Many activities can be adapted to video conferencing with only a few alterations. Most are free, and others are offered at a varying range of price points.
There are many video conferencing options to choose from. What you choose really depends on your needs. All of these have free options, and some have paid upgrades. Try out a few and see which feels intuitive to you!
To find out if you are running the latest versions of Zoom or Teams and learn about some of their best features, check out our blogs:
General Video Conferencing Features
While there are limitations to connecting virtually, vs. in-person, there are many features in video conferencing platforms that can help enhance your experience.
- Virtual backgrounds: Participants can meet up anywhere, on a sandy beach, in your favorite book, or outer space! Most platforms come pre-loaded with options, but you can typically upload your own images for a personal touch.
- Screen sharing: Participants can show their screens in the meeting, allowing people to follow along with the same visual and audio materials or collaborate on a project together.
- Annotate: Participants can annotate on a shared screen, so everyone can impact the final look of the materials the group is working on. You can even save your work as an image!
- Whiteboard: Participants can use their annotation tools to share a blank canvas of their very own. (Also, totally savable)
- Break out rooms: Participants can break out into smaller groups, away from the whole group, a great tool for plotting any mid-game strategies.
- Polls: Participants can participate in quick and easy polls to engage and provide feedback during the meeting.
- Recurring Meetings: Your meetings can be recurring, allowing you to use the same meeting link over and over again and provide consistency to the group.
Video Conferencing Social Activities
Book club –Just like a typical book club, everyone reads the book, but rather than meeting at a shared space, you all meet in a virtual meeting to discuss. Be sure to bring your favorite drink and get cozy while you chat.
Cooking club – Take turns planning meals and creating a shopping list – each participant shops on their own. Everyone then joins the meeting from their own kitchen to cook along with one another. The best part? Everyone gets to share the same meal together!
- Alt Tip! Meal Subscriptions – Participants can join the same meal kit service (Hello Fresh, Home Chef or Blue Apron) to have all the planning done for them.
- Alt Tip! Competitive Cooking – Take turns being hosts who coordinate grocery delivery of mystery ingredients to participants who must then prep, cook, and plate dishes in the meeting. Participants then pitch their dishes to the group, who judge appearance, technique, and creativity.
Baking club – Much like a cooking club, people can take turns planning a baking activity and organizing the shopping list. Participants obtain the ingredients and all join in the kitchen to bake together. If people aren’t seasoned bakers, but still wish to participate, there are kits with prebaked items and decorating options that provide the joy of baking, without all of that pesky baking stuff. You can also see if a bakery in your area sells freshly made items to decorate.
YouTube watch party – Gathering around and watching silly videos is a tried-and-true casual pastime. You can still do this with your loved ones, just sign into a meeting and everyone round robin’s sharing their screens of their current favorite viral videos.
Art classes – Participants can grab their sketchbooks, brushes, or clay and make beautiful works of art together. You can either sign up for online classes (Drawing and Sketching for Beginners or Ctrl+Paint) or simply visit the Bob Ross Channel to follow along with one of the USA’s greatest artistic minds.
Makeup club – Participants gather their makeup and nail polishes and can apply their products on camera and bond over sharing application tips or follow tutorials together. Makeup artists in the making can get exciting reinforcement from more experienced makeup wearers.
Sports club –Watch live events or classic games using video synching tools like the Teleparty extension. Grab your jerseys and tailgating snacks and root for your favorite team together.
Game club – Tabletop Simulator and Steam offer a multitude of gaming options. If learning these new platforms seems daunting, there are apps for specific virtual multi-player games (Skribbl.io, Codenames, 7 Wonders or Catan). Some physical games are also easily adapted to virtual gameplay like charades, bingo, Pictionary or trivia.
Craft club – Organizers can create lists of materials or select a ready-made kit. People can join the meeting, craft together, and share tips. You can even share your completed creations with one another.
Light activity chat room – For people looking for calming companionship, participants can each pick a light activity (drawing, coloring, crosswords, sudoku, solitaire, etc). People can ask for input from the group on their activity and simply chat with one another.
Shared scribble board – Share a virtual whiteboard so people can play tic-tac-toe, hangman, or simply draw and build on each other’s art! This is a fun option for being creative with kids and can even find success with older teenagers who may have a difficult time remaining engaged with other age groups.
Scavenger Hunts – People can take turns being the person who comes up with a household object that the participants must then go find. First to bring it back wins a point!
- Alt Tip! Hidden pictures – If you do an image search for “Hidden Pictures” you will have a limitless supply of drawings with objects hidden in them. Using the annotate function, everyone participating can choose their color of pencil to circle their found objects. Whoever finds the most, wins!
Wine and beer tastings– Participants work together to create a list of drinks, they then purchase and gather online to drink while sharing tasting notes. Many local breweries and wineries are offering virtual tastings, look online to see if there are any near you!
Virtual trips/entertainment – People can pick a location for every meetup where loved ones can explore new places or rediscover old hangouts together.
- Google Street View can enable people to share the streets they grew up on or places of meaning they have visited, allowing others to follow along virtually.
- Alt Tip! Virtual Disney Trip – Google Street View allows you to walk around United States-based Disney parks, which pretty much guarantees a fun time.
- If perusing art is your group’s idea of a good time, artsandculture.google.com provides virtual tours of museums around the world.
- Allarts.org provides film and stage performances of dance, music, and
theater for those who enjoy the live event experience.
- Those with a love of the great outdoors can get their nature fix at nationalparks.org and nps.gov, who are providing virtual tours of national parks.
- Various zoos offer live camera feeds of their residents, including: