Socially Distanced Activities for the Winter

With COVID-19 cases climbing across the United States and other countries, it is certainly clear that fun social distancing ideas are here to stay. During the winter season, with less sunlight and the dreary cold, it is even more important than ever to remember to stay connected.

Summer, with its warmer temperatures, offered more options for socially distant ideas and activities. Hunkering down to beat both the pandemic and the winter blues may offer a bit more of a challenge. But! Nearly nine months into the global pandemic, it’s even more critical than before that we stay connected to stave off loneliness, burnout, and depression. Here are ten different ways to help you stay connected during those long winter months! Some are virtual social event ideas, while others are fun social distancing ideas for in person alternatives. Mix it up, and you’ll have plenty to keep you company over the next few months. 

1. Virtual Trivia Nights 

Just because we can’t go to the pub and compete in our weekly or monthly trivia games doesn’t mean that we have to stop exercising our brains! Maybe your favorite trivia master is no longer hosting games. You can take matters into your own hands and offer a virtual trivia night with your friends and coworkers!

The internet offers endless options for creating trivia: build your own with something like Kahoot or Quiz Witz or make use of a game like Jackbox. Regardless, the evening will be fun! Step it up a notch and send out pub kits to participants, with prepackaged snacks like nuts or chips! If all else fails, create your own Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune version and make like Alex Trebek or Pat Sajak. 

2. Virtual Happy Hours

At this point, virtual happy hours are the standard. How many of y’all have been to a virtual happy hour since COVID started? I’ve lost count of how many I’ve been invited to. One of my friends actually calls them Quaranteams. 

Are you bored of the regular happy hours? Turn them into themed virtual happy hours: pick a movie, a book, a color, a time period, and have everyone fix drinks that fit into the theme. Or, do a wine tasting or beer tasting virtual happy hour and rate the drinks, then compare notes! 

3. Virtual Arts and Crafts Nights 

Arts and crafts can make for a really fun virtual social event. Ideas about what types of art or craft to make can provide weeks of conversation leading up to the event. Maybe each person brings their own craft to make. Or, if you have an especially crafty group of friends, you can each send kits to each other, and then each month, there’s a different group craft to make. If you want to get fancy, turn it into a couples date night, with a paint and sip kit from someone on Etsy or another maker. You’ll connect AND have something beautiful to remember the night. 

4. Heated Patios

The appeal to heated patios is that you’re outside. We all know that COVID-19 has higher incidence rates in areas that are unventilated. With the winter cold, houses and buildings that could open windows over the summer, need to keep them closed. Investing in an outdoor heater for your patio or deck could be just the fix to helping slow the spread. Just make sure that the heater radiates the heat so that you can still have six feet distance between yourself and your friends 

5. Drive-Ins

With the onset of COVID-19, drive-ins have quickly become a feature of our present, rather than a reminder of the 50s and 60s. If you’re really itching to get out of your house, consider making plans with friends to go to a drive-in. 

Sure, you’ll want to stay in your cars and only speak through open windows, but at least you’ll be able to see their faces in person. There are lots of fun social distancing ideas when it comes to outdoors, but this is definitely one of my favorites. 

6. Winter Camping/Cabins

Maybe you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous during the winter. If so, head to a cabin in the woods (ideally with a wood stove), and folks from your quarantine pod. Taking time to enjoy the outdoors, and make some hot cocoa might be exactly what you need to fill up your inner reserves. For a weekend or a week, you can forget that COVID-19 is still ravaging the world. Winter camping also is ideal if you love to hike and build fires. Some of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen have involved ice 

7. Watch a movie together while on Zoom / FaceTime 

While there are many online tools that allow you to watch a movie as a group, my favorite go to is the standby of FaceTime or Zoom. I love it because I can pull that up on my device, and then watch the movie from my television. When we all do that, it’s almost like we’re hanging out together in person because we can still chat and hear comments. The trickiest part is synching up the sound, but I’ve become a pro at it. 

8. Virtual Baking 

A couple years ago, my family decided to do our holiday cookie baking over Zoom. We picked a day where everyone was free, and then all made 8-12 dozen cookies while video chatting. It was tons of fun to visit with everyone, plus there was a yummy treat for afterwards. If you’re a fan of The British Bakeoff, consider a challenge for everyone— cinnamon buns, or the perfect chocolate chip cookie— as your focus! 

9. Virtual Charades 

A Google search will return many different results that describe variations of how to play charades. Whether you do classic charades with “sounds like” and “short word” symbols, or you do a version that’s more akin to the names in a bowl written on a piece of paper, this fun virtual activity has the potential to leave you all gasping with laughter. 

10. Scavenger Hunt: Home Edition 

Lastly, if you’re looking to get some movement into your socially distanced (and virtual) event, consider a scavenger hunt at your homes. Think of the wackiest items that may or may not live around your house. Remember the days when there was a toilet paper shortage, anyone? This can be a good way to get folks thinking creatively about their surroundings, as well. 

As you’re planning your fun socially distanced event, remember that you can mix and match any of the ideas above, especially the virtual ones. Host a happy hour AND virtual charades. Do some virtual baking or cooking and then watch a movie together. With so many combinations, something’s bound to be fun and just perfect for your group. Most importantly, stay connected and make it as playful as possible. 

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