Become the Gatsby of FaceTime with our step-by-step guide to hosting an exquisite digital get together in the age of coronavirus. Don't let government-enforced lockdown shut down the party.
Nine hot tips for staying social in the age of coronavirus
1. E-cards are back
You can hardly blame a guest for flaking on a half-hearted WhatsApp invitation. Facebook chat is also unceremonious and unlikely to pull a crowd. Use Canva or Adobe InDesign, instead. Craft a narrative by paying close attention to the email subject line, font, text and images - don't shy away from being a GIF maximalist (god knows we need the stimulation). Be clear about times, skip on location and specify dress code.
2. Choose your domain wisely
Think of your app domain as your venue. It dictates the tone and reflects your values as a webcam revivalist. Any discerning isolator knows that Houseparty is the equivalent of a night on the tiles at Popworld; an evening on screen-sharing app Squad will be intimate (no French exits here); while web-conference app Zoom is anathema to care-free carousers, though might suit a quiet dinner party... FaceTime remains the place to see and be seen.
That's Bring Your Own Booze Or Soft Drink. Remember, you might be partying across time zones. Some guests might arrive fresh after breakfast, half-cut from a previous party or hungover. Bloody Marys are good all-rounders - suitable either as an evening tipple or a breakfast juice - and, of course, it's always champagne o'clock. Prosecco will suffice. Drinking alcoholic hand-sanitiser can cause alcohol poisoning, nervous system damage and/ or blindness.
4. Make an effort
Despite what Vogue might tell you, it's not just about waist-up dressing. Ironed clothes are a given. Toilet roll, disinfectant spray and dried pasta are the status symbols du jour, but please, dress the screen with taste. A toilet roll pyramid? Gauche. An artfully dishevelled heap of triple-ply? Cultured and whimsical; you probably read Rachel Cusk. Pasta jewellery is chic, unless painted and therefore no longer edible. People will e-bitch in a separate WhatsApp thread about your frivolity during a time of crisis. You've been warned.
5. Dust off your best bits
Unless you yourself are that party guest - the loose-limbed type constantly invoiced for shattered tableware - polish up your finest glasses. Quarantine is an excuse to relish that collection. You're outsourcing your guests so there's little chance of it being ruined.
6. Lighting is key
A downward-facing lamp will contour, while spotlights can be a little harsh. Delve back into your Christmas arsenal of fairy lights for a soft glow.
7. Anything but c**********
Refer to point one: In your invitation, indicate which add-ons guests should have installed before they tune in. JQBX allows all users to listen to the same Spotify playlist in sync so you can soundtrack the party remotely - a dream for e-hosts. Ensure you have a wodge of online games lined up lest conversation turns to c**********. Psych is a group quiz game with guaranteed lols, while good old-fashioned charades translates magnificently to the small screen and can be initiated faster than you can say 'stair shuffle challenge'. Cripes.
8. Fake it
Ultimately, the end result is a digitised image. '"The camera doesn't lie"? Pfft. The camera does lie - that's one of its greatest strengths. Burned through your Diptyque candle? Fill it with a tealight instead. Running low on gin? A tastefully garnished glass of water looks no different.
To ensure your global gathering is the stuff of legend, make sure you've looped in a guest on a later time zone who'll be able to continue the party once you're ready to hit the sack. After all, a party's only as good as its after-party. If you invite a truly international set, you should be able to sustain one long video party ad infinitum - or until whenever this dystopian bubble decides to finally burst.