Five tips for hosting an unforgettable virtual dinner party

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After three months of lockdown, you’d be forgiven for getting a little sick of making digital small talk and putting your brain to the test during weekly pub quizzes on Zoom. If this is the case, you’re likely looking for new ways to socialise, so why not liven up your calendar by organising a virtual dinner party? This lets you catch up with friends, sharing a meal and a few beverages, with a touch more class than your usual group hang, making the occasion a little more special. Here are a few essential tips on how to host a virtual dinner party.

  • Send a virtual invite

The guests you invite can make or break your virtual dinner party and, as with any group event, you will need to be thoughtful if you’re bringing together people who don’t already know each other. It could be awkward if some of them don’t get along at all. Consider the different personalities of your possible guests, but do keep in mind that you can take advantage of the virtual element of the occasion — it doesn’t matter how far away people live! This could be a great excuse to reconnect with an old friend who lives in another city, or even abroad.

However, try not to invite too many guests. Going a little overboard with the numbers will not only naturally cause people to feel left out of the conversation, especially since there’s no way to have a side-chat with just one other person, but an overstuffed guestlist might also cause technical issues.

  • Choose food and drinks

If it were a real-life dinner party, everyone would be eating the same food, so it could be nice to ask everyone to cook the same dish for the occasion, so choose an easy-to-follow recipe that can be easily adapted for those with dietary requirements. Eating the same meal together will help you feel more connected, and it could be funny to see who the best and worst cooks of the group are. If you don’t fancy cooking, you can always support local restaurants by ordering delivery.

No dinner party is without alcohol, and you can order wine and other beverages online from independent stores, or include a few extra bottles in your weekly shop. You could suggest to your guests, if they’re all wine lovers, to buy a different bottle of wine each to have a mini tasting session. Making your own drinks is an option, and there’s no better way to start proceedings than with a cocktail. We personally recommend the quarantini.

  • Think about dress code

Since dressing up to go to your favourite restaurant isn’t an option right now, but , that doesn’t mean you can’t take the time to make an effort for your virtual dinner party. Encouraging everyone to look the part can help bring you all closer together, even though you aren’t all technically in the same room, and as the host, you can take responsibility for setting the dress code.

Besides, with all the money you’ve likely saved on eating out, you could treat yourself to some fancy new clothes that will be perfect additions to your post-lockdown wardrobe too. While the option is always there for a fun fancy dress theme, why not order some new designer formalwear, such as a men’s shirt from Hackett or a women’s dress from Madeleine.

  • Familiarise yourself with the platform

You’ll be using a platform like Zoom, Google Hangouts or even Facetime for your virtual dinner party, so knowing how it works is essential in order for the party to run smoothly. Make sure your guests know which app you’ll be using in advance, giving them enough time to download and get used to the technology. Each app has its pros and cons so do your research before settling on which one to use for your virtual dinner party. For example, while Zoom is good for large meetings, and offers a screen-share feature, it only lets you stay on one call for 40 minutes before you have to set up again.

  • Plan party games

While enjoying a meal and flowing conversation with your friends is lovely enough, games and activities can really jazz up your dinner party. And fortunately, it’s still possible to do this despite everyone being in separate houses. The House Party app offers its own games and quiz sessions, or you can play classic board games like Scrabble and Monopoly online. Likewise, many companies have started offering a selection of online games for dinner parties, all of which are multi-player accessible, both online and through consoles.

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