8 Ways To Still Hang Out With Friends While You’re Staying At Home


Shasha Dania •  Mar 27, 2020

Malaysia has just announced an extension of its Movement Control Order (MCO) until April 14, and a new wave of measures in Singapore have enforced greater social distancing in public too. These measures are meant to help curb the spread of Covid-19, but it can be tough to not be able to hang out with your friends or family right now!

Credit: Giphy

While we may logically know that staying home helps keep our loved ones safe, we may still feel the emotional stress of not being able to go out as casually as before. However, staying at home doesn't have to mean staying away from your loved ones! Thanks to digital technology, there are more ways than ever to set up virtual hang-outs and even online game sessions. ?

Though it may not be quite the same as seeing them in person, being able to hold face-to-face conversations and hear the other person's laugh can do so much for our own mental well-being too. Here are some ways to keep hanging out together even when you're stuck at home!

Note: As some of these methods may use 3rd-party streaming services or computer extensions, do ensure that your computer security is up to date and that you only use trusted and safe apps and services! You won’t want to deal with viruses or a slow computer right now ?

1. Binge-watch Netflix together over Netflix Party

Credit: Netflix Party

Years ago, watching a movie with your friends over your computers would have needed Rabbit or Google Hangouts. But now, in 2020, there's the convenient Netflix Party extension that's ready to go! ? This Chrome extension lets you sync the playback from the Netflix site itself, and there's even a chat bar at the side for quick comments. Anybody in the room will be able to pause the video to control playback for everyone else, so you won't need to ask your friends to recap what you missed.

You will need a Netflix account for this to work, although multiple people sharing the same account (with enough screens) can use it simultaneously. ? If not everyone has a Netflix account, streaming sites such as Kast (desktop and web versions), Scener (desktop, mobile, and TV versions), or twoseven (desktop version only) are still available! These services are usually more stable compared to a Google Hangout, which is great if someone in the group has a slower internet connection.

There are also apps such as Squad (download for iOS | Android) and Airtime (download for iOS | Android) that have screen-sharing capabilities for Youtube and other video sites. Now you can binge-watch everything from Kingdom 2 to Money Heist together. ? Kosmi.io (best viewed on desktop) also lets you set up virtual rooms (public or private) to share screens, watch Youtube videos together, and more.

2. Keep in touch using Instagram Live

Instagram's Live function has been around for quite a while now, but now that everyone's stuck at home we've seen a surge of users broadcasting their Lives and welcoming others to join in. Dozens of celebrities have even joined the fun including John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, and Miley Cyrus.

But who says you need to be a celebrity to go Live! It's a good alternative to Facetime so you can say hello to your loved ones, and sometimes texting just doesn't cut it. Seeing your loved ones' faces and hearing their voice can help with feelings of loneliness or isolation. ? If you're doing an activity such as cooking, exercising, or just chilling out it's a nice way to chat and get to see each other. Why not try these 10 easy Korean recipes you can make at home, and hold a Mukbang afterwards to chat while you chow down? ?

3. Challenge each other to online multiplayer games

Credit: Catan Universe

When in doubt, head for your gadgets. There are all sorts of online multiplayer games available across every age group. From Settlers of Catan to Werewolf Online (download for iOS | Android) your competitive streak will get fired up for sure. ? Best of all, these are free! Family-friendly options (so you can see your niece and nephew you haven't been able to hang out with in weeks) are also available on Jackbox which has a variety of games including drawing contests and trivia. Jackbox can be used with Google Hangouts' shared screen option so you no longer need to be in the same room to play.

Credit: Tabletopia

If you're a board game or tabletop game fanatic who's been deprived of their tabletop sessions for a while, check out Tabletopia with your buddies for hundreds(!) of free board and card-based games online. You might even discover your next new favourite you can continue playing once it's safe to meet up again.

P.S. Do check if there are free trial options for any games you want to try out. You can split the cost with your friends if you all fall in love with it! Who knows, it might even turn into a regular game night after self-quarantine ends. ?

4. Start a virtual book club

Our computers and game consoles might provide endless entertainment, but it's important to give our eyes a break from the screen now and then. A self-quarantine is a great time to pick up a book - whether you're an avid reader who's trying to clear their stacks of books, or trying to give reading a shot now that you have more time on your hands. No matter where you are in your reading progress, getting your friends involved can help keep you interested!

Book clubs have been a popular social activity for decades now, and they're a great way to dive deeper into your book and keep each other on track. ? Start your book club by picking out a book: Scribd is posting book recommendations on their Twitter right now, and Project Gutenberg is an online catalog of over 60,000 free eBooks including classics such as Pride and Prejudice, Dracula, and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series. There are also dozens of online forums and websites dedicated to discussing books including Goodreads and the r/books subreddit and they usually have their own recommendation threads too.

P.S. There's no fixed way to host a book club - you can go for one chapter a month, or even one whole book a month! It's up to you, and since you can set the pace amongst your own friends you don't have to worry about keeping up.

5. Start an Islamic book club

Why not take your book club to the next level by reading through the Quran together, picking up an Islamic book from shops such as Wardah Books, or starting on Quran journaling together. ? You can also check out the #readingmuslimahmy hashtag on Instagram where Malaysian Muslimahs are sharing their reads for the month.

With Ramadan coming up (we've just entered the month of Sha'ban!) there's no better time to get a headstart on strengthening your faith and ibadah. Discussing your thoughts with friends can help you deepen your understandings of key writings, and keeping your faith strong will give you lots of emotional and mental support through this stressful period. Here are 7 more ways to keep calm and stay positive as a Muslim during this time.

P.S. We're just 1 month away from Ramadan - here are 10 tips to get you ready for the holy month. ?

6. Pick up a new skill or habit together

Friends who self-quarantine together, self-learn together! ? No better time than now to pick up a new skill, so why not drag your friends into it too. Sign up for courses on Skillshare or Coursera and learn anything from photography skills to world history. There are also lots of daily challenges for photography and other creative mediums (e.g. sketching, cartooning, graphic design) so if you guys are in the creative field you can keep your skills sharp!

7. Involve each other in daily routines

If you're trying to commit to some new habits or getting used to working from home, get your friends involved and hold each other to your goals. Our closest friends are exactly the ones we can rely on to keep us in check and make sure we've not lost sight of what lies ahead. ?

Sites such as Habitica can turn habit-forming into a fun collaborative game, and you can even use Instagram Live, Facetime, or other apps to check-in throughout the day. If you're embarking on projects - maybe it's time to #konmari your room - your friends and family can be your biggest cheerleaders too! Check out 10 more amazing productivity tips here to help you and your loved ones stay on top of your to-do's while you're working from home.

8. Start planning your next big adventure

Why not ask your travel buddies to look for #travelinspo and start planning ahead for when it's safe to travel again? ? B00king a flight or hotel may be out of the picture for now, but you can look up weekend road trips in Malaysia, what to do in Japan's most popular cities, or even all the amazing halal Korean eateries in Seoul. ?

Though you may not be able to make any concrete plans, getting a headstart on your planning means a fuss-free travel journey later on. Click here for even more tips on planning ahead for your next adventure or how to plan together as a group while avoiding any arguments.

Even though we may need to #stayhome right now, it's not the end of the world - or of your friendships! For now we just need to stay strong and support each other ... and watch another few episodes of the latest shows on Netflix. ?