Written by Kelly Reynolds
After seven weeks of quarantine, seven weeks of spending day in and day out in the same apartment with the same roommate and the same (adorable) dog, I’ve come to several realizations. To start with, we’re living in a time that is anything but normal. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m already picturing what future historians will say about the last few weeks (and the months of recuperation soon to follow) when they tell our story. Secondly, because of these less-than-normal times, I’ve found myself, more than ever, craving some sort of order, some way for my extroverted, uber-organized, Type A self to feel a sense of peace and purpose in the universe. I’m sure that we’re all looking for some sense of that even without a pandemic, but that desire has definitely been amplified. Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, I’ve never felt more connected to my friends.
Social distancing does not have to mean complete social isolation. Rather than focusing on the doom and gloom of our current situation, I urge you all to treat this separation as an opportunity for a “friend renaissance” of sorts, or as the beloved Phoebe Buffay would say, a Frienaissance. Regardless of where you’re located, whether you're working remotely from home or you’re struggling to stay afloat on unemployment, there are plenty of fun (not to mention, free) ways to stay connected with the ones you love, even if you can’t meet up for your usual Sunday Funday brunch.
I've rounded up a few ideas to help you craft a fun, creative virtual hangout– check out my picks to see which one will work best for you!
Let There Be Food
I know I’m not the only one that’s been doing some extra cooking lately. In fact, I’ve been drooling over the baked goods crowding my Insta feed in recent weeks. By inviting your closest pals for a virtual dinner party, you’re not only giving everyone a reason to get together, you’re also offering them the excuse they need to dress up for probably the first time in two months. Or, if you don’t want to get dolled up, choose another theme. Remember that you can never go wrong with your favorite pajamas!
When it comes to the food, you’ve also got options…
- Select a new recipe to try and cook in tandem using your favorite video streaming app.
- Have everyone cook up their own dish and share the recipe amongst the group.
- Encourage everyone to order the same dish from their local pizzeria, because let’s not forget, it’s important to support small businesses.
- Play your own version of Nailed It and have everyone try to replicate an Insta-worthy dessert.
The list goes on and on! It all comes down to what you and your friends will enjoy the most.
Sip Sip Hooray
You’re going to need something to wash down all the pizza and brownies, right? Are you a wine drinker? Host a virtual wine tasting. Do you prefer something sweeter? Challenge your friends to a craziest milkshake competition. The choices are endless, but once again, use this time as an opportunity to try new things and surround yourself with people you want to take those adventures with. These are the memories you want to look back on – milkshakes over masks.
Are You Not Entertained?
I’ve been known to spend hours on Skype with friends, just catching up about our latest adventures. However, much like the early stages of a romantic relationship (because let’s face it, these make for excellent date ideas, too) it’s also important to bond over shared experiences.
Turn your quarantine into some quality quarantime (Yikes, sorry) by trying out a new activity or event with the squad. Here are a few to get you started…
- With Netflix Party, enjoying a movie for Girls’ Night has never been easier. All you need is a Netflix subscription, a computer with the Google Chrome browser, and the Netflix Party extension. Pick a time, pick the flick (or binge-worthy TV show), and you’re good to go.
- I don’t know who came up with the idea for the Houseparty app, but they deserve a freaking award. Not only can you video chat with up to eight people at once, but you can also play games with each other like Ellen’s Heads Up.
- If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent countless evenings painting your next great masterpiece whilst sipping vino. Pinot’s Palette, Paint Nite, and other art class faves are now offering virtual options, many of which include a package of supplies delivered to your door, for you and your friends. In addition, let’s not forget that you can ALWAYS channel your inner Bob Ross by streaming one of his many painting tutorials.
- Ever wanted to visit Paris at the drop of a hat? Now you can, thanks to some tech-savvy curators and our friends at TimeOut who compiled a master list of museums and galleries from around the world that are currently offering virtual tours. Explore installation art within NYC’s Guggenheim first thing in the morning before transitioning to the relics of relationships-past at the Museum of Broken Relationships in the afternoon. Travel the world alongside your friends (via Zoom or FaceTime), all without leaving the comfort of your couch.
What better time to start planning for that cross-country road trip you’ve been planning with your BFF? I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been talking about backpacking Eastern Europe for several years, but has never actually made the plans to do it. I realize it’s tough to lock down the specifics right now, but start thinking ahead! It makes the future look a lot brighter when you’ve got something to look forward to… and someone to look forward to sharing it with.
My heart goes out to everyone during this difficult time, especially my fellow extroverts and fire signs. However, know that even if you feel alone, even if physically, you are alone… you are not alone. You have people in this world who love you and they’re probably feeling just as isolated as you are right now, whether they admit it or not.
Let’s be alone, together.