12 Virtual Hang-Out Ideas for Keeping Up With Friends While Isolating

woman sitting at desk facetiming

Illustration by Alice Morgan

For those seeking a useful way to spend their time during social distancing—or anyone simply interested in forging a deeper connection with their homes—HB has launched Home Love, a series of daily tips and ideas to make every minute indoors more productive (and gratifying!).

Keeping up with your loved ones is typically a true multi-sensory juggling act (an incredibly worthwhile one, of course). There are friends to coordinate meet-ups with in your hometown; road trips and long flights to plan for longer-distance loved ones; and then flurries of texts, calls, and possibly even snail mail letters to be sent and received. It’s a lot! But these days, while most of the country is under strict stay-at-home directives, connecting with people is strangely…simplified.

Sure, we can holler at our neighbors over the fence or wave at friends through the window. But the only true get-togethers are those that can take place virtually: on Zoom, Facetime, WebEx, Slack, etc. That much is news to nobody. But for me, at least, the result has been—very surprisingly—a good thing. Maybe it’s because I just miss everyone so damn much, maybe it’s because of the weird pit in my stomach about the world being in upheaval. But, it turns out I’m “seeing” and talking to all of my people so much more than usual.

For example: For a decade, I’ve lived 700+ miles from my mom and dad, and we’d catch up once a week at the absolute most. But now I’m thinking about them constantly—Are they safe and healthy? What are they doing with all their time? (The mind wanders.)—so we’re chatting way more than usual. These days, I call my mom just to say hi, text her pictures of my cooking projects, Facetime her at 4pm with absolutely no agenda. I get how much she always says she misses me. As Phillip Picardi so aptly put it in this essay for Healthyish last week, “it may have taken the fear induced by a global pandemic, but I think I finally grasp the scope of my mother’s love.”

But it’s not just my mom: I recently had a Zoom cocktail hour with the 10 women I lived with in college, their adorable toddlers weaving in and out of the frames. (Way more efficient than the year-long planning we put into our onetime IRL reunion.) I’m Facetiming and sometimes even Marco Polo-ing with friends I’d normally see only occasionally in person. And my brother and I chatted for over an hour into the wee hours of last Saturday night (the first time we’ve done that since… college?). Mostly, it is heart-wrenching to be apart right now, but in a way, it’s bringing me so much closer to everyone I love. And that is a very good thing.

12 Virtual Hang-Out Ideas

The recipe for a good virtual hang-out? Some amount of activity to stimulate conversation, but of the brainless variety. You can’t re-organize the pantry with your mom on the phone because you’ll get distracted from both activities!

Make Dinner Choose the same recipe, then troubleshoot unrisen doughs and boiled-over rice pots together.

Watch TV or a Movie Netflix Party has never been so timely.

Go on a Walk Admittedly trickier via video (your arm would get tired) but a very good idea for a phone call.

Go Somewhere Green (So long as you can stay six feet from everyone there!) A tripod makes this hang-out way more pleasant virtually.

Do a Workout Class Tap into one of the zillion live-streams different studios are hosting on Instagram Live, or take one of these classes together.

Throw a Cocktail Party BYO-appetizer.

Host Brunch BYO-boozy beverage.

Read a Book To someone—like your nieces and nephews.

Play a Game Here are nine ideas that work virtually.

Have a Coffee Date Elaborate latte-making not required, but worth considering.

Tour the House Show your friends where you live! And the results of any DIY or cleaning-out projects you’ve been dabbling in on the weekends.

Paint a Painting Doodling has never been so cathartic. And look, you just improved your home decor!

Follow House Beautiful on Instagram.

For more Home Love ideas, head here—we’ll be launching a new one every day until April 1st. And tag your own home project photos #homelove for everyone to enjoy.

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