Keeping connected with your friends isn’t always easy. Even if you all live nearby, it can be difficult to make plans to spend time together – and finding the free time to do that in is often even more challenging. Fortunately, today’s technology makes it so much easier to check in, chat, and stay connected to your friends.

Thanks to video conferencing and video calling, we’re now able to stay in touch with people around the world. So, if you’re looking for a way to “hang out” with your friends without leaving your home, you’re in luck. You can spend time together, have fun, and even enjoy some of your favorite group activities, all without getting out of the house.

Here are a few ways you can combine technology and your friends for socialization without leaving home.

1. Host a Virtual Hangout

If you and your friends enjoy getting together to catch up and hang out, a video conference call is the perfect way to stay connected. All you need is a time, a video conferencing app, and an internet connection.

You can use online platforms like Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom to set up a virtual hangout. You can add as many people as you’d like to your video call – just check the limits or requirements for the specific platform you plan to use. Once the call “opens” at the time you’ve selected, you can all log on and start hanging out.

Virtual hangouts can help you and your friends keep a sense of community even when you’re unable to get together. You can all share what you’ve been up to, what’s happening in your careers and personal lives, and even vent to one another. It’s the next best thing to getting together for a group gathering at someone’s home.

Another perk of virtual hangouts? If you’d like, you can make standing plans. You and your friends can log on and hang out over video any time, and you can even use these virtual hangouts as alternatives to in-person meetings, like book clubs, fantasy football groups, and watch parties for your favorite shows.

2. Set Up a Video Call Happy Hour

If you and your friends love hitting local restaurants and bars for happy hour, it’s difficult to recreate that same kind of social outing from your home. But it doesn’t have to be impossible.

In the same way that you can use video calls and video conferencing to set up time to hang out, you can set up an at-home happy hour. You and your friends can pick a time, pour your favorite drink, and log onto a video call via software and apps like Zoom or Skype. As you indulge, you can all talk, laugh, and share – it’ll just be done virtually rather than in person.

You can also pair fun happy hour events with a video call happy hour. For example, you could all decide to try a certain cocktail, wine, or beer. You could mix cocktails together over video, following a shared recipe or having one person take the lead and teach everyone else how to make their favorite drink. It’s a great way to get conversations started, and you’ll be able to see and hear one another as if you’re all in the same room.

3. Host a Formal Video Call Dinner Party

One of the most common social interactions we have is dining together. Whether you run into a friend while grabbing coffee or have a standing daily lunch date with your coworkers, taking the time to eat together is something we can really take for granted.

And if you’re stuck at home, you’re likely craving these kinds of interactions. Fortunately, with a video conferencing app, you can recreate them. An easy way to socialize when you’re staying in? Host a dinner party over a video call.

To set up a formal dinner party via video call, treat it like a regular, in-person dinner party. Pick a time and send out invitations via the video service you’d like to use. When you’re ready to start the video call, you can place your laptop, tablet, or smartphone right on your dining table. That way, you and your guests can all see each other – and your awesome dinner spreads.

You can invite all of your friends to your virtual dinner party, or you can dine over video calls with just a few friends at a time. Once you’re all online, you can talk, eat, and make great memories together, just like you would at a regular dinner party or night out.

4. Schedule a Watch Party for Movies or TV Shows

If you and your friends have a shared TV show you always watch together, or if you enjoy getting together for movie nights, you can keep the tradition alive from your separate homes. Thanks to streaming services, it’s now incredibly easy to watch your favorite shows, series, and movies together – and you can even watch in real time, chatting with friends while watching.

You just need the Netflix Party extension for Google Chrome. This free browser extension is easy to download, and it allows you to host a “Netflix party” for you and your friends while you’re on the Netflix website. Once you’ve installed Netflix Party, you can create a party in Netflix, add and invite friends, and watch absolutely anything together.

When you create a party, you and your friends are able to watch the same shows and movies separately, but together. While the series or movie plays, you and your friends can chat right on your screen. It’s a great (and quiet) way to share jokes, reactions, and more even when you can’t get together in person.

5. Play a Multiplayer Game Online

Want to encourage more interaction – and a little competition – among your friends? Try hosting a virtual game night.

With so many games available online today, it’s now easier than ever to log on and start playing absolutely any kind of game with people from anywhere in the world. But you don’t have to stick to video games alone. You can play your favorite board games, as well as other multiplayer games, online.

All you need to do is set up a video call via Facetime, Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts and pick your game of choice. Here are a few of the games you’ll find if you search online for multiplayer games:

  • Psych!, a game in which you’ll lie to try to convince your friends that you’re telling the truth.
  • Scrabble Go, an online version of the old wordsmith board game Scrabble that welcomes four players at a time.
  • UNO, a virtual version of the classic card game that includes surprise twists that’ll really inspire competition.
  • 8 Ball Pool, an online version of pool that offer one-on-one and tournament-style playing.

These online games, as well as many others, are available in Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

Getting together with friends when you don’t want to leave home might seem tough. But with the help of today’s innovative technology, there are more ways than ever to stay connected and have fun. Just because you aren’t getting together in person doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your favorite ways to enjoy each other’s company – you can hang out virtually, from absolutely anywhere.