If you’ve ever experienced the chaos a spilled glass of red wine can cause at a dinner party you’re going to enjoy today’s post.
That’s because we’re seating everyone at today’s hypothetical dinner at a safe distance from each other, far enough away to avoid any staining splashes. Thousands of miles away from each other, in fact, because: it’s a video conferencing dinner party.
And, be it a family reunion with relatives across the ocean, a romantic long-distance dinner for two, or just a messy, Mexican-themed catch up with old friends in, well, Mexico, it’s the best way to bond remotely while breaking bread, just as you would do in person.
On second thoughts, it’s even better.
Start with an Online Cooking Class
Our dinner party, just like the boring old in-person version, begins with the meal preparation. Only with ours we’re going to begin with a professional group cooking class so we can make something memorable for our virtual table.
This part of our evening doesn’t need any leap of imagination as interactive, video conferencing cooking classes already exist online. Dishup Today started providing private online cooking classes for up to three people at a time several years ago, and uses free services such as Skype to make the e-kitchen service accessible.
Now, Skype allows for dozens of people to share a group chat–you don’t even have to sign-up anymore–so it’s easy to imagine scaling up a service like Dishup Today to accommodate as many guests as you can invite (and they’ll all have to attend the class as there’s no communal plate to share).
Just remember to mail out a list of ingredients with your video call invite, or someone’s souffle isn’t going to rise.
With an affordable webcam mounted on a laptop, or by using a tablet or smartphone–because you’ll need something a little mobile to sit atop your kitchen bench–everyone can follow along with a pro, who can also check that each step of the recipe is looking okay for each participant.
And this chef can obviously direct things from anywhere in the world, due to the near-global reach of the internet.
As can your guests.
The Virtual Dining Table
This is the highlight of the evening.
With everyone preparing their own dish in the convenience of their own home, there’s no need to waste time laying out an enormous dining table, or cobbling together several smaller tables and hiding the fact you don’t actually own a formal dining table under a white sheet.
Instead, each guest can bring a little something of themselves to the table. It’s like having a conversation starter at each place setting. But because we’re digital that decorative trinket could be a video, scanned pictures from an old yearbook, a selection of songs, or anything else you can either display in front of a camera, or share on a computer screen.
Most modern VC platforms allow screen sharing, which adds a show-and-tell dynamic to any video chat. It simply switches the streamed content of your chat window from your glorious face to whatever is currently displayed on your device. That cute baby picture you use as a screensaver can now be seen by everyone.
Online Date Night
Such a shared cooking and dining experience could be a great way to conduct a first date with someone you’ve met online. Lots of online dating services let you meet people over the internet, but there aren’t any that let you go on a date that way, which seems to us a failure of imagination, since it is certainly a safer way to get to know a stranger.
Whatever your reason for sharing a virtual dining table, the idea demonstrates how video conferencing might just become the most humanizing of all 21st century technology.
Perhaps over the holidays this year, you’ll find time to prepare and share an intimate meal with a loved one thousands of miles out of physical reach.