4 Creative Ideas For When Your Zoom Hangouts Start to Feel Stale

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I’m on the 60-some-odd day of socially distancing, and let’s just say, the novelty has worn off. On days 1-14, I was signing into daily yoga classes, had three Zoom calls a week with a group of best friends, and was cooking up all the recipes Bon Appetit could churn out. Now, it’s a win if I make it through the work day without taking a nap or crying. But, given it doesn’t end like we’ll be fully in the clear anytime soon, this isn’t the right time to despair. It’s time to get creative. Here are a few ideas I have for spicing up your Zoom calls (since, ya know, we can only have so many virtual conversations with so many friend groups about the same topic), and I’d be so grateful if you’d share yours in the comments.

1. Show and Tell Club 

A few years ago, a friend and I were feeling like we lacked a creative outlet and like our hangouts with friends were feeling a bit stagnant. We talked about all the times during the week we listened to a podcast, or read an article that we desperately wanted to chat with a friend about, only to completely forget it by the time Friday happy hour rolled around. We set up a once monthly “show and tell club,” where each member brings one of these gems they can’t wait to share and discuss. We’ve watched snippets of documentaries, problem-solved work issues, read poetry, tasted sake, and tie-dyed. We also made a conscious decision at the beginning to not invite our best friends into the club—members could only extend invitations to acquaintances or friends so we could attempt to keep the show and tell vibe going, instead of it devolving into old banter among old friends. Of course, over the years, we’ve become old friends, and spend half of our meetings catching up on life, but these friendships are rooted in curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness, which is something I so cherish, especially during these days that seem devoid of much of that. While we’ve always met in person, we’re hosting our first virtual show and tell club next week, and I can’t wait to see what everyone’s been reading/watching/listening to/thinking about in quarantine.

2. Host Your Own Trivia Night 

Since quarantine began, every Saturday my fiance and I have tuned into trivia with a group of friends who are mostly based in the U.K. Whichever couple wins has to create the following week’s trivia, and they have been so thoughtful, creative, and fun. Rather than grabbing questions online or playing House Party trivia (which is also fun and far less work!), there have been personalized rounds with photos, clues based on inside jokes, and rounds catered to the group’s travel, work, and eating habits. Each week, I’m worried trivia will lose its fun, and each week, a new couple steps up and delivers an action-packed, personalized game for the rest of us to play. 

3. Come With a Conversation Prompt

I honestly cannot hear one more prediction of when someone thinks they’ll head back into their office or when we are daring to hope to hop on an airplane again. These conversations exhaust me, even when they’re with the people I love most in the world. Instead of hopping on the call unprepared—as we normally would, but which, in these times, often lead to COVID convos—consider conversation prompts to encourage deeper conversations that might actually bring you closer to your people. We’re Not Really Strangers has amazing prompts (you can check out their Instagram as they share some of the ideas from their card game) and I’ve completed the New York Times’ 36 questions that lead to love with both romantic partners and groups of friends.

4. Learn Something New Together

Whether you all pick a tricky recipe and attempt to make it at the same time, or rotate who teaches based on the expertise of the group, committing to join a call and do it together is likely to up your chances of learning something new. (If left to our own devices, like me, you’ve been saying you’ll learn calligraphy for the last 10 weeks without ever picking up a pen.) 

Have you had a particularly fun Zoom call recently? I’d love to hear your ideas!

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