If you live with roommates or family members, call yourself lucky to have a built-in social network during these times of social distancing — and in that case, you can play pretty much any drinking card game. But if you’re living alone, you may be feeling an urgent need to connect with friends and family, and to have some fun, while in-person visits are on hold.
Fortunately, staying entertained and connected while at home isn’t as difficult as it may seem. And there are many ways to connect in a meaningful way, beyond FaceTime chats. Here are seven virtual happy hour ideas, plus specific recommendations for each, to try while you’re socially distancing.
And, while you’re at it, check out VinePair’s free Zoom backgrounds to add some pizzaz to your next digital drinking date or conference call.
Classic Drinking Games to Play Online
Start, of course, with a drink in hand — for more see tips on how to have a virtual happy hour here. Sign onto Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts/Meets, or your preferred video calling app with a small group of friends. Then, try playing one of the classic drinking games below.
Never Have I Ever
Never Have I Ever is an easy game to start with. The rules: Each person starts with five fingers held up (your other hand should be free to hold your drink). Taking turns, each person says something they have never done. Those who have done that thing have to put a finger down and take a drink.
Helpful tip: Have a moderator or host call on each person to take their turn, since not everyone appears in the same order on the grid on different video apps.
Some Never Have I Ever statement suggestions to start you off: Never have I ever lived through a pandemic (everyone drinks). Never have I ever bought an entire case of La Croix. Never have I ever argued with someone in the grocery store over toilet paper.
A Power Hour is another easy way to gather friends near and far while socially distanced. All you need is to find a previously prepared playlist of one-minute songs (try YouTube), or prepare a playlist that one person will play and monitor over the hour, changing songs every 60 seconds. How to play: Take a drink every minute. It’s that simple.
As one Twitter user told us last week, “My friends and I did a virtual power hour last Friday, round 2 this weekend.” How did he do it? “One person in charge, dozen people from around the country synchronized over Slack.”
To get some face time into the mix, organize the game as a video call so you can see each other and chat in between — see if you can keep up!
As Alyson Shontell, editor in chief of Business Insider, tweeted last week, “Virtual beer pong is possible, you just need four phones and FaceTime.” Each couple sets up two phones, one facing them and one facing the set of cups they’ll be shooting at on the opponents’ side. A little advanced, sure, but for those desperate enough to put in the effort, why not?
Possible roadblock: You’ll need to have at least 12 cups and ping pong balls on hand, which seems unlikely in an apocalypse. But maybe you’ve stocked up.
This weekend I did my first virtual hangouts and saw friends we rarely get to see for happy hours. I can also confirm that virtual beer pong is possible, you just need 4 phones and facetime – one on each couple, one on each set of cups. pic.twitter.com/Uhpz8cVP6l
— Alyson Shontell (@ajs) March 23, 2020
Virtual Trivia & Puzzle Games
People around the internet have been touting the Jackbox Party Pack, launched in 2014, as “the perfect excuse for rounding up friends, family and fellow gamers for a few hours of gaming delight.” This delightfully old millennial and generation X-era product’s resurgence is perfect for bringing trivia, drawing, and word games like You Don’t Know Jack (a trivia game like Jeopardy), Drawful (a drawing game like Pictionary), and Word Spud (a fill-in-the-blank word game like Mad Libs) into a virtual happy hour.
Although designed as “local multiplayer” games (as in, playing in the same room), they can be played virtually with remote players via a streaming service. The party pack costs a one-time fee of $24.99 for most platforms (Playstation 3, XBOX One, Nintendo Switch, Apple TV and iPad, and Amazon Fire TV), and at press time, $12.49 for a Steam Code or PlayStation 4.
Detailed directions for how to play Jackbox games remotely are available here.
If game platforms and signup fees seem like too much effort, consider using Zoom or your preferred video platform to play Charades, Pictionary, Trivia, Bingo, or Code Names. The virtual world is your oyster!
Video Game Drinking Games
Online Multiplayer Games
If you have a game system or even a really strong laptop, you might be surprised by how many video games can be turned into drinking games you can play with friends. Popular titles like Overwatch, Fortnite, and even Wii Sports have many drinking game iterations floating around the internet. All you have to do is start up Zoom, agree on your preferred game and rules, and you’re good to go.
