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Depending on your location, you are likely somewhere between one and two months into social distancing due to COVID-19. We all share the feeling of being trapped in our home and disconnected from those closest to us, but don’t fret! When humanity is faced with crises, ingenuity is born from necessity.
Most of us seem to be adapting to video conferencing and virtual happy hours. Fortunately for me, I was able to introduce my grandmother to the technology as her surprise 90th birthday party. Instead of twelve of our family members taking a cruise off the coast of Florida in late April, we celebrated this milestone with her by blowing out candles on our respective doughnuts across six states over Zoom. Although it wasn’t a tropical vacation, she absolutely loved it! Now we have a weekly Sunday game night, though, as I’m sure many of you have experienced, not all video conferencing can be so memorable. So, how do we spice up our social distancing social lives?
1) Dinner Roulette
Since we can’t break bread with our friends and family in person, this may be the next best thing. Think: Secret Santa crossed with food delivery. We can all eat, drink, and be merry together over video conferencing while awaiting our mystery food.
Here’s how to set up dinner roulette. It is simple but does require some orchestration.
● Once you have your list of participating households, set up a random name drawing. I used DrawNames.com, though any Secret Santa name-drawing site should work so long as there’s an open text field to create a profile. More on why that matters in a second…
● As a group, determine the following details:
o What is the budget?
With two people per household, we chose $50 per household before tax and tip.
o When are we “meeting up” and ordering?
Pick a date and time with plenty of advance notice for participants to register with the name-drawing website and complete their profiles. Say… start video and order the food on Friday at 7PM.
● Now the profiles. This is how you communicate the necessary details for someone else to buy your household a delivery dinner. Use this open text field to enter the following information:
o Your own delivery address
o Any special delivery instructions
o Your own phone number
o Food allergies, avoidances, or preferences
o Restaurant no-gos or preferences
● Finally, it is time to plan the dinner for your assigned household. Use all your resources to find the most interesting and tasty menu – Google, Uber Eats, GrubHub, etc.
(Important note: Include instructions for the driver to call your intended recipient instead if yourself).
● Its go time! Everyone should press order at the same time , shortly after starting the video chat. All the food should arrive around 30-60 minutes into the video conference. Sometimes there is a helpful option to order in advance and schedule a delivery window.
● Lastly, grab yourself an aperitif and catch up over video conference while everyone’s mystery meals make their way to their respective stoops. When they arrive, try to guess who bought each other dinner!
2) At-Home Restaurant Experience
What do you miss most about eating out before COVID-19? Food that was not cooked in bulk? Inspired menus? Wait service? Or perhaps even just having someone else cook for you?
Well there is a way to get all of the above. One person plays restauranteur for others in the household, then you rotate the responsibility so everyone gets to host and be a guest. Don’t stop there. Setup the full experience with proper place settings, ambiance, drink service, and multiple courses. This is the perfect time to try some of those Tasty recipes you flagged on Facebook months ago.
Maintaining mental stimulation and honing your competitive edge can be difficult while in quarantine. How many hours can be spent playing cellphone games and solitaire before burning out those options? Here are some inspired games you can play with anyone, anywhere.
3) Virtual Games
Computer and console gaming advancements in the 21st century is not limited to the likes of Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty. There are plenty of traditional and unconventional games that have become available through the rise of the streaming-era.
● Jackbox – A virtual game room where cellphones are, in fact, players’ video game controllers! Jackbox is a series of cooperative and competitive mini-games for 2-10 players, plus the option for contributing audience members to join if you have a large crowd (up to 10,000). My favorite mini-game is Quiplash XL on the Jackbox Party Pack 2. Think, Cards Against Humanity and Apples to Apples, but everyone writes their own answers to the prompt. Family-friendly prompts are available.
● Tabletop Simulator – A tabletop board game simulator where you can play classic games, new games, and user-created games. Audio conferencing included with your game avatar. Are you a Settlers of Catan fan like me? Well, it is available for free on Tabletop Simulator.
● Skribbl – A free drawing and guessing game much like Pictionary, but without the board. Players can join a random game or setup a game room for their friends and family.
● Boardgame Arena – A free alternative to Tabletop Simulator with many of the same classics as well as some newer games.
4) Video Conference-Friendly Games
If only all board games had their respective digital versions. We aren’t quite there, yet, but here are some physical games that can be easily run or modified to run virtually from a single “host”.
● Listography – A game of lists. Everyone is provided the same prompt and list-creation goal. The goals vary, from extremely unique answers to common answers everyone should know. At the end of each timed round, all players compare answers to earn points. Some answers make sense, others may miss the mark and earn a laugh.
● Password – Teams work together to guess a password but only after being provided single-word clues by their partner. Harder than it sounds.
● Charades– Get up and move! If you are not familiar with this game, the rules are simple. Act out your prompt while your teammates guess. There are versions of the game for purchase, as well as free websites to generate charade prompts.
● Pictionary – Another classic. Receive a word or phrase prompt then draw it out. Your partner or team must guess before time runs out. Like Charades, there are free online prompt generators in addition to games for purchase. Zoom even has a white board function so your team can easily see your artwork.
