Friday and Saturday evenings haven't been quite the same amid the recent quarantine directive, causing many to skip out on their much-anticipated dining plans with friends and family. Fortunately, missing a night out can turn into a delightful evening in, by throwing a virtual dinner party. Knowing how to have a virtual dinner party takes a little planning, but we guarantee that all of the attendees will agree that virtual dinner parties are a blast!

Round-Up Your Dinner Guests

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As we practice social distancing, we miss out on moments in our lives that initiate and sustain relationships between our family, friends, and community, gathering around the dinner table to enjoy a meal is one of them.

A virtual dinner party is a unique opportunity to initiate contact with loved ones and sustain continued relationships during the quarantine. When developing a guest list for your dinner party, keep in mind, that no matter their cooking skill or lack there of being able to socialize after a long stretch at home will bring joy, relief of stress, and a sense of community to all who are invited. Hosting a virtual dinner party is an excellent way to help others and yourself stay positive when times get tough.

We recommend a guest list of four to six guests not to overcrowd the "room," and to allow an opportunity for guests to feel heard without feeling left out of the group.

Choose How You'll Meet

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Thanks to the new digital age, there are several ways for groups to meet up virtually. Now more than ever, more people have been familiarizing themselves with handy web meeting platforms such as Zoom, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Skype to connect with friends and loved ones while social distancing during the Coronavirus.

No matter what platform you decide to use, it's always a good idea to familiarize yourself with how an application operates before scheduling a time to meet- we also encourage your guests to do the same. Technical difficulties can put a real damper on your virtual party, and possibly sway others not to want to participate in the future.

FaceTime

For those wanting to enjoy a virtual dinner with their parents, or grandparents, we suggest sticking to FaceTime, as it's familiar, and it also supports multiple people similar to other popular platforms. Start your virtual dinner party using Group FaceTime from the FaceTime app or a group conversation in the Messages app. You can party with up to 32 people on Group FaceTime.

Zoom

For those new to the digital meeting world, Zoom's basic plan is free; however, it does have a time limit on how long those meetings can be. Since Zoom's basic plan only allows for 40 minutes of meeting time, we propose Zoom for shorter dinner parties. Zoom would be perfect for virtual dinner parties where dinner is already made, such as take-out, or conversing over drinks. A user with a basic plan can host a meeting with up to 100 participants!

Skype

Skype has been around for quite some time and is similar to FaceTime, and Zoom. However, it is both free and has a time-limit of four hours per call and 100 hours per month. Skype video can support up to 50 people at once.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is another free video conferencing service, with no time limits, and more straightforward user experience, compared to Zoom. Google Hangouts video call can support up to 25 people at once

Choose A Meal

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Hosting a dinner party is slightly different than a traditional dinner party because you won't hear any guests ask, "Can I bring something?" Instead, the guests will be cooking alongside you, as everyone prepares the same dish. If cooking isn't your group's cup of tea, have everyone choose a restaurant and order take out. Many restaurants are now waiving delivery fees, similar to many other useful services that weren't free before social distancing.

When choosing recipes for your virtual dinner party, be mindful of how the current Coronavirus outbreak could affect your dinner guest's access to certain ingredients at their local grocer. Consider recipes that are affordable and have a more simple approach, such as pantry dishes using at-home staples, and that doesn't require too much time.

Also, feel free to switch things up and prepare dishes other than dinner for your virtual meetup. Keep it light with appetizers and drinks, or make it all about the sweets with a virtual dessert party. Are you celebrating a child's birthday party quarantine-style? Invite friends and family to enjoy a virtual cupcake decorating baking birthday party!

Keep It Entertaining

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As the spirited bubbles fizzle out in your wine glass, don't let the fun fizzle out too. Fill those glasses back up, and keep the party going with lively conversation and fun activities. Even though we are all experiencing troublesome times, try to keep the conversation cheerful and positive.

Dinner and a movie? If you and your guests have Netflix, download Netflix Party. Everyone can simultaneously watch a Netflix movie or show while chatting about it live! Simply, send a link to your friends to join and let the watch party get started. Looking for some streaming recommendations? Check out our Quarantine Chronicles: Streaming In the Time of Corona.

If you’re finished with dinner and looking for a fun group activity, look no further than the House Party app. You and your guests will feel like you’re in the same room playing with House Party! House Party gives you and your virtual dinner guests the ability to play virtual games, such as Trivia, Quick Draw, and Heads Up. House Party allows you to party with up to eight people at once! House Party supports a seamless connection, allowing you to add your friends from many social media platforms to join in on the virtual fun!

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