The age of social distancing in this digital age has turned out to be puzzlingly social. Despite lockdowns, working from home, and closed bars, restaurants, and other nighttime venues, people still want to have a fun night out with their friends. The ingenious way to meet this need is called the “virtual night out.” Here’s how to do it the right way and have fun doing it:
Dress as If You Are Going Out
So the email invites have been sent out with the link to your virtual night out. But before you activate the videoconferencing app and turn on your webcam, get appropriately dressed. Unless the virtual night out isn’t a pajama party, don’t show up in your pajamas. While you don’t have to dress to impress, put on the outfit you’d use if this were an actual, normal night on the town.
Choose the Booze Beforehand
Unless you and your virtual night-out companions have agreed to drink whatever liquor they fancy, choose a common cocktail or fancy spirit for your virtual outing. You and your friends can share cocktail recipes you’d like to try, then put it to a vote. Make sure to decide a day or two to allow for procuring the ingredients and concocting the cocktails. Don’t worry if your cocktail calls for champagne or you decide on champagne, as it’s possible to call a champagne delivery service.
Practice Videoconferencing Etiquette
When you are all online, always mute your microphone. It’s fine to have it on if you are with only two of your best mates, but when four or more are in the call, it can be chaos. You may not be privy to it, but any random sound made on your side can be a terribly loud crash or bang or even a sharp noise of microphone feedback.
Be mindful of your background, and don’t display anything unpleasant such as dirty dishes, stacks of empty take-out boxes or empty beer bottles. Try having an attractive piece of art such as a painting or a potted plant as your backdrop. You can also use amusing or visually striking virtual backgrounds to add fun to your side of the call.
Have an Agenda
Your virtual night out doesn’t have to be only about talking and guzzling booze. Keeping a conversation going if you’re the host can be challenging. Your virtual night out can end up awkward and boring once you’ve run out of things to talk about. Have an agenda. Set a time for chatting, enjoying a meal or snack together, then follow it up with other activities. You can play card games, do charades, go on a scavenger hunt or have a Netflix watch party.
Know When to Call It Quits
A virtual night out can be more exhausting than a night out in real life, as it requires you to sit in front of the video cam, maintain eye contact, and keep talking. The fact that you see your own face the entire time can be a tad disorientating as well.
Feel free to have a sticky note handy to cover your own face on the screen if it starts to be a bother. Avoid making the virtual night out an all-nighter. Usually, a session that lasts for one to one and a half hours makes for an ideal time frame for this sort of thing. The general rule for the duration is that the more people in the call, the shorter it should be.
A virtual night out can be as enjoyable as an actual night on the town with your best mates. The trick is to have a list of activities, food, and drinks prepared so that there are no moments of dead silence. The hardest part may be to politely excuse yourself or end the call, as you really have no trouble getting home and have nowhere else to be.