Dinner parties are a great way to get a group of friends together. But that’s not a good idea at the moment as we’re keeping a safe social distance from one another in the face of COVID-19.

And, quite frankly, depending on your culinary expertise,  dinner parties can be a lot of work. They can also become one-meal wonders with everyone sticking to their tried and true dishes. Rosemary chicken, anyone?

One way to keep the dinner party tradition going without too much strain on the host and while social-distancing is to turn the dinner party into a virtual cooking party.

Instead of the host doing all the shopping, prep work and cooking, have the group come together via a video conferencing or video chat service or app. Set up your smartphone or tablet so that the camera captures you each chopping, dicing, sautéing and baking your respective meals in your own homes. Preparing a meal is much more fun with company and lively conversation. Then you can all sit down to enjoy the meal “together” – online.

An alternative to the potluck dinner, a cooking party provides the opportunity to share your culinary know-how, learn some new tricks, and work together as a group. You get to choose how simple or complicated the recipes are, what type of foods you want to experiment with, and have some leftovers.

You can even change up these monthly gatherings with different themes. For example, dinner and a movie night, a wine and food pairing, or around the world where you include dishes from different countries. The possibilities are endless. And this can all be done virtually from the comforts of your own homes!

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