11 Ways to Stay Connected While Social Distancing

gorodenkoff/iStock via Getty Images
gorodenkoff/iStock via Getty Images

If you have an internet connection, it’s easy to keep yourself entertained in quarantine. Having fun with loved ones while practicing social distancing is a little more complicated. It’s important to stay connected to friends and family now more than ever, and that doesn’t just mean calling them on the phone. You may not be able to go out with the people in your life right now, but with a little creativity, you can find new ways to socialize virtually from home.

1. Join a book club.

A book club is a great way to make a solitary activity into a social one. After picking one book to read with your group, schedule a video conference where you can virtually discuss it. Because there can’t be a single host, urge everyone to provide their own wine and personal cheese plates.

2. Host a Netflix Party.

Bing-watching Netflix is one behavior that hasn’t changed for many of us since quarantine started. With the browser extension Netflix Party, you can continue this habit in good company. Get your friends to install the plug-in, pick a movie or show to watch on Netflix, and enjoy a synchronized viewing experience. The movie will start at the same time for everyone, and pause at the same time if someone has to step away for any reason. 

3. Schedule a star-gazing night.

Netflix isn’t the only thing you can watch together with a friend in real time. If you’re miles apart from a loved one, make plans to step outside your homes and look up at the sky one night. You can point out planets and constellations together on a voice or video call. 

4. Cook the same recipe.

Senior couple making video call on phone in modern kitchen.
Share a virtual Sunday night dinner.
Jovanmandic/iStock via Getty Images

Many of us are spending more time than usual making food for ourselves at home. One way to keep cooking from getting tedious is to invite someone to cook along with you. Find a recipe online you both can make (a.k.a one that uses easy-to-find ingredients or items you already have in your pantries) and schedule a time to make it together. Even if you can’t host a dinner party right now, chatting and cooking with a loved one in your respective kitchens is a pretty good compromise. Don’t forget to compare your culinary masterpieces before digging in.

5. Sing bedroom karaoke.

Singing at your computer when you’re alone may feel weird, but to be fair, singing in front of strangers in a bar is also weird. Karaoke is the perfect way to burn off some pent-up stress and energy after being stuck inside all day (or month). Set up a video conference with your friends, look up the instrumental versions of your go-to karaoke tunes, and start passing around the virtual mic. By the time you hit the chorus, you’ll find that belting your lungs out in your empty bedroom is easier than you thought.

6. Put on a fashion show.

After working in your pajamas for weeks, you may find yourself actually missing the uncomfortable yet fabulous clothing items in your closet. Luckily, you don’t need to wait for a special occasion to wear them. Put on a virtual fashion show with your friends where you show off your fanciest, most impractical outfits in a video call. Use this as an opportunity to bust out the tuxedo you bought for that canceled April wedding, or the heels you own that you can’t stand in for more than 10 minutes. Copious screenshots are highly encouraged.

7. Sign up for a group yoga class.

Woman using laptop to take an online yoga class
Work out together, but separately.
Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images

Since yoga studios have had to shutter, many instructors have taken their practices online. Find a live video yoga class happening at a time that works for you and tell your friends to participate. It’s a good way to stay connected on days when you feel too emotionally drained for a virtual happy hour. If the class is free, don’t forget to make a donation to the instructor to thank them for their time.

8. Throw a painting party.

Real-life art classes may be canceled, but you can still get some friends together on video to exercise your creative muscles. Ask everyone to assemble their supplies (if they don’t have paints and a canvas, colored pencils, crayons, printer paper, or whatever they have at home works fine) and pick an artwork to recreate. It didn’t matter if there aren’t any Picassos in your friend group—half the fun is laughing over everyone’s attempts as you go.

9. Organize a game of charades.

Visual games that don’t require any special equipment are ideal for virtual game nights. Charades fits this bill perfectly. You don’t even need to split into teams or draw slips from a hat; just have everyone take turns acting out the movie (or book, TV show, etc.) of their choice while the rest of the party guesses. If you need ideas, there are plenty of tools online that generate suggestions of things to act out.

10. Play a board game.

Board games are a classic activity for when you’re stuck at home, and you don’t need a full house to play them. Many popular games—including Clue, Monopoly, and Catan—are available to play as apps. Assemble a virtual board game crew and agree on a game to download. Just make sure to only invite people you can trust to not cheat when they’re hiding behind a phone screen.

11. Start a Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

You don’t need to be an expert in high fantasy to enjoy Dungeons & Dragons. You don’t even need to own a 20-sided dice (there are plenty virtual dice rollers online). Part improv, part game of chance, D&D is for anyone who wants a creative outlet they can share with friends on a semi-regular basis. And because the game mostly consists of narrating what your character is doing, it’s perfect for a group video call. Dungeons & Dragons tools like rule books are now available digitally if you’re looking to get started at home.

