Friends can still get together during a pandemic, just online (Image via Alistair Berg/Getty Images) Getting more social, at hom.e
Friends can still get together during a pandemic, just online (Image via Alistair Berg/Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic has made dinner out with friends, or a coffee shop date, potentially dangerous. Here are some ideas to have more fun while at home.

Let’s face it, current times are not ideal. Isolation, self-distancing, and canceled plans are the order of the day while we all wait for this “unprecedented age” to pass. 

Had this pandemic happened 10 or 20 years ago, we’d be at the mercy of “snail mail” and slow dial-up connections. But now we have the power of the internet and, with all of us stuck at home, even more more educational, informative, and fun ideas have popped up. 


We curated a list of some things, many with North Carolina ties, to give you a few fresh entertainment and socialization alternatives until we can get back out into the world.

Virtual Brunch

This is a no-fuss way to gather with your favorite people and share a conversation over a good meal. Turn it into a regular tradition, like a weekly Sunday breakfast, or as a way to celebrate a special occasion. If you’ve got a fairly good-sized group, take turns hosting according to a recipe, dress code, or theme. Even better yet, pair it with a communal activity like a crossword puzzle, movie or TV show, or mixing a few mimosas together.

Game Parties or Trivia Nights

Engage your inner child with a few hours of good old-fashioned play. Many bars and pubs that previously hosted in-person events are now bringing them into your home.

 In the Raleigh area, Triangle Game Night has a variety of packages, which start at $200, for private gaming parties with a dedicated host. Over at Raleigh’s NC Museum of LIfe and Science, guests can partake in Virtual Trivia Tuesdays hosted by the museum. (Bonus, this one is free.) 

Cooking Classes 

We’re spending a lot of time in our kitchens these days, so why not “spice” things up with a guided online cooking class? Put aside your takeout menus and microwavable burritos and let a professional chef guide you through a meal. In Chapel Hill, Chef Sheri Castle is putting on Zoom Cook Alongs for groups as well as private one-on-ones. Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen in Charlotte still offers their previously-recorded classes, which range from paella to dumplings to one-pan dishes, for $15 each.

Buy Nothing Project 

Give your Facebook newsfeed a much-deserved break from political memes and kitten videos and start decluttering (or picking up some needed items). Started in 2013, these online community groups encourage their users to “buy nothing, give freely, and share the bounty.” Every group is designated to a particular neighborhood, so you’ll be communicating directly with local neighbors. It’s free to sign up, and no money is involved in any transaction. You can post items you’re interested in giving away or search for what others have to give. “Porch pickups” allow for a convenient and COVID-friendly way to exchange goods. Visit www.buynothingproject.org to learn more about the movement, locate a local group, or start a new one. 

Art Classes

When all else fails, turn to a creative outlet as a refuge. At the North Carolina Museum of Art, their new NCMA from Home program offers a curated collection of lectures, recommended reading, “slow art,” and even free, downloadable Zoom backgrounds. Several of the workshops are free but require registration. 

The newly renovated Asheville Art Museum has similar opportunities, both free and fee-based, that allows guests to browse the museum virtually or play interactive games and activities. If dancing is your preference, consider joining in on a weekly dance-along with the world-renowned New York City Rockettes

For mixed media art of all kinds, Sketchbook Skool is a goldmine of art instruction and holds free, hour-long Draw With Me classes.

Field Trips

Travel back in time to your school days with virtual field trips at places like The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro or any of the North Carolina Aquariums. At the zoo, you’ll have access to adorable, real-time animal videos, educational lessons and Q&A sessions with zoo staff. Through the Virtual Visits at any of the aquariums, log on to listen to guest speakers or go behind-the-scenes to see how they work. Their extensive calendar of events include a few fee-based events focused on sea turtle conservation, special animal cameos, and even mermaid adventures.