Before lockdown, my boyfriend and I would have people over and throw dinner parties all the time, and we miss it! Any ideas for how to throw a creative virtual party?!
Dying to Party
Dear Dying to Party,
Virtual fatigue is REAL! After a long day of Zoom meetings, we totally get that hopping on Facetime or video chat with friends actually feels like more of a drag than we want it to. What was first a creative challenge for staying in touch from a distance, now can feel like screen overload. We know it’s tough to stay home all day, and for the hosts among us, losing the ability to have people over and share our spaces is really sad, even if temporary! The good news is, there are some ways to make virtual hosting a little more interactive and fun, and it just might cure that virtual fatigue!
Here are some ideas to try out:
Step 1: Create a Menu to Share
Curate the experience! Decide on your menu ahead of time (a few days at least), and send it around to your guests so that everyone has time to get the ingredients. Best to choose something that isn’t incredibly difficult, but still feels special enough for a dinner party. You could send out a quick e-vite with all your ingredients listed, as well as any prep needed (before step 2)!
Step 2: Host a Pre-Dinner Cooking Party
In your initial invitation, include an hour or so (obviously recipe-dependent) before your actual meal time to have everyone set up their computers/phones in the kitchen so that you can all cook together! Once everyone has their ingredients and has done any initial prep, you can play head chef and lead everyone through the recipe.
3) Clean as You Go:
Personally, and I know I’m not unique in saying this, my least favorite part of cooking is cleaning. During quarantine, I’ve - I don’t want to say mastered - but gotten close to mastering the art of cleaning as I go. Encouraging all your guests to do the same will help everyone feel less stressed at the end of the night, and it might help your friends build some good cooking/cleaning habits that they’ll forever love you for!
Here’s how I think about it:
- Use ONLY what you need. If you need a spoon or spatula while cooking, give it a quick rinse and use it for other ingredients as you go (and then clean it for real at the end) - obviously this doesn’t apply to anything used for raw chicken, etc.
- If you only need to use something once, wash it right after you’re finished with it. Trust me. It takes 30 seconds. This is especially true for pots and pans…we all know soaking dishes overnight is a cop out and you’ll be annoyed with yourself for leaving them till morning.
- Think ahead. Sometimes it’s tempting to pull out a million little bowls and pretend you’re on a cooking show. But in reality, you really don’t need much. Chop your ingredients on a cutting board, and leave them there until you need them. If you’re grabbing a dish, ask yourself if you really need it.
- In the interest of saving clean up, serve from the stove! Keep everything warm in the pots/pans they were cooked in, and you/your roommates/family can grab their seconds and thirds from there.
4) Dress Code: No Sweatpants
Consider including a dress code in your invitation: NO SWEATPANTS!!! Set the table and encourage everyone to dress as they would to go to and IRL dinner party. :)
5) Timing is Everything:
When you’re sitting down for your virtual dinner, try to synchronize your courses with your friends or family so that you’re all eating together for the whole meal. Decide if you’re having salad first or last, maybe propose a toast - just act like you’re all actually at the table together!
6) ABC (Anything But COVID)
During dinner, we’d recommend trying to talk about anything other than COVID. Use this couple of hours to celebrate each other, talk about memories, and try to escape for a minute by not discussing the latest news. It’s a PARTY after all!
We know this still isn’t the same as a real dinner party, but hopefully sharing the experience of cooking together and eating the same meal will help it feel a little less distanced. Remember that this is all temporary, and soon enough we’ll all be gathered in our kitchens and living rooms with our friends again!
Let us know how your virtual parties are going! We’d love to see how you’ve gotten creative with socially distant celebrations @thelandingsocial or via writing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in #CreatingSpace,
Miranda and The Landing Team