Party
Looking for your Saturday night fix? Create a playlist on Spotify that can be shared as your dance list for the evening and listen as a group as you all dance your heart away. This is a great exercise, not to mention a great way to get that stress out of your body. You can also integrate a cocktail party and a wine tasting into this type of party! If you use zoom premium, you can have a dance party with up to 10,000 views. Pretty sure you might have a DJ friend who could make this one happen—or tune into one of the celebrity DJs doing a LIVE stream on Instagram.
5. Movie Night
The new version of Netflix and Chill. Have you heard about the new Netflix Party? Available only as a Chrome extension, Netflix Party allows you and your friends to watch any show or movie from the Netflix catalogue together. Not only can you all watch the same movie synchronized, but there is also video playback pauses, plays and stops for everyone (ideal to fill up your glass of wine, and make some popcorn), plus there is a group chat feature for those inter-movie questions, comments and chatter.
6. Book Clubs
The club doesn’t have to end just because of the situation. Pick – up a book and have weekly virtual meetings for discussion and debate. My newest and most recent book is ‘Wine Girl’ by Victoria James, you can even listen to the audiobook for free when you register for Amazon Audible.
7. Get Crafty
Want to learn a new craft or share yours with the world? Meet-up with your crafty friends and share ideas around how to get craft around the house and then video chat about the finished project, or do them while you are chatting (knitting, painting, jewelry etc.). Once again, got a crafty friend? Get them to teach you something new in a class or tutorial.
8. Costume / Theme Party
Name that theme and everyone dress up! You can integrate this party with any of the above, heck, you could throw a Spanish wine themed pyjama party if you wanted too.
9. Birthday / Anniversary Party
So many people are missing their birthdays with those they love right now. Just because you can’t see each other doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate. Have a cake delivered to that person’s door (ecakes.ca is still delivering in Toronto during COVID-19), and all of you can sing through video making them feel loved and appreciated!
10. Games Nights
Looking to plan a night challenging your friends to the games you love? Download the Houseparty app (offered on iOS, Android, Mac OS, and Chrome). It offers free trivia games and video calling for some of your favourite classic games.
11. Instagram Feed Party
Looking to scroll through instagram with a friend? Instagram just launched a new live chat tool that allows you to view Instagram your feed together.