VinePair’s director of marketing and resident low-key gamer, Jeff Licciardello, recently riffed on a Super Smash Bros. drinking game for a socially distanced version with two friends.
“While playing online with each other, we had Zoom up in front of us. We [VinePair] have a drinking game article on Super Smash Bros. on our site, so using those rules, I played with one friend on FaceTime and my roommate joined me on the couch for the drinking portion of the game. In terms of people, it’s up to you how many people you can wrangle. But basically … whenever you die you drink, when you’re waiting to fall off the platform after re-spawning, you drink, etc.”
Ideally, players will be fighting each other, but in a pinch (a.k.a. if you can’t get the private room to work), setting up Zoom in front of each player “at least provides a sense of camaraderie as you stream each other fighting random people on the internet while drinking wine,” Jeff says. “And my roommate, who doesn’t play video games but was stuck dealing with me hogging the TV, picked one of the opponents I was fighting and drank for them.”
Another pearl of Jeff’s drinking-while-gaming wisdom: “For the ultimate Mario Kart drinking game that doesn’t require a whole lot of thinking, simply drink every time you are hit by an item (shells, banana peels, lightning bolts, etc.) or every time you fall off the course.”
Online 1-2 Player Games
Although video game drinking games can be created for almost any game, try picking one you and your friends are playing right now (Animal Crossing: New Horizons, anyone?). You can set up FaceTime or Zoom on your phone, tablet, or laptop to see and hear each other while playing. And all you have to do is come up with five to 10 “rules” that will require taking a sip of your drink while playing.
To stay with the Animal Crossing example, players might take a drink every time you find a bug, donate to the museum, or acquire a new item for your house. Then, you can add a little more complexity to the rules: For finding your first bug, take three sips; for each subsequent bug, take one sip if it’s a bug you already have, three sips if it’s a new bug, and four sips for donating to the museum (it will make sense once you get going.).
This can also apply to social interactions in the game. When you receive a gift, take one sip; when you give a gift, take two sips; when you meet a new in-game friend like Bill (the duck) or Reneigh (the horse) or that crazy squirrel chick, Caroline (a personal favorite), take three sips; and when you visit an IRL friend’s island, finish your drink.
Have a Watch Party
Playing drinking games while watching movies or series is a popular choice, and an easy one to replicate in the virtual world. In March, Google Chrome launched an extension for Netflix Party, a new feature that synchronizes video playback, allowing you to stream and watch movies and shows simultaneously. It also adds a group chat so you can message each other throughout.
Choose a theme to make the experience easily repeatable. Oscar movies or zombie flicks, for example, are readily available. For groups of friends whose anxieties are assuaged by horror, now is a wonderful time to marathon appropriately themed works depicting hyperbolized disaster and trauma.
Try a topical double-feature of “Pandemic” and “Parasite”; a home invasion pairing like “The Strangers,” parts one and two; or a triple-feature of “Cube” or “Purge.” Or, make it a week-long marathon and stream every episode of the nation’s new Netflix obsession, “Tiger King” — it’s a seven-parter!
You can turn any watch party into a drinking game. For example, as VinePair’s Licciardello suggests for one of our staff’s favorite series, “Schitt’s Creek,” everyone has to drink any time Alexis says, “Ew, David!” If you’re not in virtual earshot, you can also use the group chat to direct when it’s time to drink. Along with text, the chatroom supports screenshots, emojis, and GIFs.
Another angle might be (and we’re biased here) taking turns choosing content about wine, beer, and spirits — such as the just-released “Uncorked,” which VinePair contributor Julia Coney describes as breaking new ground for black wine drinkers.
Have a Dance Party
Let off some steam and pent-up energy by hosting a virtual dance party. You can do this in any video conferencing app, or use a platform like Houseparty.
As in real life, a dance party can take many forms. Perhaps it’s a dance-off between you and one very energetic friend. For a group together, invite friends you used to go out dancing with every weekend, and recreate a playlist you would have been sloppily sipping and dancing to at a club or bar.
Crack some glow sticks (if you’re the type of person who has stocked for a dance-party emergency), sip on some easy-to-make cocktails, and dance like no one’s watching. Because chances are, even if your neighbors can see you, you likely won’t encounter them in person for a very long time.