How to Host a Virtual Dinner Party

Just because we can’t meet friends for dinner in person, doesn’t mean we still can’t still get together for something to eat – thanks to that miraculous little thing called the internet

Lead image: Prostock-Studio / iStock / Getty Images Plus

In these times of self-isolation, we’re all missing our social lives. Those weekly catch ups with friends over dinner might be off the menu for a while, but why not try organising a virtual dinner party?

It only takes a bit of planning, but bringing a group dynamic back to your socialising is something that you can look forward to and take your mind off being stuck in doors.

These digital get-togethers can be just as fun wild as IRL ones; you just need to figure out a few things like the tech and the menu.

Here are our top tips to create the perfect virtual dinner party:

1 Organise your guest list
Guests can make or break any dinner party, and it’s no different with a virtual gathering. So scroll through your WhatsApp chats and see which friends you want to invite. Four or five is the ideal number; the banter will run freely without anybody feeling left out of the conversation. Too many guests mean people will be talking over each other, and with the odd inevitable blip or delay while live streaming, that’s really not want you want.

 

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2 Choose the right platform
There are so many options out there, so choose which one is the best fit for everyone. That could be Skype, Facetime, Zoom or Houseparty. Make sure your guests have ample time to download the app and get reacquainted with it before the dinner party. One app that is proving popular at the moment is Houseparty. It allows multiple video chats as well as several games that you can play during calls including Heads Up, Trivia and Quick Draw. That’s your dinner entertainment taken care of.

 

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3 Plan the menu
This is one the most important parts of the dinner party – the food and drink. If you’re all eating from the same menu, it amplifies that sense of unity. You and your guests need to set the tone for what you want. Do you want something laid back? If so, you could all order a pizza from your local take-away and debate the validity of pineapple as a topping. Or you could try everyone cooking the same dish from the same recipe and laugh at the results. A simple pasta dish would be a winner for something like this. Alcohol plays a big part, obviously, so why not see if you can all buy the same bottle of wine, especially if your local independent wine shop is delivering. Enjoy a mini wine tasting, or share tips on creating cracking cocktails with cupboard staples.

 

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4 Implement a dress code
Optional, but fun. If you’ve been living in the same jumper and ‘comfy pants’ for the last four days, dressing up could be just what you all need to lift the spirits. Go all out and send out a black tie dress code, or keep it lively with a 70s, pop icons, flower festival or beach party theme. No need to order in a fancy costume from Amazon – although we’re thankful that’s still an option – just get creative with whatever’s lurking your cupboards. You probably won’t want to be using up valuable loo roll for the ol’ classic Egyptian mummy costume though…

 

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5 Practice makes perfect
Things will probably get off to a bumpy start. Somebody will have trouble with their cam/mic, somebody will burn the pasta, somebody will be live streaming from their kitchen because they haven’t finished cooking, somebody will have hit the wine prematurely, somebody’s connection will drop out… but all these things will just add to the experience. Plus, the more you host a virtual dinner party, the better you’ll get at it, adding new elements as you go along. By the time we’re all out of quarantine, the virtual dinner party will have become a life skill that you can use when you’re stuck at home with the kids, feeling a bit under the weather or to connect with friends across the world.

 

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6 Have fun
Yes, the world is a bit scary and rubbish at the moment, but nothing lifts the mood better than some good food and a get together with your friends. Catch up on all the latest work gossip, check in on everyone, make sure they’re coping with the changes going on. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the doom and gloom of the current situation, but a couple of hours messing about on the internet with your friends works wonders for the soul.

 

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