One of the things I miss most during this period of social distancing is the ability to go to my favorite restaurants with my friends. Though not having the option to go out has saved me a lot of money, I think back to when I used to get dressed up and meet with my group to eat at our special places. And while I may not be able to do this IRL for a while, I can still have a Zoom dinner with all of my closest friends.
While social distancing guidelines may change how you live your day-to-day, interacting with others is still possible if you're willing to embrace a few changes. Sure, you might not be able to go to your favorite restaurants, but with a little imagination, you can bring your favorite restaurants to you — and your friends can do the same. The most important aspects of going to dinner with your friends are good food and great company, and you can achieve both of these inside the comfort of your own home. All it takes is a delicious recipe and getting all of your friends to agree on a time to schedule a Zoom call.
If you really want to give your Zoom dinner the whole "going out to a restaurant" vibe, get dressed up and encourage your friends to do the same. It may feel a little silly at first, but it can make the event feel more special. Plus, you and your friends all dressed up via a Zoom screenshot could make for a cute Instagram picture later.
Once you've all decided on a time and outfit for your Zoom dinner, set the mood by using one of Zoom's virtual backgrounds to make it look like you're really out at a restaurant. If Olive Garden was your restaurant of choice, for example, find a picture of the restaurant online and use it as a backdrop for your virtual dinner. After you save the photo to your desktop, go into the Settings tab at the top of your Zoom screen and click Virtual Backgrounds. Upload the Olive Garden picture here and voilà.
As soon as you've got all the details of your dinner sorted, it's time to focus on the food. Of course, you and your friends could always just eat whatever dinner you individually prepared for yourself. But it might be more fun to agree on a cuisine and prepare similar foods. Whether you want to have a taco night, pasta night, or cook up your favorite Indian or Chinese dishes, your Zoom dinner will be more exciting if it really feels like you and your friends are all eating at "the same restaurant." That way, you can all compare recipes and cooking experiences too. Some great websites for recipes include Epicurious, AllRecipes, The Food Network, Betty Crocker, and Eating Well.
It's easy during this time to fall into a routine where you're not really interacting with other people, but don't forget to make the time to schedule plans with friends in whichever ways you can. Plus who knows, you might enjoy hosting Zoom dinners so much that it becomes a tradition for you long after social distancing is a thing of the past.