Nights out with friends are on pause, but nights in are having a moment. Thanks to technology, you can still hang out and have a virtual happy hour in your NEMA home with friends.

Decide on a Chat Platform. Pick the video chat platform that's easiest for everyone. There are several options including Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook, House Party and Skype. Choose whichever platform your friends are most familiar with or like the best.

Make the Guest List. Virtual happy hour can work with any group of people you would normally have drinks with, from co-workers to good friends and even family members. But keep it small. It’s harder to manage a conversation with too many virtual voices.

Set the Time and Duration. Limiting your happy hour to an hour, at least the first time you do it, will keep friends engaged and eager to come back for another one. Keep it short and sweet, then make plans to do it again.

Choose a Theme. Every party is more fun with a theme and the act of getting ready grants a sense of normalcy. You can host a Pajama Party, Spa Day with face masks and wine, Halloween celebration with costumes, or simply ask everyone to dress like they normally would for a night out.

Settle on Drinks. To get into the happy hour spirit at home, send out a simple cocktail recipe before virtual happy hour so friends can gather supplies and drink in sync if they choose to. Don’t feel like crafting your own cocktail? Get your Cocktails to Go from a local spot.

Set the Mood. Wherever you hold your happy hour, make sure the lighting is bright enough so others can see you. Get the conversation started by asking all friends to share something new that has happened or something that they were grateful for. Be a good listener and let everyone participate.

You can expand your evening from happy hour to a party next time!

Netflix Night. Decide on a flick and kick back for a movie night. Netflix Party synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to your favorite Netflix shows.

Game Night. Choose a game that requires minimal parts to play — something like Say Anything, Charades, Pictionary, Cards Against Humanity, or Hedbanz.

Paint & Sip. Gather some art supplies and do an art project while you video chat with your friends. You can all attempt to make the same thing or you can each work on individual projects while you converse. Add in a bottle of wine and let the good times roll!

NEMA Fit Night. Join your NEMA neighbors for an online workout with NEMA Fitness. Head to NEMA Fitness on YouTube for your favorite NEMA instructors -- right at home!

Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

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