7 Top-Rated Portable Air Conditioners You Can Buy Right Now

Black + Decker/Amazon
Black + Decker/Amazon

The warmest months of the year are just around the corner (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), and things are about to get hot. To make indoor life feel a little more bearable, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the top-rated portable air conditioners you can buy online right now.

1. SereneLife 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner; $290

SereneLife air conditioner on Amazon.
SereneLife/Amazon

This device—currently the best-selling portable air conditioner on Amazon—is multifunctional, cooling the air while also working as a dehumidifier. Reviewers on Amazon praised this model for how easy it is to set up, but cautioned that it's not meant for large spaces. According to the manufacturer, it's designed to cool down rooms up to 225 square feet, and the most positive reviews came from people using it in their bedroom.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Black + Decker 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner and Heater; $417

Black + Decker portable air conditioner
Black+Decker/Amazon

Black + Decker estimates that this combination portable air conditioner and heater can accommodate rooms up to 350 square feet, and it even comes with a convenient timer so you never have to worry about forgetting to turn it off before you leave the house. The setup is easy—the attached exhaust hose fits into most standard windows, and everything you need for installation is included. This model sits around four stars on Amazon, and it was also picked by Wirecutter as one of the best values on the market.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Mikikin Portable Air Conditioner Fan; $45

Desk air conditioner on Amazon
Mikikin/Amazon

This miniature portable conditioner, which is Amazon's top-selling new portable air conditioner release, is perfect to put on a desk or end table as you work or watch TV during those sweltering dog days. It's currently at a four-star rating on Amazon, and reviewers recommend filling the water tank with a combination of cool water and ice cubes for the best experience.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Juscool Portable Air Conditioner Fan; $56

Juscool portable air conditioner.
Juscool/Amazon

This tiny air conditioner fan, which touts a 4.6-star rating, is unique because it plugs in with a USB cable, so you can hook it up to a laptop or a wall outlet converter to try out any of its three fan speeds. This won't chill a living room, but it does fit on a nightstand or desk to help cool you down in stuffy rooms or makeshift home offices that weren't designed with summer in mind.

Buy it: Amazon

5. SHINCO 8000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner; $320

Shinco portable air conditioner
SHINCO/Amazon

This four-star-rated portable air conditioner is meant for rooms of up to 200 square feet, so think of it for a home office or bedroom. It has two fan speeds, and the included air filter can be rinsed out quickly underneath a faucet. There's also a remote control that lets you adjust the temperature from across the room. This is another one where you'll need a window nearby, but the installation kit and instructions are all included so you won't have to sweat too much over setting it up.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Honeywell MN Series Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier; $400

Honeywell air conditioner on Walmart.
Honeywell/Walmart

Like the other units on this list, Honeywell's portable air conditioner also acts as a dehumidifier or a standard fan when you just want some air to circulate. You can cool a 350-square-foot room with this four-star model, and there are four wheels at the bottom that make moving it from place to place even easier. This one is available on Amazon, too, but Walmart has the lowest price right now.

Buy it: Walmart

7. LG 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner; $699

LG Portable Air Conditioner.
LG/Home Depot

This one won't come cheap, but it packs the acclaim to back it up. It topped Wirecutter's list of best portable air conditioners and currently has a 4.5-star rating on Home Depot's website, with many of the reviews praising how quiet it is while it's running. It's one of the only models you'll find compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, and it can cool rooms up to 500 square feet. There's also the built-in timer, so you can program it to go on and off whenever you want.

Buy it: Home Depot

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Drop Everything! Netflix Just Dropped 15 Classic Episodes of Supermarket Sweep

Lifetime Television
Lifetime Television

In 1965, grocery shopping got a high-octane upgrade with the premiere of Supermarket Sweep on ABC. Now fans have a chance to relive the high stakes and questionable food safety of the game show. As Hypebeast reports, 15 episodes of Supermarket Sweep are available to stream on Netflix.

The show's appearance on Netflix follows news of a new reboot. Earlier in 2020, ABC, the show's original network, picked up a revamped version of Supermarket Sweep hosted and executive-produced by Saturday Night Live-alum Leslie Jones. A release date for the revival hasn't been announced.

The show has been rebooted several times, and the episodes currently streaming on Netflix date back to the 1990s. In every version of the show, contestants compete in a combination of trivia games and speed shopping challenges to take home a cash prize.

If you can't think of anything more entertaining than watching people in Dickies fight over expired produce, you can head to Netflix to start binge-watching all 15 episodes. For more behind-the-scenes secrets from the show's production, check out these facts about Supermarket Sweep.

[h/t Hypebeast]