Hosting A Dinner Party During Self-Isolation
In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned all of our lives upside down. With social distancing orders being enforced, we are all expected to stay home as much as possible to keep one another safe. While staying home can be hard at times, it has led to a resurgence in a lot of fun and engaging activities like puzzling, knitting, and exploring new recipes!
Many people have taken advantage of the additional time they’re spending at home to explore new recipe ideas and discover easy meals that they can make with the ingredients they have on hand. Preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week is the new reality we are all facing, and while this may seem daunting, the good news is that there are countless resources available to support people who are new to the cooking game (like our Recipes page – check it out for a range of healthy and easy meal ideas).
One of the best parts about people cooking more food at home is that they are becoming more adventurous – and even excited – to find new dinner ideas, discover cooking hacks, and even attempt to make a fancy dinner at home for their families to enjoy! This newfound excitement around home cooking has inspired us to share our best tips for hosting a virtual dinner party with your closest friends and family members over video chat.
Tips for Hosting the Best Digital Dinner Party
Food has always had the power to bring people together. Even when we are social distancing, we know we can still find ways of coming together when food is part of the equation!
Here are our best tips for hosting a successful virtual dinner party to stay connected with loved ones and try easy dinner recipes together!
Planning Your Dinner Party
Although your dinner party will be digital, there are still lots of details you will need to plan to make sure your virtual event is a success.
Choose the Theme
Choosing a theme for your dinner party is going to be the hardest (and most fun) part of planning your event because the options are endless! Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding on a virtual dinner party theme:
- Should we all make the same meal, or the same type of cuisine? For example, should we all cook spaghetti and meatballs, or should everyone make Italian food?
- Are there any easy meals we all want to try cooking, or do we want to challenge ourselves and have everyone prepare a fancy dinner at home?
It is important when choosing your theme to consider how much you and your guests want to spend on the meal, and what types of ingredients you may need to purchase. Here are a few tips for planning your event’s theme:
- Choose a dinner recipe that doesn’t have too many ingredients, and make sure you can easily find all of its ingredients at your local grocery store.
- You can choose themes for other parts of your dinner party – consider assigning a theme to the drinks or desserts you’ll enjoy, or even to your attire (because we all need an excuse to get dressed up these days).
- If you have guests who have unique dietary needs, try and choose easy dinner ideas that will be simple for them to modify.
Choose the Time & Date
Although everyone’s schedules should be relatively free during this time of self-isolation, it is still important to ensure your event date and time do not conflict with all your guests’ new schedules.
When deciding on the time your dinner party will begin, consider the evening’s theme. Are you all hopping on your video call while making dinner, or signing on when your food is just being taken out of the oven? This is an important detail to clarify when finalizing the start time for your event.
Organize the Logistics
With an online event comes special logistical details that you will need to iron out in the planning process.
One thing to consider when sending your invitations is what will be the easiest way to get your dinner party on everyone’s radar. Consider sending everyone an email outlining the event information or sending a group text to all your guests. You can also pick up the phone and give each of your guests a call to extend the invitation!
It is also important to pick a video chat platform that everyone can easily use and that will support the amount of people you are inviting to your digital dinner party. Here is a quick outline of the most popular video chat platforms:
- FaceTime – If everyone has an iPhone, you can use FaceTime which supports up to 32 people on one video call.
- Skype – Create a free Skype account and video chat with up to 50 people at once.
- Google Hangouts – If everyone has a Gmail account you can use Google Hangouts and video chat with 25 people at a time.
- WhatsApp – Another free platform, WhatsApp supports up to 8 people on one video call.
Also ensure that everyone has a reliable internet connection. Streaming video (which includes participating in video calls) can use a lot of data, so make sure you and your guests have the proper wi-fi connection and data limits.
With everyone using some type of device to video chat, it may not be a bad idea to remind everyone to charge their phones, tablets, or laptops before signing on, and to have a charger cable and power outlet handy just in case!
Create the Itinerary
There are a few important tips to keep in mind when planning the full itinerary for your digital dinner party.
In our current situation, asking people what they have been up to lately might get old fast, so come up with some engaging topics for your dinner party discussion. By preparing these ahead of time, you avoid any awkward lulls in the conversation that often happen during video calls.
There is also no reason to stop at dinner – you can plan some fun activities or games to play for when dinner is done! Here are some ideas:
- Charades is a classic party game that never gets old. Decide on your teams and get miming!
- Have one person describe a scenario or scene, and when they are done, take turns playing a song that could be the soundtrack to that scene. This game is a great way to get creative and listen to some nostalgic music together!
- Host a trivia night (and keep it on-theme for bonus dinner party host points)!
And finally, don’t plan too long of a party – video chatting can be taxing (especially if you or your guests have been working remotely and video conferencing for work, as well). Aim for a dinner party that lasts 1.5-3 hours in total. But if things are running smoothly, don’t cut the party short! A nice long get together may be exactly what everyone needed to feel like things were (sort of) back to normal.
5 Easy Dinner Ideas for Your Digital Dinner Party
Having trouble choosing what meal to make or theme to choose for your virtual dinner party? Here are 5 easy dinner ideas that you and your guests can cook together!
Mexican Theme: Fajitas & Fresh Guacamole
Fajitas are an easy dinner recipe for all your guests to cook as they can be completely customized to everyone’s palette. If you have any vegetarians joining, they can swap out the classic chicken or beef in their fajitas for extra veggies or black beans. And fresh guacamole is the perfect side to tie everything together!
Find our Chicken or Beef Fajitas recipe here!
Find our Fresh Guacamole recipe here!
Italian Theme: Feta Bruschetta Chicken
Many people love to serve bruschetta as an appetizer, but our Feta Bruschetta Chicken recipe makes this crowd-pleasing starter into a flavor-rich main course meal!
Find our Feta Bruschetta Chicken recipe here!
Breakfast-for-Dinner Theme: Grilled Pepper & Tomato Frittata
Who doesn’t love easy breakfast-for-dinner meals? Frittatas are a quick meal to cook, and they are a great way to use up odds and ends in your fridge. Our frittata recipe features Peppers and Tomatoes, but you can add a lot of other veggies to the mix like broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, or kale!
Find our Grilled Pepper & Tomato Frittata recipe here!
Homemade Pizza Theme: Take Your Pick!
Homemade pizza is another easy dinner idea that can be easily customized by each of your guests. Everyone can make their pizza exactly how they like it, choosing their favorite toppings, crust, and sauce.
We have a lot of pizza recipes that feature fresh ingredients, so if your guests are looking for some pizza-themed inspiration, here are some of our most popular homemade pizza recipes:
Find our Cherry Tomato Pizza recipe here!
Find our Grilled Vegetable Naan Pizza here!
Find our Tandoori Curry Chicken Pizza here!
Backyard Barbecue Theme: Burgers Galore!
If the weather is nice enough, why not take the cooking outside and host a virtual barbecue? You can grill up your favorite barbecue fare, including homemade burger patties packed with fresh veggies and plant-based protein.
Find our Savory Chicken Burgers recipe here!
Find our Bell Pepper Burgers recipe here!
Start Planning Your Virtual Dinner Party
Just because we all need to practice social distancing doesn’t mean we need to be socially distant – with the help of technology, we can still stay connected with our friends and families and find creative ways to make fun memories that will last a lifetime.
Start planning your quarantine dinner party today!