Before you decide what is the best way to enjoy dinner with friends and family, you must decide the online communication format that works best for you to call everyone to dinner. Whether it be Skype, Zoom, Google Hang-outs, Facebook Messenger Rooms, or any other favorite app that you might want to use, make sure that everyone is on the ‘same page’, or in this case, the same App.

Once that is established, it is time to decide how the dinner will go, keeping in mind physical distancing for social events like this and ensuring the use of proper protocols to keep everyone safe. Some of these involve travel out of home and the same physical distancing measures apply if you are delivering on your promise of dinner.

Here are some ideas.

1 – Everyone Exercises their Culinary Chops!

Decide the guest list in advance and what the meal should be. Circulate the recipes to your guests along with suggested wine pairing and whatever other things that you might like to include. Invite your guests with plenty of time to allow them to pick up the necessary ingredients during their regular weekly shopping outings. The day before your dinner, send out a reminder and suggested time for your guests to start cooking your chosen recipes in their own home so everyone will be ready to sit down for dinner at the same time. Connect with your guests and let the meal begin. This might be something new for everyone so it is up to you to break the ice, start up the small talk and get the party started!!

 

2 – The Host with the Most (cooks!)

This idea is more in keeping with traditional dinner parties in which the host not only is the most, they DO the most!! First decide on a date, a meal, and the guests to invite. A good idea is to choose guests close by. Think in the immediate neighbourhood. As the host, you have the fun job of doing all the cooking. It could be just the main, or the whole enchilada – so to speak!! This is your dinner party and you get to choose! Start to cook, keeping in mind proper food handling protocol as outlined by the CDC and when your meal is done, package it up and deliver to your guests. A good idea is to deliver it in containers suitable for heating up which will help contain any contamination or use containers that are easily allows your guests to transfer the food for warming in their own warming dishes without container to container contact. Gather friends together early for pre-dinner cocktails and let them know of any last-minute instructions on rewarming so that everyone will be READY and SET to GO to dinner together, apart.

 

3 – Everyone Sends their Best

This is not for someone new to hosting a physically distanced dinner. It is the COVID-19 version of a progressive dinner in which everyone whips up their specialty and delivers it around to all those invited to dinner. For example, one takes care of the cocktails before dinner with a favourite wine selection, another does the hot appetizers, someone volunteers to create the meal with another taking care of dessert. Now, with things loosening up somewhat and travel not quite as restricted, this type of dinner can be possible, and it is a lot of fun with everyone participating. Keep in mind containment in prep and cooking and it is good idea to keep the travel local… very local.

 

4 – Dinner Where Everyone is a Winner

This is HomeWurx absolutely favorite idea and it is so simple. What restaurants are open in your neighbourhood? Check them all out, pick whichever one tickles your fancy and grab an online copy of the menu. Invite some local guests and send the menu along with the invite. It need not be too crazy. Even a simple pizza party will be fun! Everyone is to choose their appy, main, sides and dessert and send it back to you. You set the time, arrange the order and provide packing or delivery instructions for each person’s meal with the restaurant. This is an event where your friends get a great meal delivered, each others’ company to be shared online and some tangible support for your local restaurant. It is an event where everyone wins even the ‘paying’ host, as long as it is stipulated that everyone takes turns. Because it’s only fair that what goes around comes around.

 

You will likely never get down time like this again and for many it is the perfect opportunity to catch up on all those things that you really wanted to do, but just never found the time to even start.

The Home Front

Minor home clean ups / fix ups are a great way to spend your time productively.  We are not suggesting that you repaint the entire house… but you might want to.  And guaranteed you are not facing a major time crunch to get it done before a big family get together. You can take your time and work at your own pace.

After all it is spring and now is the perfect time for some serious spring clean ups / purges. It is also the prefect time to organize your home so that everything is in logical places where you can find things more easily and return them to their ‘place’ to ensure you will easily find them again …and again.

If you are thinking of basic fix ups / spruce ups, consider going through the house one room at a time. Make a list of what you want to accomplish and stick with that room till the jobs are complete. That way the task of doing the entire house will not be too daunting.  Many home renovation stores are delivering so you can stay at arms length from others outside the home while you get your work done.

Pictures

A great way to spend some time is organizing photo albums, backing up / purging digital files of pictures and maybe even going all out and transferring all those old VHS, hi 8 and DV Cam videos into a digital format.

Photo Albums are a great source of enjoyment simply to spend time with and ‘remember when’. It might also be a good time to purge a lot of the pictures that for the life of you, you cannot remember why you took that particular shot.  Many people generally keep photos with pictures of people and very special places and jettison the rest.

When it comes to digital, a review of your files will likely end in your being very surprised in the volume you have accumulated. Purging is a great extension of viewing your files and there are many commercial back up programs available on the market to make sure you don’t lose your treasured memories. Or you can simply back up your photos on regular media like hard drives.

Videos

During ‘normal life’ the thought of transferring video tapes onto a digital format is quite daunting. However in this ‘new normal’ time, a walk down memory lane with old videos will provide you with the opportunity to remember those moments captured on video tape and preserve those memories onto a digital format which will stand the test of time much longer than tape. There are many commercial transfer cables/programs available that are inexpensive and easy to use.  All you will need is a video player, your computer and a hard drive to load the digitized videos on.

