Food is often so much more than food – it is a means of connection. Meals shared with friends and family are a valuable part of life all over the world, although recent directives to practice social distancing have made upholding that a little difficult—but not impossible. Thanks to modern technology, you can entertain separately but together. We have pulled together the best tips and tricks to make the most of your night in – from selecting the best tech platforms and decorating your home, to planning a menu and selecting an activity. You are sure to have a heartwarming, fun, and delicious socially distant get-together in no time!Connect
Skype: The classic video-call platform, Skype can host up to 50 people and conversations can last up to 4 hours.
Zoom: As the new platform on the block, Zoom is being used widely in the corporate world. The basic plan is free but has a 40-minute limit on group calls. If you are having a 1 on 1 call, time is unlimited.
Facebook Messenger: Everyone you would like to dine with is likely to have access to Facebook Messenger and the platform is free while seeing up to 6 people in a video call.
Google Hangouts: Hangouts can be accessed from your phone or your computer and you can see 10 people at once.
Houseparty: This app allows you to start video chats with multiple people. Just let your friends know you are available, and you can join each other for your dinner party.
Laughter is the best medicine, so pick a theme and encourage your guests to dress up or decorate their space too. Try a Decade Party and ask your guest to each pick a time from the past to theme their meal around, decorate their dining area, and pull together a costume with what they have at home!
While it would be easiest to just sit on the couch, why not enjoy the spaces you normally don’t. Put your formal dining room to use or have a picnic on the floor next to your fireplace.
Relish in the details. Send out virtual invitations and plan an agenda so you make the most of your time together. Pick the perfect day and time to enjoy the sunset together with a happy hour or utilize your “party” to celebrate a life milestone.
Make the meal feel special and turn your home into your private restaurant. Pull out the china you never use, light that candle you have been saving, iron those cloth napkins and gather some blooms from your backyard. Little luxuries can enhance day to day life, so pop the cork on that bottle of wine you have been saving.
Think outside of the box. A throw or duvet cover can have the same feel as a tablecloth—and you can just throw it in the wash after dinner. If you don’t have a dining table (or it may be a bit full of toys, mail, computers, etc.), put some pretty trays on your coffee table and have a modern TV dinner.
Pick a recipe (maybe a family favorite) and try to make it together, possibly incorporating cook time into the chat to help out anyone who needs tips. Cooking together provides a great opportunity to share stories with one another.
If take-out is more your thing, pick a cuisine to fit your theme and encourage guests to order locally. If you live in the same neighborhood but social distancing is keeping you separated, you can even think about ordering from the same place so it’s really like you’re all sitting down at the same restaurant together.
Set up a standing dinner date with the important people in your life. This could be a virtual break room to have lunch with your co-workers, a Sunday night family dinner, or a Friday evening happy hour with friends.
Ask guests to create (or order) their favorite meal. Each person can share their recipes and the story behind their dishes or orders, and you may learn something about each other that wouldn’t have come up in your day to day conversation.
Have a virtual workshop that everyone can do in their own home. Learn to make a new cocktail, try an at home painting party, or plant your favorite herbs for a kitchen garden.
Set the mood with the perfect dinner party playlist. Thanks to screen/audio sharing in Zoom you can all put on the same playlist and enjoy a night out from the comfort of your couch. If that doesn’t work, synch a shared streaming playlist on your phones.
Although you have to forgo physical board games post dinner, you can play classics like Scrabble or Monopoly online with friends. The House party app also has a filter to play Heads Up together.
Simply enjoy a conversation just as you would in person. Try to not dwell on what is going on right now but reflect on the past or chat about things you are excited about for the future. This uninterrupted time together can help forge even deeper connections with your loved ones.