MENTAL AND PHYSICAL WELLBEING
Fresh air and working up a sweat are great ways to manage mental and physical health. But with gyms and fitness classes shut down due to COVID-19, many people have had to settle for running or other various at-home options. Even if you are not into working out, we can all probably agree that enjoying spring brunches on restaurant patios and strolling in city parks are sorely missed. Alternative fitness options and walks around the neighborhood can help us get by, but they lack one critical element – being around other people. Here’s how you can get a dose of social distancing socialization while burning calories and enjoying the spring season.
*Before continuing, it’s important to stress that all government and medical guidelines pertaining to COVID-19 should be followed while partaking in outdoor activities. Please check local government guidelines, be sure to abide by shelter-in-place rules and avoid trespassing due to closures.
With the great outdoors it should be easy to manage a six-foot separation from companions and other hikers. Pack your own snacks and water, then meet up at a trail. After a few miles in the sun, breathing some spring air, you will feel rejuvenated and energized. Many trails are even dog friendly! Remember to research which trails are still open so that you are not surprised by a barricaded parking lot.
6) Yard Work
Yard work might not be the first thing that comes to mind for exercise or enjoying the outdoors. According to my smart watch, I burn between 700 and 1,500 calories in any of my yard work sessions. On top of the workout, seeing the progress provides a rewarding sense of accomplishment. Turn this into a social distancing social activity by helping an elderly neighbor with some yard work or invite an apartment-dwelling friend over to divide and conquer.
7) Community Cleanups
Dorchester community cleanups have been a buzz on the NextDoor social media platform. For those who have not heard of NextDoor, it is a community-focused social media application for hyper-local communication, buying/selling, and news. It has been an invaluable tool for community COVID-19 discussions as well as virtual socialization. Throughout the spring people have organized community cleanups street by street on NextDoor. But why stop there? What about the parks and beaches that just seem to accumulate trash?
8) Social Media Workout Challenges
Unfortunately, some days the weather forces us to stay inside. Social media contributors have risen to the task with a new round of fitness challenges.
Are you new to working out?
Then perhaps start with the #10PushupChallenge, a.k.a. #See10Do10Challenge. Simply complete 10 pushups on video, then send to your social media friends with the challenge and hashtag.
Think you can do more?
Every day do one pushup for each day of quarantine. Either COVID will end soon or you earn a toned chest, arms, and abs.
Do you consider yourself to be a fit individual?
Take on the #SpellYourName Challenge. Your workout is determined by the letters of your name. There are many alphabetic workout “menus” available, but this seems one to be the most widely shared. Now the question is, do you go by “Steph” or “Stephanie”?
9) Social Media Challenges
On the note of trendy social media challenges, here are a few you can do to entertain yourselves, your friends, and your family. They are also just entertaining social media content to watch. If you have not been introduced already, this may be your crash course into the blooming video social media platform called TikTok.
Set to the Drake song, “Flip the Switch”, you and a dance partner casually or not so casually dance while filming yourselves in a mirror. At some point turn the lights off and pause the video recording immediately. Now, the critical step……swap clothes with your dance partner. When ready, start dancing again and unpause the video recording as you turn the lights back on. The effect will be an instant attire change as the lights flickered. The TikTok app allows you to pause mid-recording, then continue, and repeat as many times as desired. Users can also overlay music to finish the effect of an instant, well-timed attire change when the song lyrics say “flip the switch”. No fancy video editing required.
Set to the Ciara song, “Level Up”, people and animals alike jump over obstacles that become progressively higher with each pass. All attempted while filming, of course. Most people appear to be stacking paper towels and toilet paper in doorways which may double as bragging about their pandemic stockpiles.
This is much simpler than the prior two challenges, but may take more courage. Post an embarrassing picture of yourself on Facebook and/or Instagram with the hashtag #UntilTomorrow as the only caption. Don’t worry. It only stays up for 24 hours. At the end of the time period, you message everyone who liked or commented on your photo. They are next and must post an embarrassing picture of themselves #UntilTomorrow.
10) Email Threads
WAIT! Do not roll your eyes and skip this one.
I know……email threads. How long has it been since you have been excited to be on an email thread? Perhaps back with your first AOL email? Here are two engaging ideas that can succeed in a variety of settings – with colleagues, friends, and extended family.
The Daily Connection
Each day or every few days one person on the email thread shares how they are adjusting to this new social distancing normal. How are they staying entertained? What are they watching? What are they doing with their family or roommates? Sharing pictures is encouraged. At the end, they nominate the next person to tell everyone about their new normal.
With more time at home and restaurants closed everyone is cooking more than ever. It is best to avoid over-using the same go-to recipes. Your sanity and appetite will thank you. Start an email thread where everyone can share their favorites from the past, and new recipes they’ve discovered during quarantine. Bonus points if you use one of your newfound recipes from playing “Restauranteur!”
Henry EisemannDigital Marketing & Business Intelligence