Photo courtesy of Social Werks Communications.

In these unprecedented times, Americans are being asked to come together — by staying apart. Social distancing practices have been deemed essential to keeping our community safe, aiding in slowing the spread of coronavirus and protecting vulnerable populations. But that the isolation and break from routine also can take a toll on peoples’ mental health.

The recent trend of hosting virtual happy hours has provided a method to cut loose and enjoy a night out — while staying in.

Nicole Logan, creative director at Social Werks Communications, has been hosting virtual happy hours through social media for a while, even long before social distancing was a mandatory thing. Last year, she hosted a National Rainier Cherry Day happy hour focused on local spiked sparkling water company San Juan Seltzer. Logan knew how powerful these virtual events could be in terms of forging a sense of safety and community.

“The value of a virtual happy hour is to create a positive conversation that puts all stress and worry aside for an hour of the day. (It) is an hour of sharing humor, celebrating friendship, and spending a moment of time with others,” Logan said.

Logan’s tips to hosting a house-bound happy hour include:

  • Create a theme and include a hashtag everyone can follow. Logan’s are #PopPourWAFriends or #Pourat4WA. Then figure out which platform you’d like to use and set a date and time and invite.
  • Create your menu. Pick two beverages and a few favorite snacks.
  • Find a cozy spot either outside or inside. Have your food and beverage all set up as the event is set to begin.
  • Make sure your phone and/or computer is fully charged.
  • Leading up to the happy hour, do a little pre-post, sharing a photo of your setup to let your guests know you’re excited and ready.
  • Pop open your beverage, pour, raise your glass, and enjoy.

Many others are taking a less-formal route to online happy hours. Take the events recently hosted by Mike Plaster of Snoqualmie, for example. Plaster takes a much more laid-back approach, simply posting a picture with his wife and neighbors on Facebook and inviting others to comment with what they’re drinking.

Photo courtesy of Plaster Consulting Group.

“The main thing is to do whatever works best for you and the people in your circle,” said Plaster, who owns Plaster Consulting Group with wife, Heidi. “The connections are what really matter here — however you define ‘happy hour,’ it’s just a way to find a little enjoyment where you can. I’ve heard about people having cooking parties online where everyone makes the same recipe, hosting virtual game nights, even karaoke parties. Those are great ideas.”

Even larger businesses are jumping on the virtual-event trend. Pacific Place Seattle, for example, is now streaming live concerts every day at 5 p.m. via its Facebook and Instagram pages.

As these creative souls have found, there are plenty of ways to keep the good times rolling (or should we say, streaming) while still practicing social distancing.