7 new things to try over video chat

From family fun to fitness sessions, a few ideas to make the most of that video call…

18 Jan 2021

During lockdown, video calling is a great way of connecting with far-off family and friends. It’s easy to do using your smartphone, tablet, or dedicated tech like Portal from Facebook. Portal works with WhatsApp and Messenger, so even if someone doesn’t own a Portal device, you can still connect with them.

You can do lots more than just talking on a video call. With a little imagination, you can have loads of fun (and we’re not just talking about quizzes. Been there, done that). From cooking along in perfect harmony with mum to doing fitness classes with your gym buddy, we’ve come up with a few ideas to put the fun into your next video catchups:


1. Cooking classes


When the best cook in your family (hello mum) gives you a recipe to try out yourself, it never tastes as good as theirs, does it? A live tutorial from mum on Facebook Portal will help you nail it.

Just position your Portal (or other device) where you get a clear view of your kitchen workspace, and you can make your meal together in perfect sync. Portal makes this even simpler for you, as the camera follows you around the room. So, you’ll know exactly when to do things like adding ingredients, adjusting the heat and plating up.


2. Board games

Some board games are quite tricky to play over a video chat, like Scrabble or Monopoly. But some classic games like Battleships are just made for video calls. The rules are exactly the same as in person, but just make sure your friend can’t see your board on their screen!

If you’re using a Portal you can have lots of people on the same call, and play your favourite games from Facebook Messenger. So even if you don’t have a Battleships board, or you want your Scrabble fix, you can always play onscreen with Words With Friends and lots more.

Of course, if you prefer playing on a real board, there are loads of other games out there that make video chats a whole lot more fun. Boggle is perfect for wordsmiths with a keen eye, and it’s great for getting the whole family together. And if you fancy yourself a tactician, you can’t beat a game of chess.


3. Home workouts


We may not be able to go to our gyms right now, but you’ve still got loads of options for keeping fit at home. Even if your gym isn’t offering virtual classes, you can find professional trainers on YouTube offering free workouts, or HIIT classes that you can do indoors or in the garden. Why not give your gym partner a video call, put the video on together and give each other some extra motivation!

Just remember to position your smart device in the optimum spot so your workout buddy can give you pointers. If you’ve got a Facebook Portal, the smart camera will keep you front and centre, so you’ll have to push for that final sit-up under the watchful eye of your mate.


4. Story Time and play dates

Are the kids are missing their grandparents’ bedtime stories, or hanging out with their friends? Well, you can arrange a playdate over your Facebook Portal and let them have fun while the mums and dads catch up with one another. It’s a great way to keep the kids entertained and get everyone socialising.

And when it’s their bedtime, they’ll love hearing their favourite stories read by grandma and grandpa. Facebook Portal Story Time feature uses AR face filters and sound effects to transform the storyteller into each character. The results can be hilarious and are always memorable, and with 15 classic tales and more to come, the kids will definitely be entertained.


5. Movie night

We might not be able to pass the popcorn to each other, be we can still share all the highs and low of a brilliant movie. Choose one with a friend, and watch it together at the same time. Then make sure you’ve got enough time at the end to review it together.

Or, if there’s a show you’ve both been planning to watch, make it a regular thing and watch each episode together. If you’re like us, you’ll have a stack of shows you’ve been recommended. Now’s the ideal time to see what all the fuss is about.



6. Tasting sessions

What about holding a remote wine, beer or cheese tasting session? You’ll need to plan ahead to a little and order the same things, then on the big night you can try everything together and compare notes.


7. Meditate together

In these trying times, freeing your mind from stress is more important than ever. Meditation is usually seen as something you do on your own, but you can also do it with friends. Meditating with others (even if they’re not physically sitting beside you) brings a different energy to the session, and sometimes makes it more focused. Give it a try!

There you go - seven ways to help make every video call memorable, unique and fun. Want even more ideas? Check out our top tips for socialising remotely here.

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