Staying in is the new going out—at least for now—and we’ve got some fun ideas for making the most of your next virtual happy hour, hang, or dinner party while stuck at home in quarantine.

There’s good news and bad news. The bad news is Quarantine 2020 continues in full force. As the spread of the coronavirus continues to accelerate, we’ve all been encouraged by the medical intelligentsia to stay inside and social isolate whenever possible. So, please do that. The good news is modern technology has taken some of the sting out of being trapped at home, allowing for virtual parties and digital get-togethers that give us a little taste of the good old days.

in the 'tineWhat the Pros Are Cooking in Their #QuarantineKitchenVirtually hangouts, happy hours, and dinner parties have seen a major boom in the recent weeks and, I’ll be the first to admit, seeing the faces of my friends and families has helped pull me out of a funk or two. But if you’re going for the virtual hang, happy hour, or dinner party, you might as well make it fun. The name of the game is light, loose, and even silly—especially as we move into week three (?) of quarantine.

So think of us as your virtual hangout headquarters. Below you’ll find ideas for splashing your social hang with a little levity, as well as some perfect services for delivering food and booze to fuel your digital shindig.

Picking a Platform

Houseparty

For hangouts of three people or more all communicating with each other at once, Zoom and Houseparty seem to be the consensus picks. Zoom is especially good if someone in your group has a Zoom Pro account which gives you unlimited meeting time with up to 40 people. Inviting a Zoom Pro member to your digital hang is the coronavirus version of inviting a great cook to your beach house.

For a more detailed breakdown of all the available platforms, check out this post by our techy-y sister site, CNET.

Dinner 

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For a more formal dinner party, you’ll, of course, want to set a specific time, and then it’s all about the execution. Devise a nice table setting and light a candle. It’ll be fun to see what everyone’s interpretation of a formal dinner at home is. 

Agree on a Recipe & Make It Together

If only to bolster the feeling of camaraderie, consider all making the same recipe. But be conscious of the median level of cooking skill in your group before suggesting beef wellington or tarte flambée.

Or…

Agree on a General Dish or Cuisine & Bask in the Takes

Rebel against uniformity and just decide on a general dish like pizza or recipe categories like pasta or cuisine like Japanese. This open forum will elicit a myriad of interpretations to put on display—for better or worse. 

This setup works for cocktails too. While you can’t taste each other’s creations, you can marvel at, and even vote on, the best presentation. So break out the coupe glasses, chocolate sauce, and dried flowers and let the cocktail competition begin. (If you need inspiration, check out these cocktail ingredients you already have in your kitchen.)

Party Games 

Heads Up

Add a game into the mix, especially for happy hour or lazy Sunday hangouts. Traditional board games or card games can be a little clunky, but there are digital applications to help. 

Jackbox.TV is one that integrates party games with just about any teleconferencing platform for group-friendly games like trivia, drawing competitions, and even a standup joke-writing contest. Just one person has to sign up and purchase a game pack and then it can be accessed by up to 10 people from a simple browser. Choose carefully as not all games are family-friendly.

Related Reading: What Are the Best Food Podcasts Right Now?

Other games like Heads Up (on your mobile device) or classic charades translate well to a digital hang, although be prepared for lots of muffled screaming. Scattergories is a good one to play virtually with a group too. All you need is one friend with the actual game to text each list as a reference to the group before every round starts.

Or just kick back with the posse and watch some tube together. Netflix Party, a new integration from the streaming service, allows everyone to synch up the movie or show and provides a group chat so you can discuss how f*#@ing crazy “Tiger King” is in real-time.

Definitely Wear Wigs

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This may speak to my immediate circle of friends more than anything, but it’s been scientifically proven that wearing a wig is more fun than not wearing one. Since, more likely than not, you’ll only be featured from the chest up, a wig will also help capture your essence when stilettos are taken out of the equation. Again, we don’t want anyone making unnecessary trips outside, especially for wigs, so consider ordering a sassy number online from here or here

Related Reading: 5 Great Snack Boxes Full of Treats From Around The World

Join a Virtual Wine Tasting

If you’ve officially run out of things to talk about, you can all sign up for a virtual wine tasting and go at it together. Restaurants and wineries like Justin Vineyards (this coming Friday) have been hosting wine portfolio tasting led by cellar masters and sommeliers. Just make sure you order your bottles in time, either online (see below) or at your local shop. Check in with your favorite wineries or local dining/food media for upcoming programming.

Food & Booze Delivery Services

Because we’re all doing our best to keep inside and avoid markets and other crowded places, consider using one of these great delivery services to stock your home for the next digital happy hour or dinner party.  

Beer, Wine & Liquor: We also rounded up some of the best places to buy booze online while you’re in quarantine (because, duh). Or what better time than now to join a wine club and have monthly shipments of vino delivered to your doorsteps.

Winc wine club subscription gift card

Winc

Online Butchers: This might be a good time to check out an online butcher shop. Several companies like Porter Road and Rastelli’s will deliver top-grade beef, pork, chicken, and fish to your home. See our roundup of the best meat delivery services available in 2020. 

Seafood: For seafood-lovers, you’ll probably want to check out the best places to order seafood online for all your salmon, tuna, shellfish, and more.

Meal Kits and Meal Delivery: If you feel like cooking but don’t feel like going to the store to round up ingredients, consider one of these best meal kits in 2020 to simplify the process. If even that feels like too much to handle, there are oven-ready meal kits and meal delivery services available too.  

Header image courtesy Getty Images

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