5 Steps to Host a Virtual Dinner Party

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It’s a crazy stressful time for everyone. And the best things for us, like exercising outdoors and social activities, are either highly discouraged or banned entirely. We feel alone, but we’re alone together.

The data proves it. A new study found a 20 percent jump in swiping activity on dating apps in New York and California — two of the hardest-hit states in the country.

Dinner

People are “meeting for coffee” or “going to happy hour” through video chat as a way to work through the isolation of self-quarantine or just working from home. Whether you’re living by yourself and feeling lonely, or if you’re home with your spouse and kids and feeling smothered and suffocated, we need to be there for each other right now. And where circumstances are becoming prohibitive, people are getting creative.

Social media, social distancing and virtual dinner parties

Social media and video chat will be what get us through this coronavirus scare. We’re already seeing it play out live. We’re finding ways to isolate ourselves without feeling isolated.

We’re watching movies with friends on Netflix Party. Live group chats in Google Docs. Slow courtship dating on Hinge. Did you know Bumble has a video chat feature built into the app? The dating app reported a spike in video and voice chat in the last month.

Since we’re all doing what we can to flatten the curve, let’s lean into it and be there for each other from the comfort of our couches for a virtual dinner party.

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1. Set your virtual dinner party guest list

Just like you would for any physical dinner gathering, you probably have a few people in mind for this one. Is it a weekly dinner group that you already had plans with before we began social distancing? Or how about a group of sorority sisters that you’ve had a group text with for years but only really see each other at weddings every once in a while? It might even just be a great excuse for the kids to see their grandparents.

Regardless of the occasion, make sure you’re inviting the people that you miss and want to see or reconnect with during this time.

2. Pick the right time and place

The same way you would if you were throwing an actual dinner party, ask your “guests” to check their schedules. Yes, we’re all working from home, but we’re all finding new routines and finding different ways to pass the time.

Plus, that grout in the bathroom isn’t going to clean itself! Your friends with kids will need more time to coordinate. They have a lot on their plates right now.

3. Select a video chat platform

Next, instead of picking the restaurant, you need to pick a video chat platform. Some of you use Apple products, and some of you are on Android. One friend’s not on Facebook anymore. Two people use WhatsApp, and half of you are on Hangouts but don’t even know it.

So, which platform do you use? Honestly, it’s not that important a decision. At this point, they’re all pretty good and whatever you choose will serve your purpose. Some of you may have to download another app to keep the party going.

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4. There’s an app for that

Another thing to note is your own internet and processing speeds. If you have a good phone, but a mid-range budget notebook computer, consider downloading the app on your phone. That should help provide a more stable stream. You won’t be able to see them that great, but it’ll provide a stable connection and shouldn’t freeze as much.

5. What’s the theme of your virtual dinner party?

We need something to break the monotony. Make it a theme party. Make your signature dish and share your #Instaworthy food photos while you eat with your friends. Maybe keep the casual vibe going, and everyone makes their favorite comfort food. What’s more comforting than sharing fried chicken or mac and cheese or chicken pot pie with your friends?

Want to turn it up a notch for you and your foodie friends? Combine your virtual dinner party with game night to see who can make the best “Quarantine Struggle” Meal with only ingredients from the cupboards. One person can host and interview the competitors. This is especially fun when you haven’t had a chance to go to the supermarket in a week.

It’s the social event of the season

The last couple of years have shown us just how toxic social media can be. But now we have an opportunity to use it for its intended purpose — to come together as a community regardless of physical distances or fear.