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How to keep in touch without touching

It’s important to stay positive throughout the COVID-19 outbreak and one great way to do that is to spend time with your friends and family using video apps.

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We're no longer able to meet face to face due to the country-wide lockdown but the internet and video calling apps mean that we're still able to hangout with each other.

Take advantage of video apps

Video apps are a fantastic way to stay connected with your loved ones while stuck at home. It's really nice to see their faces after spending so much time indoors!

Some of the most popular include:

  • Skype
  • Facetime (only available on Apple devices)
  • Google Hangout
  • Zoom
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Whatsapp (limited to four people at a time)

These are free to download and available on the iOS store, Google Play store and your desktop. Some of them will require you to sign up but that too is free.

Below you'll find a variety of fun activities that you can enjoy virtually with your friends and family - the next best thing when you can't get together in person.

Create a virtual pub

Pick a time, pour yourself your favourite tipple and get together with everyone from the comfort of your sofa.

If you're looking for something extra to do, make sure you keep an eye on social media. Many pubs are posting content to help keep us entertained like videos showing you how to make different delicious cocktails or even live streaming quizzes.

Take inspiration and hold your own mixology class where you pick a cocktail recipe and teach your friends how to make it or a tasting session where you all order the same kind of wine or beer and review its taste together.

Do a pub quiz

There are plenty of quizzes of varying difficulty available online if you feel like testing your friends and family or you can always write your own.

You can theme your quiz around literally anything, history, Star Wars or even reality TV shows, and get really creative with the different rounds. Some ideas for rounds include naming film taglines, identifying the lyrics to a song and putting events in the order that they happened in.

If you make it a regular thing, don't forget to keep note of everyone's scores! The winner each time could receive a small prize like a film rental on Amazon or have a bottle of wine sent to their house.

Start a virtual book club

Many of us have been meaning to use this time in lockdown to get back into reading and starting a book club is an excellent way to begin. You'll get to share your experiences, broaden your literary horizons and might even discover your new favourite new author!

Everyone takes it in turns to pick something, which you all then read and later discuss over video call, with a cuppa, some snacks or even a cheeky glass of wine. You could stick to picking books you enjoy or go for a particular theme like your favourite childhood book or a classic you never read.

Your club doesn't just have to revolve around books. You can easily hold a film, podcast or album club too if you like.

Host a virtual Come Dine with Me

Enjoy a modified, virtual version of the long-running Channel 4 series by having one person select a recipe which you then all have to make. If you really wanted a challenge, this could include a starter, main course and dessert!

You could either score each other based on the recipe or the finished product taking into account things like how easy it was to make and if you'd ever cook it again.

You could also theme the nights like the contestants do on the show and wear fancy dress or get the person who chose the recipe to decide on some entertainment like a short quiz, charades or karaoke.

Take part in a virtual Ready Steady Cook

Add some chaos to your video calls by recreating the classic series Ready Steady Cook at home. Participants should line up a mix of ten ingredients from their cupboards (while on the video call to avoid any cheating!), close their eyes and then pick five at random.

Give everyone a set cooking time and then get back on the call after to present your dishes to the group one-by-one. Alternatively, stay on the video call during the cooking process to show off your culinary skills!

Score each other based on categories like innovation, presentation and the complexity of the dish with the winner again potentially being awarded a small prize.

Work out together

Exercise is a fantastic mood-booster and there's plenty of resources available online to help you stay fit and healthy during lockdown.

One way to stay motivated is to pick a specific time and all do a workout together. There's a huge array of fitness videos available on YouTube which you don't need any equipment to complete and are bound to get your blood pumping.

If you're a member of a gym it's also worth checking their website to see if they're live streaming any classes you can all attend.

Have a lunch or dinner date

Something as simple as video chatting with a friend while you eat together can really help you beat the loneliness that lockdown and social distancing can bring.

If you're working from home, be sure to call up your colleagues and have a virtual lunch together like you would at the office. Being able to physically see them will really help you feel connected much more so than just emailing them or talking over messaging services like Slack.

Play a game

Don't let social distancing ruin your game nights. On the iOS and Google Play stores you'll find classic favourites like Monopoly, Ludo, Uno, Words With Friends and Draw Something which all offer online multiplayer.

Both of these app stores have their best-selling and most downloaded game charts so keep an eye on them for other good online multiplayer games. Recent entries include Psych which sees you having to guess the fake trivia, and Evil Apples that's a lot like the always great Cards Against Humanity.

There's plenty of interesting in-browser games too like the Pictionary alternative Skribbl which allow you to stay chatting on your video call while you play.

Start a group blog

If you feel like you've already binge watched everything Netflix has to offer, blogging is a great alternative activity. Websites like Medium and Wordpress are free and easy to use so pick a subject everybody's interested and update it whenever you're feeling inspired.

You'll get to flex your creative muscles and although the lockdown means that you might not be able to do whatever is you're blogging about, this way you'll still be able to share the experience of it with your group.

A lot of the popular blogging sites have very active, large communities so you might even end up making some new friends through it.

Start a group newsletter

It's always nice to read something positive and getting small updates on what your family and friends have been enjoying is a good way to stay feeling connected.

Keep your newsletter simple with some bullet point lists and maybe a few words describing something that made you smile, what you've been watching/reading or listening to lately or anything tasty you've cooked.

Newsletters can be great for families too. Grandparents would love getting an email from the kids telling them what they've been learning about and playing.

Download TikTok

TikTok is a very popular app which sees users post short videos. It has set categories like Sports, Gaming, Animals and Travel but a video can really be about anything you like which often leads to hilarious, brilliant bizarre results.

Making a TikTok to send to your group is a guaranteed way to get everybody smiling. There are always different trends and challenges going around the app for users to get involved with or you can just get creative and think up your own.

Don't worry about being embarrassed, you can make your account private so only people that you accept as friends will be able to see it.

Don't forget to switch and save

You'll be spending more time online with our list of activities showing you how to keep in touch without touching, but that doesn't mean that you'll have to spend more on your energy bills.

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