Studies have long shown that building relationships with others in your community and neighborhood have a lasting impact on satisfaction and emotional well-being. However, during these times where we are being encouraged to practice social distancing and many of us are under shelter-in-place orders it can be difficult to connect with your neighbors. If you are one of the millions of American’s living in a community association, your board has likely cancelled any in-person events and also shut down shared amenities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still connect, virtually, with your neighbors. Virtual events provide a unique and important experience for many owners, below are a few ideas that your community might be interested in planning.
What Is a Virtual Event?
A virtual event is any organized gathering that takes place online instead of in-person at a physical location. One of the biggest benefits of these online events is that they can accommodate as few or as many people as necessary, including massive sessions with thousands of people in attendance.
Event Set-Up Logistics
There are a lot of online communication platforms out there to use, but Facebook Live, Zoom, and even Google Hangouts are easy to use and provide free to use versions of their software. Choose which platform you want to use to host your event and create an account for your community. From there you will need to create an event with a class description and can even include photos. Be sure to include the date and time, and if applicable, provide the vendor's registration information for payment. Make sure to send an email to homeowners with the event information and giving directions as to which online platform the event will be on, and what if any, supplies are needed. If your community has any social media pages, post information with links to register there as well.
Ideas for Events
Setting up virtual events is a fairly easy process but many people are left wondering what types of events they can host virtually that owners would enjoy. There are many sites out there with fun and unique online event ideas but here are some of the ones we’ve seen be successful in our communities. While many of these ideas can be done just for fun, you can also incorporate prizes to try and get more participation from homeowners.
Photo Scavenger Hunt
A photo scavenger hunt is a great way to come together while practicing social distancing and it can get all ages involved. Start by creating a list of things that people may be able to find in their homes, and while on walks in your neighborhood, you can even get creative and add something to a tree in your neighborhood or in your front window. Once you have a pretty big list, create an online event page or post on social media with details of what participants should be on the lookout for and when they need to have the photos submitted. Tell participants that they can tag the photos as each item on the scavenger hunt and that you will announce the winners at the end of the contest.
All Kinds of Games
Trivia nights and bingo have always been pretty popular for community get-togethers and they still can be even online. Companies like TriviaHubLive.io offer paid platforms that let you easily host a trivia night with a bunch of residents, but you can recreate the same type of activity free using Facebook Live or even Zoom. If you aren’t comfortable being the “quizmaster” consider hiring a local company like those that provide services to local bars to host your virtual event.
Bingo games are even easier to play virtually as you can download cards from numerous websites for your residents to use. Recently Matthew McConaughey hosted a virtual bingo night for a senior community in Texas that was a hit. All you need for a virtual bingo night is a host to call out the numbers and to let participants know where they can get the cards.
There are lot of options for online games, resources like this Thrillist article discuss some popular multiplayer games that can be played online by groups. Ask your community what games they’d like to see you play virtually, many game companies are now offering simple online tutorials to help people play even while respecting the social distancing guidelines.
Fitness and Educational Classes
Probably one of the most popular virtual events are those that help people stay in shape. As gyms across the country have closed, many of your residents are probably looking for alternate ways to work on those summer figures. If you happen to have a fitness guru living at your community consider asking them to host a class where participants can login and follow along. Village Walk at Lake Nona recently started hosting an online Yoga class to all residents via zoom.
Some educational options include arts and crafts, where a local expert can walk your owners through making something with things they likely already have in their homes. Language classes are also popular as hosts can provide immediate feedback to those trying to learn. Your community is full of talented people who would probably love to share their knowledge with neighbors so ask for volunteers to teach these classes if possible.
Concerts or Movie Nights
Many local music artist are likely looking for ways to perform and make some additional cash while most venues are closed. You can use Zoom or Facebook live to host a virtual concert for your community. We encourage your to find local musicians and provide residents with a link to donate to the artist for their set. Some more famous acts are even hosting large concerts via these platforms that you can share with residents and encourage them to watch.
Another option is hosting an online Movie Night. Netflix Party offers options for those who already have an existing Netflix account to login and watch a movie together. Don’t have Netflix? There are plenty of other options available for free that you can use to watch movies with your neighbors like those in the Nerdist article. Just make sure you let people know the ratings and suggestions for the movie as many with children may need to know before letting the whole family join in.
We know that right now things are difficult and with many people feeling isolated in their homes, we hope that some of these ideas will help you and your community connect. To help you plan your event we’ve created a Virtual Lifestyle Event Guide that you can download for free now. Let us know about the events you plan to host and if you have any suggestions that you’d like to share with other communities. Stay safe!