Learn something new

You are going to find that with time on your hands this might be the perfect time to learn something new.  Instead of listing web sites, we will simply provide you with some ideas about what you might want to consider and let your imagination take flight.

Build your own web site, learn a new language, learn magic tricks, learn to paint, photography, photoshop, writing, computer programs (e.g. excel), social marketing, graphic design, public speaking…you get the idea.

Spend some time thinking what you really want to do and go take the first step by finding an online course that will help you move towards it.

Many people are adapting their regular socializing with friends and neighbours to fit the current situation and still having cocktail and dinner parties. This article will provide some great information about how to organize your own cocktail party

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/drinks/a31902031/virtual-happy-hour-cocktail-party-ideas/

Virtual dinner parties have recently taken off, and there are a large variety of ways to do it.  You can all cooking the same recipe (complete with wine paring) and compare notes much like a book club. If you are insistent on being the host, you could cook for your guests and deliver the meals to their door steps ready to pop in the over.  Or try dinning out IN by individually ordering from a local restaurant (the restaurant will appreciate the business), dining in with friends is a great social way to spend an evening at a distance.

 

https://www.delish.com/entertaining/a31745625/how-to-host-a-virtual-dinner-party/

 

https://www.myrecipes.com/how-to/video-conference-dinner-party

 

Have a virtual house party.

 

If you are have always enjoyed hosting  house parties, consider the Houseparty App. It has recently jumped from number 304 to number 2 in the apple store. The Beauty of Houseparty is that you can not only throw a party with your friends, you can also plan games together like Pictionary, Heads Up and Quick Draw. And if things get a little competitive you wont need to go to another room to calm down.

https://houseparty.com

The word trivia refers to unimportant things…trivial in nature. But for many people the game of Trivia if far from trivial.  It got a huge revival through the board game trivial pursuit and today, games of trivia are played at parties, in bars and pretty much anywhere a group of people can be gathered.

In today’s new normal social distancing there are many ways that people can socialize and play trivia games. One is to join in with established games. A quick search will likely find one or two that are online and recruiting players. You can form teams separated physically but all playing on the same side.   If you want to skip the local search, here are some alternatives.

HQ Trivia

HQ Trivia launched in August 2017 and it grew quickly in popularity by persuading mobile users to log in at specific times twice a day for a chance to win cash prizes. At one point, HQ Trivia was drawing millions of players daily, with each episode offering 15 minutes of multiple-choice questions covering a range of topics. After shutting down in Feb 2020, it has been relaunched and it is an easy way to start playing trivia with others.

Create your own

There are many web sites that provide individuals with opportunities to join existing communities of trivia players and others with formats / instructions on how to create custom made trivia questions and information about how to create their own online experiences with family and friends.  Here are a few quiz programs ready to join or build your own.

QuizUp is a free, award-winning multiplayer trivia game. Challenge friends and meet new people who share your interests.

www.quizup.com

 

Triviaplaza offers quizzes on Pop Music, Movies, Geography, Science, Computers, Literature, Classical Music and more.

https://www.triviaplaza.com/

 

Build your own.

You will find plenty of sites that will help you make your own quizzes and use established online platforms to play with family and friends. Here are a few.

Trivia Maker: One of the most popular sites is Trivia Maker that helps you create and host your own trivia games.

https://www.triviamaker.com/

Sporacle offers help on making online quizzes, invite others to take your quiz and how they do.

https://sporacle.com/create/

 

Bingo meets Trivia

Answer random questions and compete against other people in real time in this trivia-filled fresh take on the classic game of Bingo.

https://www.sporcle.com/bingo/

All of us at some point in time will have sat down with friends to enjoy a film.  It used to be on DVDs and recently, it has been on demand movies streamed online. During this time, continuing to do so is still possible.

Netflix Party is a Chrome extension that allows you to watch the same film as your friends at exactly the same time and chat on screen while hyou do so.  If you like to discuss plot lines and actors’ performances as you watch a film, Netflix Party can provide that opportunity and make your film viewing more sociable. NOTE: For Netflix Party to work, all friends must have their own Netflix account or have access to one.

Here are instructions on how to connect

Youtube video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QI8ta0uvCT4

Print description

https://www.techadvisor.co.uk/how-to/photo-video/how-use-netflix-party-3637310/

Other video sharing services.

There are a number of alternatives to Netflix Party available as well and they are all outlined on this site.

https://www.producthunt.com/alternatives/netflix-party

There are a number of platforms through which to handle your event. We have collected a few that are the most command and offer basic free services. Some offer a more robust, paid version which provides extended time and increased numbers of guests you can invite.

Zoom: The Zoom platform is a serious tele-meeting product that in its free version can connect up to 100 people for up to 40 minutes without everyone having to reconnect. The paid version will allow many, many more attendees and you are not limited in time

Face time: This platform is for Apple users and is already on all Apple portable devices … phones and i-pads.  It can handle a large group of participants approaching 40 or more.

Google hang out: google hang out is built into products like Gmail and allows up to 10 people to connect into your party.

Skype: Skype has been around a long time and is a free service for normal person to person contact, however a premiums subscription of $ 10 per month is required to hook in a large group time to talk.

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