Many of us have had to postpone or cancel weddings, birthday parties, everyday dinners and impromptu get-togethers with loved ones in this new normal that isn’t normal at all. Yet, we still need social interaction. It not only serves as an opportunity to find a community who understands what we’re feeling, but it’s also a much-needed distraction. Being social supports our mental health and may even decrease our risk of premature death.
Safely, keep your social life — and your health — thriving with these 10 creative ways to keep in touch with loved ones and make new connections right now.
Food banks need help right now. Some want volunteers to pack meals (while staying at least six feet apart from other volunteers) and others need people to make no-contact meal deliveries. Remember to only do this if you are healthy and have not been in contact with anyone showing COVID-19 symptoms, and wash or sanitize your hands regularly.
DO VIRTUAL COFFEE
There’s no reason to cancel the coffee meetings with clients and lunches with friends. Take them online. “Today I had a FaceTime lunch with friends, and tomorrow I’m having coffee,” says Amy Gorin, MS, a registered dietitian nutritionist in the New York City area.
“I lead the wellness team at my company, and we started doing Zoom workouts together, starting with the free workouts from [dance cardio studio] 305 fitness,” says Christa Lombardi. “It’s a great way to connect and socialize especially since some of us don’t drink.” Lots of fitness studios are offering free classes online or on Instagram TV right now, so you could even work out with a different person every day of the week, if you wish. You may find a new style of exercise you love.
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Some bars are live-streaming their trivia nights on Facebook. If you can’t join one of those, then find a free pub quiz online, create your own list of trivia questions or take questions from something like Trivial Pursuit and invite a group of friends to play. Rotate the host each week, and remember to have a prize for the winning team.
“GO TO THE MOVIES”
Netflix Party allows you to watch a film with friends. Even better, the group chat feature means you can play movie critic without anyone shushing you. Try these tasty ways to top your air-popped popcorn so you get the full movie theater experience.
TAKE HAPPY HOUR UP A NOTCH
Hire a professional mixologist to join your virtual happy hour with coworkers or friends and demonstrate how to make a specific cocktail. Let everyone know ahead of time what ingredients they’ll need so they can mix at home, and include time for a Q&A with the mixologist. Or, do cocktail takeout — as various restaurants and bars have been allowed to deliver.
HOST GAME NIGHT
Streaming games like those from Jackbox Games, Pogo and some game systems are perfect for challenging friends remotely and they’re not that expensive (about $13–$21 for a pack of Jackbox Games; Pogo is free with registration). You can also play the classic UNO virtually or, if everyone has a webcam, how about Charades?
MOVE YOUR BOOK CLUB
It’s easy to continue a book club via a group video call. Or take this as an opportunity to read more and either join an online club or start your own. Choose a title, determine how many chapters you’ll read each week and create a list of topics to discuss each meeting, such as specific characters, the title and key moments.
Put together a dinner club: One person picks and shares the recipe(s) for the night. Everyone cooks, and then you get together on Zoom or Houseparty to dig in, talk about ways you personalized the dishes or used what you had on hand and catch up. You could also cook together or have someone teach how to cook a dish or do a certain technique such as their secret to mincing garlic or how to caramelize onions.
GO ON A BLIND DATE
Have a friend set you up for a 15-minute chat with someone they think you will like. On top of meeting someone new, if you have been living out of workout clothes, it can be a welcome change to put on something nice and even do your hair and makeup. “I’ve started remotely meeting people, and without the social setting and alcohol, the experience is both strange when we have nothing to say and a lot of fun,” says Code Laure.