You can still have fun during lockdown – and it’s more important than ever to put the effort into talking with friends and socialising. It might not be the same as seeing people face-to-face, but virtual contact still reduces loneliness, keeps you entertained and helps you to stay mentally healthy. A virtual dinner party is the perfect way to do it! Read our top tips on how to have the best lockdown dinner party with friends or family.
Virtual Dinner Party Tips
There are some key elements to every dinner party, including lockdown virtual parties!
The first step in hosting a lockdown party is deciding how you’re going to communicate with your friends without being physically present. There are loads of apps and platforms designed for this: Google hangouts, Zoom, Houseparty and Facetime are a few examples, among many others!
It’s essential to find a way to communicate face-to-face (so to speak!) rather than just over the phone. Eye contact and seeing other people is really helpful for promoting good mental health. It also means conversation can flow more easily as body language plays a big part in our communication with other people. The whole thing will feel more enjoyable!
Choosing the right device
You can use your phone for the party, but if you’re talking to a person for a longer period of time then a bigger device like a tablet or laptop can be more helpful. It’s often easier if it’s portable, rather than using a desktop computer, as you’ll see when it comes to table arrangements!
Top tip: If you are using your phone, also get a stand so it can be propped up without you needing to use your hands.
Try to find a method of communication that works best for everyone who’s part of the party.
You can’t have a dinner party without guests. Put together a guest list and contact people to see if they’re able to come along! This is a good time to check with people whether they have access to the right platform to communicate through a video chat.
How many guests should I invite?
It’s a good idea to keep the guest list more minimal. If this is your first lockdown dinner party, then maybe just start with one guest, or a couple who live together. This will help to keep things more simple.
If you’re a pro at video calls or virtual dinners, then why not invite a few others? It will help to keep the conversation flowing and mean you get to hang out with a few friends at once.
Remember to consider how many people are in your household. If you live on your own, you might be able to invite more guests more easily than if you already have six people around your table! Too many people can make the conversation harder to follow and more confusing.
The Dinner Table
While you won’t need to get out the extra leaf for your extendable dining table, sitting around the table is still essential for a dinner party, even a virtual one!
Sitting with your guests
Position the device you’re using for your call at the dinner table. Choose a spot where your guest/s can see you. If you’re in a household with lots of people, choose the place where they can best see everyone – or as many people as possible.
Being able to sit down and talk to your friends over the table helps your lockdown dinner party to feel more real, making the experience more fun!
If you’re on a call with a lot of people, choose a view on the device that works best for you. Many platforms will allow you to see lots of people at once or to automatically flick to the person who is speaking. Experiment with which you find easiest.
The key to any good dinner party is the food.
The very best way to have a virtual dinner party is to share the same meal. That way, you can talk about the food and it feels more like a normal dinner party! Of course, you can’t cook for everyone when you’re in different homes, but there are ways to share the same food…
Agree to cook the same meal
One way to do it is to cook the same meal. Have a chat with your guests and decide what you all want to cook. If you find a great recipe, share it round and all have a go! Be sure that everyone agrees and has the right ingredients and tools to cook the meal you want.
Try to coordinate so everyone involved is ready to eat at the same time.
Get takeaway from the same restaurant
To make it simpler, if you live in the same area, you could order food from the same restaurant. As the host (and if you’re feeling generous!), you could order a takeaway to arrive at the other person’s house, but it can be simpler to order separately – especially if you’re having a lockdown dinner party with more than one other person!
The key is timing. To have a successful virtual dinner party, you need to eat together. Order food at the same time and make sure you have a way to keep yours hot if it arrives before other people’s.
Top tip: If you live in different areas, you can order food from similar takeaways. For example, agreeing on pizza or Chinese food. This means it can still feel like you’re sharing a meal, rather than just calling each other while you’re eating.
After Dinner Entertainment
No dinner party can be complete without some entertainment! Here are some ideas for entertaining your guests over a video call so you can play games and have fun together even in lockdown.
Some platforms that you use for video chats also include games that can be played while you’re in a call with someone. Houseparty, for example, comes with sets of games designed for group calls.
Introduce Your Pets
The vast majority of people love seeing pets on video calls! Why not have a pet party after you’ve eaten dinner and introduce your dogs, cats, goldfish, chinchillas… or whoever else is keeping you company during lockdown!
All you need is a pen and some paper. Take it in turns to draw and hold it up to the screen and see who can guess first what the drawing is! You could use a random generator or, if you have Pictionary cards, select from them.
Host a quiz over a video call for some after dinner entertainment! You can easily find online quizzes or you could write your own to add a personal touch.
There are different ways to organise a quiz. Each individual can answer the questions on their own, but it can feel less fun for those with limited general knowledge!
If you are video calling people who are in the same household, you could get into teams by household. Alternatively, some platforms allow you to break into smaller groups within a call – such as Zoom’s breakout rooms.
Remember that these kinds of quizzes rely on honesty. You can’t police phone use, so you’ll just have to trust your friends not to cheat!
A Dress Code
This is less after-dinner entertainment and more throughout-dinner entertainment! Ask your guests to come in a particular dress code. For example, if you’re tired of wearing your comfy jogging bottoms all day, then why not go black tie?
Alternatively, try picking a theme for fancy dress. Remember that people won’t be able to go out to buy clothing to wear, so pick something that people will likely already have in the house, or keep it open so people can wear whatever they have available. You’ll end up with an interesting assortment!
Treasure hunt style games work well for slightly bigger groups. As the host, you can tell people to go and find a certain item from around the home – fastest to show it to the camera wins.
You could race to find anything from toilet roll (a precious commodity in these times!) to a packet of crisps. Whatever comes to mind!
Extra Tips For Lockdown Dinner Parties
Read our extra tips for hosting lockdown dinner parties to make it that little bit smoother and easier.
Practise Makes Perfect
A lockdown dinner party is unlikely to go perfectly the first time you try it. One person will video call from their kitchen because their food isn’t ready yet; someone else will have wifi problems and another person might have started on the wine a little early… Just remember that it’s about having fun and catching up.
The more times you do it, especially if you do it with the same friends, the better it will go!
Why not celebrate your friend’s (or your own!) birthday with a virtual dinner party. Get out the party hats and sing happy birthday! Post presents and cards to them a few days before and tell them to wait until the call to open their gifts. You might be able to find a delivery service that will bring them cake!
Follow our top tips and you can host awesome lockdown dinner parties!
Remember, even if you can’t host a dinner party, to be sure to keep in contact with friends and family, especially people you know live on their own.