We may still be social distancing, but that doesn’t mean we have to be socially distant! There are so many ways to keep having fun with the important people in your life, all from the comfort and safety of home. Here are our top 5 ways to sign up, log on, and tune in with those who matter most, from afar.

1. The Netflix Party app

Want to binge-watch the hottest new releases with your favorite fellow audience? This free app is an extension for your browser that allows multiple people to synchronize video playback of any Netflix show/movie and chat about it in real-time. To get this rolling, you will need to be utilizing Google Chrome on a desktop/laptop computer. Click the ‘Get Netflix Party for Free’ button on the Netflix Party website, which will forward you to the Google Chrome Extension store. Here, you can add the extension to your browser. Once added, a small icon with the letter ‘NP’ will appear in the upper right-hand corner of your browser, beside the URL bar. Once you navigate to Netflix and make your selection, this icon will turn red. Click the icon, click ‘Start the Party’, and follow the prompts to share the URL it provides with your friends to have them enter the stream. A chat window will also appear to the right of the screen where you can chat with other participants in real-time.


2. Use Instagram’s new ‘Co- Watching’ feature

Tired of sending your favorite memes back and forth through group chat? Using this newly added feature to Instagram’s interface, you can share a single screen that enables viewing of saved posts, liked posts, and news feed content to view with up to 6 people. This can be a great way to experience content together in real-time, and be in the moment with your fellow ‘grammers. To access this feature, first, start a group chat with participants, and select the ‘video call’ option at the top right of the window. Once your friends are connected to the call, a ‘media’ button will appear at the bottom right of the screen. Once selected, you can navigate through the content options and all participants will view the feed while in their own video chat bubble.


3. Take an online class together

With more and more companies capitalizing on online content, there has never been a better time to learn something new! While we can’t quite go out to the local ‘wine and paint night’ classes that we used to enjoy, there are a host of other options online that you can tune into with friends and family. Depending on where you find your tutorial, you can use a co-watching app like Twoseven or Watch2Gether to open a ‘watch room’ and sync videos. Use these apps with the in-app video chatting capabilities, or while connected to one of the many video chatting software platforms we know and love. Feeling crafty? Or like cooking up a storm? There are so many options for free/affordable classes!


4. Start a book (or movie… or podcast!) club

Scheduling a meeting with a tight-knit group to discuss a shared topic can be a nice break from regular video chats and boardgames. Gather some like-minded folks and choose your format. Don’t feel confined to the traditional book club, with so much streaming content out there – you have options! From podcast series, movies, and binge-worthy shows… having some scheduled, structured conversation with people who have experienced the same content can prevent the all-too-common “…have you seen this…? Or this…?” conversation loop. When it comes to books, check out this list of 30 books to read while distancing and consider using the Bookclubz app about to help you schedule and organize your next club. Bonus: if you are feeling adventurous, you can join their existing clubs online! And finally, if hard copies of books are your style, this great article in Avenue Calgary outlines the many great bookstores in our city still doing curbside pickup and delivery.


5. Start a remote fitness group

Gathering a small group of workout buddies for a remote exercise session is a great way to keep each other accountable to your fitness goals, and stay on schedule. Log in on your video chatting platform of choice (Skype, Facetime, or Zoom just to name a few) and get your heart rate pumping. For guided videos, set up on a co-watching app (described in point three), and consider setting a weekly challenge. Add a fitbit to the mix for some additional layers of competition, or try out some apps that allow you to compare your jogging routes through GPS, meal plans, and calories burned.