Every Saturday since social distancing started here in Illinois, my friends and I meet for an afternoon happy hour online. Some live a few blocks away, some in other cities. It’s great to connect, and it reminded us that we could have done this anytime. We don’t need a catastrophe to enjoy hanging out, even distantly.
Social distancing has, for millions of people, closed their physical world down to a handful of rooms. But what’s amazing—inspiring, beautiful, and deeply human—is that it’s opened us up to more possibilities for connection. We remember the need to see faces. We reach out through screens.
If you’re wondering how to socialize during Coronavirus, consider long-distance games. You can play games through screens or apps, face-to-face or not. We can still laugh, play, and even exchange gifts. We might be separated for now, but we can still be together.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve known someone forever; you can always learn new things about them. That’s why ice-breaker games are so fun. They challenge players to come up with answers to questions about themselves, from the profound to the sublimely goofy.
I especially love icebreaker games as a way to socialize over Zoom. If you have a big gathering, the conversation can be both overwhelming and weirdly stilted. Having a game to play gives your time some focus and encourages people to open up. You can also play office icebreaker games if you want to get coworkers loosened up a bit.
And while they can—and should—promote raucous peels of laughter, they also help you learn more about someone. That’s the truest way to strengthen any bond.
My wife and her friends play a game every week called Drawful, which is sort of a Pictionary-type thing combined with Cards Against Humanity. To say they have a lot of fun is an understatement. I can hear the laughter from the other side of the apartment.
There are a lot of games where you only have to download an app or sign up on a website. The aforementioned Cards Against Humanity has set up a way specifically to play while social distancing. You can also find apps that let you play classic card games like Go or Euchre.
Really, every board game is figuring out ways to facilitate people playing while social distancing. If you have a game you and your friends or family liked to play, look it up. Chances are there are guidelines or apps that you can use to keep playing.
Games Without Apps
But you don’t need apps to play games. There are a lot of alternatives, such as:
- Pictionary using your video chat’s “whiteboard” feature (not every platform has this, but plenty do)
- Charades using the video feature (use a free random word generator online to pick your words)
- Role-playing games (there are apps for these, but you don’t need them)
- Trivia (teams can set up their own chat rooms to talk it out)
Really, the only limit is your imagination.
Secret Santa Gift Exchanges
We’re extremely grateful that packages can still be delivered (I know I’ve been doing what I can to keep a local bookstore in business). Because of that, you can still send people gifts. And that’s actually perfect for this current moment.
You can easily have a gift exchange while social distancing. All you need is a free Secret Santa generator. Put in the names and email addresses of friends who are playing, and the generator will assign everyone their own Secret Santa.
From there, everyone playing can start a wish list. The best part about this is that you can shop online from nearly every retailer and compile it all into one list. And you don’t have to shop stores directly; you can browse gift guides to narrow down your search. This is especially helpful if you’re having a themed gift exchange.
Your Secret Santa can then buy directly from the list with just a click and have the package sent to you. On the day of the exchange, everyone opens their present on a video conferencing platform and tries to guess who their Secret Santa is. It’s as good as being in the same room.
What I truly love about this is that it offers happy surprises and the joy of receiving. It’ll make everyone feel part of something collective. It makes us feel together.
How to Socialize During Coronavirus: Be Present
Why do I love gift exchanges? Because they help you really think about another person. These games aren’t about the presents, but about presence. About being there. About the opposite of distancing.
That’s what all these games are for. They remind us that we need and love each other. They remind us that even though times are uncertain, we have the certainty of community. Being there for each other— with laughter and joy, with love and tears, with presence, and, yes, presents—is how we can continue to thrive.
Stay safe, stay strong, and stay connected.
If you want to have a gift exchange as a way to socialize during Coronavirus, use a Secret Santa generator with universal access. Elfster makes it easy to pair people up, shop for gifts, and start a Wish List. Plus, you can access it all from an iPhone app or Android app.