11 ways to connect with family and friends over Zoom that aren't quizzes

Dusty Baxter-Wright
·5-min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

Much of 2020 was spent doing virtual quizzes with friends. From easy ones, to picture ones, to this-is-just-ridiculously-hard ones, quizzing was basically all that we did at one time. But now that your general knowledge is in tip-top shape, you'd be forgiven for being a little, well, over the quiz life, and wanting to find new ways to connect with friends and family on Zoom.

Here are some suggestions of small things you can do to keep relationships going and stay connected with your mates, while you're unable to see loved ones in the flesh.

Things to do on Zoom that aren't quizzes

1.Host a cook-a-long

In lieu of dinner party plans, organise a cook-a-long which concludes with you all eating the same dinner together. Send out an ingredient list to everyone getting involved but keep the recipe to yourself, and give step-by-step instructions to your friends or family over the video call, so it's like you're making something together. When it's complete, sit down at a table if you can, with the laptop positioned opposite you. Basically like a dinner party, right? Sort of.

2. Have a gift swap

Now more than ever, we could all do with a little pick-me-up. Why not arrange a secret Santa-esque gift swap with your friends, to be unwrapped on video call? Set a price limit and swap addresses, before scouring the internet for cute, uplifting things to send to each other. Use it as an opportunity to support a small business and send them something homemade, before opening the surprise gifts on Zoom.

Photo credit: Nina Vartanava / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Nina Vartanava / EyeEm - Getty Images

3. Do a crossword together

If you're running out of things to say to each other, it's OK. We get it. None of us are really doing anything right now, so keeping a conversation going can feel hard. Why not pick up a crossword book / a local newspaper and give a crossword a go? You can read out clues to your loved ones while on FaceTime, and try to solve the puzzle together.

4. Create some cocktails

Never have we missed long evenings in pubs and bars so much. It might not be quiiite the same, but organise a virtual cocktail party for some guaranteed fun, shaking your, er, shakers about and toasting over the phone. We're on the Margarita train, followed by Negronis and Whisky Sours. The best part? No night bus home. Winner.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

5. Host a compliment circle

Look 'wholesome' up in a 2021 dictionary, and a screen-grab of a Zoom compliment circle will come up. Missing your friends can feel tough, and lack of face-to-face time might make it feel like you're losing touch. Use your next catch up as a chance to reminisce over why you're friends and what you love about each other, and you're guranteed to feel closer than ever.

6. Have a silent disco

While there truly is no replica for pulling shapes on a sweaty dance floor, there are virtual alternatives. Once you've let your inhibitions go (see point four), get a group call going with your friends and start moving. There are loads of ways to make it work:

  • Create a playlist with a specific order and send it to all your pals. Listen to it through headphones, starting from the same song (and not on shuffle), so you're all on the same vibe without disturbing your neighbours.

  • Let one person be DJ for the night by putting everyone else is on mute, turning your speakers up loud and really going for it.

7. Organise an Escape Room or play an online game

Take the pressure off having full-blown conversations by organising an Escape Room or playing a multi-player game online. You can bond by completing tasks and figuring out clues without going through the same old 'So how's work?' lingo. Jackbox Games is full of interactive options and can be as silly or as tame as you like (depending on your company, presumably.)

Photo credit: Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman - Getty Images
Photo credit: Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman - Getty Images

8. Host your own Great British Bake Off

Someone show Noel Fielding the door because there's a new GBBO host in town. Agree on a bake with your pals (the more extravagant, the better - five tiered rainbow cake, anyone?) and all attempt it at the same time over Zoom. Give each other a ranking based on appearance and taste test your own, before deciding on a winner. Fun!

9. Watch Netflix together while apart

Some of your favourite friendships might usually involve watching Geordie Shore with a hangover together, so be sure to carry that on - even if it's virtual. Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension that means you can watch shows at the same time as a group of people. Or, you know, you could all just press play on Below Deck on Amazon Prime at the same time.

Photo credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX/NETFLIX
Photo credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX/NETFLIX

10. Put on a drawing class

No, no one has to be naked (unless they want to be). Set up a still life of every day objects, before signing into the Zoom call on two devices. Use one of them - probably your phone - to focus on the still life so that all of the participants can see, while the other one is for you to interact and engage with your pals. Set a time limit - 30 minutes is usually enough - for everyone to give the still life their best shot, before comparing at the end.

11. Play bingo

Sadly the likes of Bongo's Bingo and Bingo Lingo aren't going ahead right now, so bring the bingo hall fun to your homes instead. Ask every participant to create a grid of numbers 5 x 5 (so 25 numbers in total) from numbers between 1 - 100, before using an online tool like letsplaybingo to randomly call out numbers. Usual rules apply - you're looking for a row or a line, before a full house. Agree prizes between you. Alternatively, one person on the call could become the bingo caller. Funny bingo calls and sparkly outfit compulsory.

Consider your Zoom meet ups reinvigorated.

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