Over the past few weeks and in a strange turn of events, I’ve come to dislike one question more than the all-dreaded “How’s your dating life looking?” bit.
That question, you ask?
“What have you been up to today?”
My mom has asked me. My friends have asked me. My grandmother has asked me. Ladies and gentlemen, sorry to disappoint, but my answer is the same as it was yesterday. And *spoiler alert* when you ask me tomorrow, it’ll be the same too. I’ve made my bed, switched from my night pajamas to my daytime pajamas, worked from home, cooked a barely-edible meal, did the dishes, and binged yet another episode of Ozark. I wish I had more to report to you, truly.
It’s a habit of mine to ask people about their day-to-day happenings, but over the past few weeks, I’ve come to swiftly learn that this is a quick and sure way to dull any conversation. 2020 has turned the common and familiar conversation starters of “What are you up to?” and “How was your day?” into a sad buzzkill. There’s no place more painful to hear the crickets chirp in response than in the scheduled Zoom/FaceTime calls with our friends and families.
I’ll give myself and my people props… we’ve been doing pretty well at staying in touch during this season of isolation. I won’t say our conversations have gotten boring per se, but I will say that we have completed the intro level to social distancing and are ready to level up. If you are ready for level two, here are some ways to spice up your video chats to foster the human connection we’re all longing for:
1. Teach your friends your favorite recipe
Oh, you guys want to learn about my nine-year journey of how I perfected the preparation of Totino’s pizza rolls? I thought you’d never ask.
Real talk, I don’t know how I didn’t think about this one sooner. It takes a bit of planning (sending out your ingredient list and what you’ll need to prepare said dish) but it’s the perfect way to spread love, laughs, and knowledge among your crew. I told my mom about this idea and, before she blinked, she volunteered her homemade lasagna recipe, which my siblings and I will be learning next week. Gordon Ramsey, I’m coming for you!
2. Host a game night
If you think that social distancing would keep me from schooling you in The Office trivia, you’re wrong. Aside from interactive games like Pictionary, Charades, trivia, Bingo, or a scavenger hunt (finding items around the house like toilet paper, a wine glass, a plant you haven’t killed yet, etc.), there are plenty of other games that are video-chat friendly. These are some of my favorite options that are worth mentioning:
One of my new favorites and another worthy IG find (classic) We’re Not Really Strangers is at the top of my list. The game is a mix of a more civil and Cards Against Humanity and a more complex Apples to Apples. It includes cue cards of thought-provoking questions like, “What are you currently working through that others don’t see?”
Speaking of Cards Against Humanity, the online game Remote Insensitivity is a similar concept that is fun to play with your adult friends. Remote Insensitivity creates a shareable link that generates a virtual card table for you and your party to foster inappropriate humor galore.
If you’re looking to dance it out, you’re going to be pumped about this one. Did you know that you don’t need a video gaming console to play Just Dance? Say what? This is news to me. Apparently as long as you have a smartphone, you can tune in with your friends and all play together. Let the laughs and cringe-worthy dance moves commence!
And last but not least, I present Jackbox Games, your new virtual game night holy grail. It’s another forum that allows you to play along remotely with friends and family with the use of your smartphone as the controller. Our editorial director, Allyson, played this Trivia Murder Party situation last weekend and gave it rave reviews.
3. Movie, series, or book club
Alright world, I have a confession to make: I haven’t read one book during isolation (my third-grade teacher Mrs. Slusher would be so disappointed). However, I have been absolutely crushing the Netflix-series-watching game, and I feel like that deserves some sort of respect as well. Pick a topic (TV series, documentary, podcast episode, movie, book, or album) that you and your party would be most interested in and get to chatting. If you want to be fancy (and organized over the inevitable Zoom chaos), create some open-ended questions for your group to discuss. For example: Who is the most good looking character in Outer Banks? Also, if you don’t say John B., I respect your opinion but you’re wrong.
4. Power hour
Hello, sweet nostalgia. If you’ve never done yourself the favor of searching “power hour playlist” on YouTube, you’re missing out. My friends and I used to play these 60-minute music video compilations in the background of our before-bar pregames, and there were plenty of times where we’d kick off our heels, order pizza, and stay in to continue listening to all of the ’90s hits our hearts desired. Pick a playlist, start it at the same time as your friends, and boom—instant party. Don’t forget to pop a bottle of wine for extra credit!