Your day-to-day routine has probably changed a lot over the last few weeks, but there's no reason you should be riding solo for Thursday happy hour or Sunday brunch. No, we're certainly not suggesting that you ignore social-distancing practices, but we are encouraging you to jump on the virtual hangout bandwagon STAT.
Groups of friends and colleagues across the planet are organizing these digital meetups to break up the monotony of working from home and introduce a bit of normalcy back into their lives. Though nothing will ever compare to clinking mimosas with your friends IRL, this tech hack can help you feel more connected to the people you love—even if you can't be in the same room.
Not used to coordinating a virtual hang outside of work? Stock your bar cart and allow us to help with six foolproof tips to get you started.
1. Build your guest list and set a date. Have you ever been in a work-related Google Hangout that involves more than 20 people? If you're nodding your head, you know that a gathering of that size can quickly turn chaotic. Babies crying, heavy breathers breathing, and dogs barking! The same logic applies to your social meetup: Limit the size of your party to 10 people max. Once your guest list is solid, send an email invite to participants with a link to the chat and any instructions they need to set up the technology you're using (Google Hangouts, Zoom and FaceTime seem to be the most popular outlets at the moment).
2. Enlist tech support. While we're on the subject: It'll make your life a helluva a lot easier if you assign one person to handle tech support—i.e. your nerdiest friend who works for an emerging startup. This person can set up the meeting, send out the link and troubleshoot your tech-deficient friends. We're all in this together, after all.
3. Coordinate your booze. Now that you've got the logistics ironed out, it's time to synch up your menus. If you're doing brunch, suggest mimosas or bloody marys. Coordinating a post-work happy hour? Consider sharing an easy cocktail recipe with your group—something with three ingredients or less, like a whiskey sour, a classic margarita or a Moscow Mule. If you want to keep it even easier, suggest everyone crack open a bottle of wine and share a bit about what they're drinking. (Yes, even you in the back with the Barefoot red moscato.)
4. Order delivery or get cookin'. If everyone in your group lives in the same city, why not coordinate takeout or delivery from the same restaurant? Not only will you be showing some local love, but you can also compare notes with your fellow virtual diners to see what everyone ordered—kind of like you would if you were all sitting around a table together. We understand that every city is operating under different restrictions right now, so use your best judgment. If ordering in isn't an option, circulate some recipe inspo and fire up the oven.
5. Keep it casual. It's okay to be mad, sad or even downright furious about what's happening outside right now. We're not saying you shouldn't talk about coronavirus and how it has affected your day-to-day life, but try to find moments of hilarity and normalcy in your conversation, too. Ask your friends what they're doing to stay sane. Show off your grumpy, overweight cat. Bitch about your roommate's bad habits (out of earshot, of course).
6. Find a charitable cause to "tip" at the end of the night. Just like you would at the end of a long night out with friends, close out your tab (put the cap back on the whiskey bottle) and tip your bar staff generously. If you're financially able, there are plenty of good causes that could use your support right now. Your favorite local watering hole probably has a GoFundMe page set up, or you could always order a gift card to your go-to restaurant or bar online—consider it an IOU for the future livelihood.Share the story