29 April 2020

Life on the inside: 10 virtual activities to do with friends

29 April 2020

We have been forced to learn new and creative ways to keep in touch with loved ones and to keep ourselves entertained during lockdown.

While many are making use of apps such as Zoom and Houseparty for pub quizzes and occasional get-togethers, there are many other virtual activities you can do with pals through these apps and many others.

Here are 10 online activities you can do with friends:

1. Video games

Lockdown restrictions have made it easier for gamers who never normally step foot out of the house to play guilt-free.

For those with a games console, playing a game with a friend who may live down the road or 1,000 miles away is as easy as clicking a button.

Claire Murdoch comments (PA Wire)

For people who are not big fans of traditional video games can try their hand at multiplayer games available on most app stores.

There are hundreds of games to choose from, from classics such as Mario Kart to new favourites including Cards Against Humanity.

2. Netflix Party

The timely-launched Netflix Party allows users to stream TV shows and movies with friends and family.

The extension on Google Chrome also includes a chatroom for users to talk to one another, or you can have a separate video or voice app working in the background for those who are more tech-savvy.

It is especially useful for coordinating a virtual party, as it synchronises the show or film for everyone with a link, and so if one person hits the pause button it will pause for others too.

Netflix and SkyGo app (PA Archive)

3. Cooking classes

Many have taken up cooking as a hobby, with some showing off their newly-found prowess in the kitchen by posting pictures of freshly baked sourbreads, cakes and biscuits.

But making cooking a shared experience has never been easier with video calling apps to help you and your friends bake together.

There are also online cooking classes with chefs around the world, including famous faces such as Jamie Oliver, which allow groups to join and cook together.

4. Wine and beer tasting

Champagne Bureau Annual Tasting event (PA Archive)

If you want to learn more about your favourite tipple then online classes with friends could make a good social event.

Some wine companies, such as the aptly-named Grape Night In, are offering hosted virtual tasting sessions for groups.

If beer is more your thing, you can join the Beer Bods club which is hosting live tastings on social media every Thursday at 9pm.

For those wanting to try their hand at hosting their own tasting, there are plenty of online guides with tips and tricks.

5. Book club

Althorp Literary Festival 2015 (PA Archive)

Now is as good a time as any to wind down with a good book.

While there are plenty of existing book clubs you can join, hosting your own over a video chat is simple – the most difficult part is deciding what book to discuss with your friends.6. Exercise

While the public are allowed to exercise outdoors, why not keep motivated by working out with friends at home?

Having a workout buddy is a great way to touch base with a friend on a regular basis while simultaneously staying active.

Video calling makes it easier for multiple people to exercise together, be it a rigorous Zumba dance or a chilled out yoga session.

7. Dinner

If you are living on your own or are self-isolating, lonesome dinners will only serve to bore you even more than you already are.

A virtual dinner with friends can be fun, especially when you make a meal of it by adding candles and fancy wine.

8. Karaoke

Pubs and bars may be closed but that should not stop you from enjoying some disease-free karaoke.

It may require a little technical know-how to navigate between a video chat and karaoke versions of songs on YouTube, but once that is out of the way you are ready to sing to your heart’s content.

The Late Late Show (PA Media)

9. PowerPoint party

In pre-pandemic life, no one would have thought a fun activity could be had with a PowerPoint presentation.

But a nifty feature on Zoom does exactly that.

Users can prepare a presentation on the app about something they are interested in or care about, and present their PowerPoint to friends on a Zoom call.

The idea is for the presentation to be funny and entertaining, and the list of possible subjects is endless.

Social media users have shared their PowerPoint party ideas online, with suggestions including Netflix’s Tiger King, “why Harry Styles is actually Mexican” and “ranking the soundtrack to Toy Story 2”.

10. Arts and crafts

There is no excuse on earth not to get creative and make things during the pandemic.

You can challenge a friend with a DIY project using only supplies found in your home, or create a drawing or painting challenge inspired by a topic.

If stuck for ideas then there are plenty of artsy challenges doing the rounds on social media, such as the Getty Museum challenge, in which people recreate famous artwork using household items and dressing up.

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