Connecting Despite Restrictions

Connecting Despite Restrictions edit


Though many of our friends and family have been vaccinated, we aren’t out of the testy COVID waters just yet. There are still restrictions that can make life frustrating and difficult—you’re not alone in feeling this way. We must think outside the box to stay connected until this is over.


Here are some hybrid and virtual ways to have fun with family and friends:


Get Outside

This is always a solid option. Now that many of us are vaccinated, it’s even easier to feel safe and secure outside. From walking to hiking to spending time on a socially-distanced beach, the outdoor world is waiting for you to explore it once again.

Of course, there are many fun events that you can plan in your own backyard! It’s all about taking the extra step or precaution to ensure your guests’ safety.

Try setting up a fire pit that you and your pals can gather around and toast marshmallows over. It’s an intimate setting that allows you to catch up while remaining socially distant. If you want everyone to feel comfortable, make sure there is a bathroom accessible from your backyard with a hand sanitizer pump at the ready. You can abandon the bathroom for three to four days and ensure any traces of potential COVID contamination have dissipated. Still wearing masks can make everyone feel more comfortable as well—especially if not everyone has been vaccinated.

Buying a projector is also a sound investment. I have one, and it brought me immeasurable joy during the summer months last year. Find a white wall on the side of your house or hang up a bedsheet and project movies and videos from an elevated surface. Take your outdoor theatre to the next level: string party lights, lanterns, or install an elaborate sound system. Rent a popcorn machine and get crowned best backyard theatre in the neighborhood! It will feel like you’re in a movie theatre! Don’t forget the bug spray and external speaker.


Host Virtual Events

Everyone knows virtual events aren’t ideal but they allow us to connect with others and experience activities that we would otherwise not be allowed to do with current restrictions. Through the miracle of technology, you can virtually attend birthday parties, wine tastings, Bat and Bar Mitzvahs, conferences, movie premieres, and even weddings. These events showcase incredible resilience and creativity. Nobody’s first choice is a virtual party, but the organizers still want to celebrate and connect with you in innovative ways, and we're so lucky to have this technology to help us still be together in some way.

I’m planning on having a virtual tea party with my friends in the near future. I want everyone to dress up in ridiculous old-timey outfits and act like a snob for an hour. This challenges your participants to come up with the silliest costumes and personalities for the event. You can create a version of this for your kids and treat it like a themed party! Variations of these virtual parties are game night, Who-Dunnit murder mysteries, and many more!

Book clubs are another historically in-person activity that translate well to virtual meetups. It’s been a lot of fun participating in book clubs from home—it allows you to check in with a large group of people while all having something to discuss and/or yell about. With the COVID shutdowns, many fear (myself included) of having nothing interesting to say in social situations. Discussing books takes the awkwardness out of interaction. You don’t have to focus on real life at all in these meetings if you so choose.

To our creatives out there, join a writing group! Because we have a lot more free time on our hands, people have been focusing on creative writing and other hobbies. Virtual meetings make it easy to participate in serious literary critique with people from all over the world. Take advantage of getting workshopped remotely, especially since you don’t have to pay for childcare or an expensive plane ticket.

For those conducting business, try out virtual networking events. Though it’s not as convenient as face-to-face introductions, use LinkedIn as a tool to unlock new paths for yourself. Even a quick call with someone in the position you’re striving for could inspire you to seek out a role that you didn’t know existed.

Check out these amazing applications that make virtual gatherings possible: Discord, Google Meet, Zoom.


Get Competitive

If you aren’t comfortable meeting up in person and you aren’t one for virtual meetups either, you can stay up-to-date with friends by hosting competitions. Whether this manifests as Fantasy Football or workout challenges is up to you and your friends. As you watch the other people in your group raise their scores, you’ll feel compelled to fight back and beat ‘em out of the gold prize. Consider buying an MVP trophy as a team and gifting it to the winner.

Life has been difficult with COVID, but there’s no reason to self-isolate anymore. Human beings are social creatures. Your friends miss you even if they aren’t reminding you every day! There are so many tools and activities at your disposal based on your comfort level. If your circle of friends is vaccinated, try out in-person gatherings that are mindful of safety regulations. If you still have high-risk friends or family members, stick to the virtual events.

Reach out to others, stay connected, and most importantly, have fun!

-Natalie Ciardi


Photo Credit: Photo by Jessica Yap on UnSplash. 

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