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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

20 Ways to Stay Connect and Play Online With Friends and Loved Ones

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We all miss the days when getting together with friends or family was as easy as meeting up on the playground equipment at the local park. Today, it takes a bit more work and thought to stay connected with the people we love whom we don't share a house with. Luckily, there is a wealth of online tools to help keep us connected.

1. Watch Movies Together

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I've loved going to the movies with my favorite people since I was just a small child. Luckily, there are now a couple of different ways to watch movies with your friends and chat about the experience as you watch (something that's not allowed at your local multiplex). A Netflix Chrome extension allows Netflix subscribers to watch together, while WatchTogether also offers synchronized watching and private chat rooms.

2. Have a Dress-Up Video Chat Date

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The kindergartners in my acquaintance now have busy video conferencing schedules! One way to make weekly chats fun is to come up with themes! Try dressing up in your finest clothes, or even try something like "'70s Roller Disco" for laughs.

3. Sing Karaoke Online

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Apps like Smule allow you to have all the fun of singing with your friends from the safety of your living room. Never tried karaoke before? What better time to try?

4. Enjoy a Scavenger Hunt

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Do a scavenger hunt together but apart. Make it a race. Choose things like "something small and blue" and "something soft and fuzzy" and take photos. An app like ActionBound might help. Also, check out neighborhood social media sites. Some areas are doing things like putting teddy bears in windows or hanging crystals off of mailboxes.

5. Play Words With Friends Together

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Ten years ago, everyone I knew loved Words with Friends. Reload the app and reach out to your friends, it's still one of the best apps for having online fun with your real-life crew.

6. Create a Minecraft Server

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Minecraft has educational aspects but also is a great way to build community. Build your own virtual world to escape to.

7. Play Cards Against Humanity

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Cards Against Humanity is one of my go-to's for entertaining. The online version lets you hear your friends' inappropriate thoughts even when you are away from each other.

8. Join an Online Book Club

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If you already are a part of a book club, move it to video chat. Otherwise, reach out to your local indie bookstore! You'll make new friends and support a local business all at once.

9. Solve a Mystery Together Playing Clue

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Love board game nights? Try getting together a group to figure out just what Miss Scarlett was doing in the library.

10. Use Houseparty to Host an Online Dinner Party

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Miss dinner parties? Set your table, and start a video conference. You'll get dinner time conversation, and maybe even pick up some ideas for new dinner recipes.

11. Don't Miss Out on Your Weekly Card Game

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Many card games are available online, including UNO. These games allow you to play card games online with your real-life friends.

12. Enjoy Trivia Night

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Trivia Night needn't be skipped just because you aren't going out. Each week, let one person on the video conference be the trivia master and everyone else be the participants.

13. Use Screen Share to Take a Group Trip

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Many museums and historic sites are offering free tours online. Find one that will interest your group, and set up a screen share so that your crew can enjoy the experience together.

14. Mail Craft Kits to Your Kids Friends

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Make up age-appropriate craft kits and mail them your kids' best friends. Then schedule a video call where the kids can work on the craft kits together!

15. Set Up Group Text Chains

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Texting makes it easy to stay in touch, but some days it feels like my phone never stops buzzing! Streamline texts by setting up group chats with friends and family groups. That way, everyone sees important news but you don't have to text everyone individually.

16. Virtual Outdoor Playdates

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Video conferencing doesn't have to stay indoors! Setup the tablet and let your kids play with their friends from afar. Noticing your yard isn't the playland you'd like it to be? Contact local outdoor play equipment companies and stores.

17. Schedule Regular Check-ins

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It's easy to get overwhelmed and withdraw from the people you enjoy most. Schedule regular check-ins via text, phone, or video chat so you also have something you look forward to on your schedule.

18. Engage in Group Projects, Separately

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One of my favorite days in quarantine? My college best friend and I set up a video conference and chatted while we worked on some DIY projects (I painted my kitchen while she refinished a dresser). It gave each of us the impetus to knock something off our to-do list while we had fun chatting.

19. Plan a Fun Outing For Later

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One day we will leave our homes again, right? So plan a fun outing for later. It might be as simple as a group dinner at the local Mexican restaurant or as involved as a multi-family international trip. The trip will give everyone something to chat about and look forward to!

20. Do the Same Activity and then Compare Notes

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Have you been meaning to watch some binge-worthy show you missed, or learn how to bake sourdough bread or take up a new craft? Reach out to your loved ones and see if anyone else is interested. Work on the project separately, and then share your progress and thoughts during video chats.

Find more about the author:Kim Hart

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