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How To Throw A Virtual Dinner Party

How To Throw A Virtual Dinner Party

By Sarah Weinberg, Deputy Editor, Sarah Weinberg Is The Deputy Editor At Delish, Has Covered Food, Travel, Home, Lifestyle For A Number Of Publications, Including Food Network Magazine, Country Living.

If you've hung out with us before, you know that Delish is built on the idea that food is a means of connection. But recent directives to practice social distancing have made upholding that a little, well, difficult—but not impossible. Thankfully, it's 2020, and "social" no longer means "sitting next to you."

So, in the face of trying times, we're giving you permission to share your dinners, your happy hours, your birthday parties, and your graduations (even if the actual commencement ceremony has been called off). WiFi is the new long table; your phone is the new place setting. We're calling them Virtual Dinner Parties, where you entertain separately but together. These digital get togethers can be just as heartwarming, fun, and wild as IRL ones: You just figure out the tech, prep your place, pick the menu, and—this part's key—enjoy yourselves. We'll show you how.

Connect

There are tons of platforms that support video calls—these are our favorites.

Skype The platform can host up to 50 people and lets convos drag on for four hours at a time. (You know who you are...) MAKE A CALL

Zoom Zoom's basic plan is free but has a 40-minute meeting limit. Use it if you're just saying hi for a drink and a bite. MAKE A CALL FaceTime Working with just an iPhone or iPad? Prop it up and use good ol' FaceTime. You can rope in up to 32 devices. MAKE A CALL Google Hangouts On a hangout you can actually see 10 people at once, and you can access it from your phone or computer. MAKE A CALL

Decorate

If you're hoping to host a pajama party at your dining table-turned-work desk—or if after a day of managing work/kids/roommates, that's all you have the energy to do—be our guest. But if you want to pretend like you're somewhere fancy, we tapped entertaining pro Eddie Ross for some tips.

Use every room. When you're stuck inside all day, a change of scenery is everything. "Try to make the most of all these spaces you normally don’t," Eddie says. Have a meal on the floor in front of your fireplace or in the formal dining room that's typically reserved for holidays. Set your table. Turn your home into a quasi-restaurant. Eddie suggests: Pull out sentimental family heirlooms, put some flowering branches from the backyard into a vase, light those never-used candles, iron your cloth napkins, use salt and pepper cellars. Think outside the box. "A throw or duvet cover can have the same feel as a tablecloth—and you can just throw it in the wash after dinner," Eddie says. And if you don't even have a dining table, put some pretty trays on your coffee table and have a modern TV dinner. Treat yourself. Now is as good a time as ever to pop the cork on that expensive bottle of wine you've been saving. "Those special things will enhance day-to-day life," Eddie agrees. His favorite little luxury: "If you're still going to the store, don't pass on flowers."

Cook

Here's the plan: Easy-to-make, super adaptable recipes that don't involve too many ingredients or too much time. Choose your favorite and get cooking.

Appetizers

Best-Ever Guacamole Mash it by hand if you like chunky guac or toss everything in the food processor for something smoother. GET THE RECIPE Parm Cauliflower Bites These are baked instead of fried, which makes them a little lighter. Plus, the prep is so easy, your kids can help. GET THE RECIPE Farro Salad Think of this recipe as a template. Don't have pears? Use apples. Not a fan of pecans? Opt for walnuts. GET THE RECIPE Chickpea Salad This Mediterranean salad makes dinner feel special. The chickpeas make for a sturdy app that can be prepped ahead. GET THE RECIPE

Main Courses

Maple-Mustard Chicken Save time and cook chicken legs—atop a bed of hearty veggies—instead of the whole bird. GET THE RECIPE Garlic-Butter Salmon This super-popular dish can also be made with smaller fillets if you don't have a massive one on hand. GET THE RECIPE Beef Enchiladas Put the ground beef in your freezer to use in something besides another pot of chili. GET THE RECIPE Tuscan Tortellini Soup You can also make this soup vegetarian, just use veggie broth and plant-based sausage instead! GET THE RECIPE

Desserts

Chocolate Chip Cookies These chewy cookies won Delish's cookie challenge, and they'll quickly become your favorite, too. GET THE RECIPE Slow-Cooker Brownies Pour the batter in your slow cooker around lunchtime, and you'll have an ultra-gooey brownie ready by dinner. GET THE RECIPE Peanut Butter Apples Apples make this decadent dessert (which is stuffed with creamy peanut butter and Reese's Pieces) feel a little more healthful. GET THE RECIPE Oreo Truffles You only need five kitchen staples to pull these together. (Pro tip for the 21+ club: You can totally spike 'em.) GET THE RECIPE

PARTY

Millennials, this is your time to shine. You've been upholding relationships via devices your entire life. If communicating through a screen is new to you, though, we've got some thought starters and activities in mind (plus a couple from Eddie, too).

Choose an activity. "Have a virtual workshop with your friends that everyone can do in their own home," Eddie suggests. Some ideas: Learn how to make a cool cocktail, plant your favorite herbs, DIY a cookbook of all your favorite recipes.

Play games. You'll probably have to forego physical board games, but you can play a lot of classics online with friends, like Scrabble and Monopoly. Or download the Houseparty app, which has a filter to play Heads Up. Carry a conversation. You can still chat with friends and family the way you would in person. "Just don’t dwell on what's going on right now—that's a womp, womp dinner party," Eddie says. Make your convo about happy future happenings. Watch a movie. You can go old-school and try to press play at the exact same time or you can use the new Netflix Party. It synchronizes your video and has a group chat function for that one friend who always has something to say.

Are you hosting a virtual dinner party? Tag us on Instagram so we can see! (Psst: We're @delish, 👋)

Illustrations and Animation by Alexandra Folino

Sarah Weinberg Deputy Editor Sarah Weinberg is the deputy editor at Delish and has covered food, travel, home, and lifestyle for a number of publications, including Food Network Magazine and Country Living.

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