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20 Ideas for Zoom Calls BESIDES Talking about Coronavirus

Greetings from my basement. We’re in week seven of lockdown and I’m noticing a pattern. I get so lonely I want to die, we set up a Zoom call with friends to hang out, I look forward to it all day, and then we spend the evening freaking out together about coronavirus, homeschooling, and how much longer we’ll have to live like this.

Last week I told my friends before our Zoom that I am so tired of only talking about quarantine. We could totally talk about it as much as we want, but let’s ALSO do something that’s not related to our desperate times.

I had everyone show up with something for Show and Tell, just like our kids are doing on their class Zoom calls. And it was awesome. We spent a whole hour going around sharing, and then we segued to coronavirus and spent the last hour talking about that. But that first hour of Show and Tell magic was delightful. One of my friends had started a gratitude list that she hung on the wall and her kids added to, one talked about some yummy dinners she’d been cooking, and I shared about binge-watching Iliza Shlesinger’s new sketch comedy show on Netflix, which is GOLD.

After the success of this Zoom call, I started brainstorming other ideas for hangouts and thought maybe we could all use them. So here you go.

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20 Ideas for Zoom Calls BESIDES Talking about Coronavirus:

1. Bring something for show and tell. It could be a recipe you tried, a coloring page you did, a closet you cleaned out, a project you worked on, a song you currently love, a book you’re reading, a chocolate bar that’s your new BFF. It’s not about bragging about what we’ve accomplished (I am barely functional), but about having something else to talk about. So come with one thing to share.

2. Everyone share one funny meme that made them laugh. The meme action has kept me laughing every day, and I love when people share funny ones I haven’t seen yet.

3. Play “Never Have I Ever.” Remember this game? Take turns saying “never have I ever____,” and for everyone who has done that, take a drink, do ten pushups, whatever you want the consequence to be.

4. Rate the Chrisses in order of hotness – Evans, Hemsworth, Pine, Pratt (I have them here alphabetically so as not to influence you). Spend time debating this fiercely. How do you compare Pine’s eyes to Hemsworth’s general torso area? I don’t know. Assign points. Declare a winner.

(All those other Chrisses are second rate. Farley forever.)

5. Do your nails. Pretend like you’re at the salon together. Give yourself a mani/pedi and gab about whatever you’d talk about at the salon, pre-pandemic.

6. Share funny things your kids did. I’m keeping a list on my phone of things that make me laugh, because it’s easy right now for me to forget how to laugh. So every time one of my kids makes me laugh, I try to really savor it and jot it down.

7. Name that tune. Hum a song or play a snippet and everyone has to guess what it is.

8. Take turns giving YouTube-style makeup tutorials, preferably funny ones like this one.

9. Give a tour of your garden. The other day I took my phone outside to show off my irises.

10. Play “Would You Rather….” Would you rather go to the beach or the mountains? Would you rather clean up dog poop or change a diaper?

11. Play “Kiss, Kill, or Marry.” Pick three celebrities, and everyone has to assign them one of these categories. Do not pick people you know. This is a bad idea. You’ve been warned.

12. Do sheet masks together, and definitely screen shot that pic. Last week I did a sheet mask WHILE doing Show and Tell. Everything is a dumpster fire so you might as well moisturize your face. I’ve decided I want to treat these Zooms like I’m at a sleepover with my friends. If I could figure out how to freeze someone’s bra remotely, I would.

13. Cook something together. Pick a recipe and gather ingredients ahead of time, and everyone cook like you’re taking a class together. Sample the food, talk about wine pairings, or if that’s too complicated, everyone just make what you want and tell each other what you’re cooking.

14. Talk about favorites. What’s your favorite song, favorite food, favorite trip you’ve ever taken?

15. Book club. Pick a book, or an ARTICLE (not on the pandemic!), whatever you can handle, everybody read it ahead of time, and then get together and discuss. Maybe book club normally doesn’t fit into your schedule, but for this season, you could do it just this once. You’re not committing to a book club forever and always. You’re just agreeing to this one small book because WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO (besides homeschool your kids, try to work from home, provide 50 meals a day, wash your hands 187 times, and look for toilet paper and beans like the hunter gatherers of yore)?

16. Everyone make a top ten list to share. You could pick a theme, or just do “top ten things I want you to know about me.” Fun facts, weird stuff, whatever.

17. Ask each other questions like the ones on this list of 60 questions to ask friends.

18. Work out together. (Ew. I don’t like this one either.) Do some squats and lunges, sit ups, sun salutations, whatever. Download a workout routine online and grab some friends to do it with you over Zoom. Then you should probably treat yourselves to ice cream after. I will say, doing something active every day has helped me with the homicidal rage that tends to creep up.

19. Dance party. Take turns blasting music and everyone dances. It’s weird. It’s fun. It makes me really miss going out in person. But I also can’t help but smile.

20. Make something. Play LEGO, do a coloring sheet, work a puzzle, or knit. Keep your hands busy and take turns talking about what you’re working on.

Okay, so there you go. Pick one or two of these, or come up with your own. Do them first, THEN you can bitch about coronavirus together. Because we all need to do that, absolutely. If you’ve lost a job, watched a dream disintegrate before your eyes, or see your bank account dwindling, if you’re on the front lines battling this virus, putting yourself at risk in an essential job, or spend all day trying to keep your family from imploding, it’s heavy. Everything feels harder and scarier and the not knowing how long it’ll last makes it feel like we’re on this gerbil wheel of doom. So by all means process this with your friends and family. But if, like me, you need a break sometimes, I hope this list puts a smile on your face for a little while.

Love you. We’ll get through.

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