Things to do to stay connected and distracted in quarantine, From Zoom parties to binge-watching 'Tiger King'


Coronavirus Entertainment

  • As the new reality of living through a pandemic sets in, people are searching to temper the deluge of medical information and intimidating headlines with quarantine entertainment. 
  • While typical stress relief activities may be harder to orchestrate during a time of mass social distancing and sheltering in place, there are a number of ways to steer clear of coronavirus news and enjoy the time at home. 
  • Between new Netflix series, mass gaming movements, and quarantine social media content, you can find small ways to make the most of social distancing. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The novel coronavirus is no longer culturally novel — it’s been several weeks since schools and non-essential workplaces began to close down, and many are settling into what’s become a new normal of social distancing. In lieu of face-to-face contact, people around the world have developed new ways to stay connected and still have fun, even while adhering to public health guidelines. 

From bingeing Netflix series like “Tiger King” to celebrating birthdays with family to getting really passionate about baking bread, we’ve compiled some suggestions on how to entertain yourself — and still hang out with your friends — while quarantined.

Meet up with your friends virtually while playing games together, whether it’s playing a board game like “Settlers of Catan” online or meeting up with pals in virtual worlds.

Virtual worlds provide a unique opportunity to hang out with your friends while still maintaining proper social distance. Recent release “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is a hot topic at the moment, with plenty of gamers causing mischief while visiting their friends’ islands via Nintendo Switch Online. Others are using the game to celebrate milestones, holding weddings and graduations within the game itself after they were canceled in the real world. Turning towards games like the nostalgia-laced “Club Penguin” can help relieve stress and mitigate anxiety while distancing as well.

It might be a good time to get into the Minecraft renaissance as well, or pick up teenage favorite Roblox — even if high schools aren’t actually planning to hold graduation ceremonies in the game.

Of course, you don’t have to focus on video games alone — Business Insider Associate Editor Juliana Kaplan played an online version of popular board game Settlers of Catan while chatting with friends over a Zoom call.

There are plenty of other games that you can play online as well, ranging from classics like UNO! or Monopoly to fun, vulgar games to play with friends like Cards Against Humanity to mobile games like “Mario Kart Tour.” Feel free to get back into classics like “Words With Friends” or “Scattergories” as well.

Quarantine also affords the perfect opportunity to get into cooking by putting pantry staples to good use and testing out more ambitious recipes.

With many no longer commuting into work, there’s more time available to spend in the kitchen. Check out some tips from celebrity chefs on how to stock up your pantry and put it to good use, as well as this guide on how to leverage your pantry staples into a delicious pasta dish. If you’re feeling like learning a new skill, think about taking an online pasta-making class from an Italian grandma, and if you’re looking for more inspiration, tune in to this Michelin-starred chef’s nightly cooking streams.

If you’re looking for a way to cut down on one staple at the store, you can hop on the bread-making trend. Check out these baking hacks if you’re looking to up your bread — or cake, or cookie, or any other baked good — game. That being said, feel free to fall back to your trusty microwave as necessary, and use these tips to doll up a classic brownie mix dessert when you need something reliable.

Make efforts to stay connected with your friends using video chatting platforms to throw parties and just hang out.

While you can’t celebrate birthdays or throw parties in person, use video chatting platforms like Zoom or Google Hangouts to hang out with your friends in groups. Insider Digital culture reporter Kat Tenbarge put together a guide to hosting the perfect Zoom party while socially distancing, featuring tips on how to manage the conversation and even pick out the perfect background. 

Of course, it’s still possible to meet people (via services like QuarantineChat) and even strike up romance while isolated. Digital culture fellow Hanna Lustig went through several lightning-fast dates on the fan-made Instagram “Love is Blind” spoof “Love is Quarantine,”  but even if you can’t find a virtual dating show to join, there are plenty of other ways to date while maintaining distance. 

Plenty of others are turning to services like Google Hangouts, which lets you video chat with friends using your Google account, and Houseparty, another video chatting app popular with teenagers that allows you to play games in-app, to connect with people.


Stay connected with the people you still see outside of a screen as well, whether it’s planning fun nights to hang out or honoring birthday celebrations.

While it’s now easy to connect with remote friends online, it’s just as important to take advantage of the in-person relationships you still have, whether you’re currently living with roommates, family, or a partner. 

People have taken to TikTok and other social media platforms to share how they’ve been creatively celebrating birthdays, setting up “pub crawls” in homes to celebrate a 21st or playing beer pong with friends while video chatting. 

One family has been uploading videos to TikTok of elaborate themed dinners, cooking food and creating experiences around themes like “airplane,” “Hibachi grill,” and “Hooters.” Finding creative ways to make meals more fun can add a bright spot to your day and lead to quality time with the people you’re living with. 

Plenty of celebrity families are opening up their lives to the public on TikTok while quarantined as well, including Ciara, Usher, and Jennifer Lopez, if you’re looking for more examples of family fun.

Even though many artists have been forced to cancel tours in light of the pandemic, you can still catch performances from some of your favorite performances online.

Insider entertainment reporter Callie Ahlgrim compiled a list of virtual performances that you can watch at your own convenience from artists like Billie Eilish, BTS, and Dua Lipa. Keep an eye out on your favorite artists’ social media channels to see if they’re planning on livestreaming any time soon. 

If you’re looking for something dance too, you can try to hunt down any virtual raves and recreate the nightclub experience in your home like news fellow Sophia Ankel. While it may not be a perfect replica of the atmosphere, at the very least you’ll be able to enjoy some live beats from professional DJs!

If you want to interact with performers more directly, you can hire artists, magicians, and other performers to come to your online parties like some parents did for their kids’ birthday parties.


Cheer up quarantined friends with a shoutout from their favorite celebrity via Cameo.

If you’re looking to surprise quarantined loved ones with star-studded pick-me-ups (while possibly making a charitable donation) you can purchase a Cameo shout-out from their favorite celebrities.

The video-sharing platform has witnessed record numbers of video requests and celebrity participation since mass social distancing measures took effect in March. Cameo CEO Steven Galanis said that the company grew 83 percent in just two weeks, and public figures who had been courted by the platform for years were finally adding themselves to the talent roster. 

Now, users can purchase videos from celebrities like “Saturday Night Live” alum Rachel Dratch, pop icon and “This Is Us” star Mandy Moore, and the wildly popular Bon Appétit Test Kitchen YouTube stars.

If you’re looking to do your part to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, you can purchase Cameo content from creators who will be donating their proceeds to charities like Restaurant Workers’ Relief Fund and No Kid Hungry. 

Try out Netflix’s quarantine-friendly feature, Netflix Party, while binge-watching “Tiger King.”

If you’re hoping to forget your COVID-19 fears and get swept up in the niche drama of big cat captivity in the United States, there’s no better quarantine activity than watching Netflix’s newest docuseries “Tiger Cat: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”

The hit documentary chronicles the escalating conflict between big cat breeders who own private zoos and animal rights activists — a conflict that culminates in an alleged murder-for-hire plot. Ultimately, though, the appeal of “Tiger King” comes from the chaotic energy of its bizarre and compelling cast. 

Accordingly, the #TigerKing hashtag has dominated Twitter since the documentary premiered and celebrities are already angling to score roles in a potential movie remake. 

You don’t have to experience the magic and chaos of “Tiger King” by yourself. Netflix Party, an increasingly popular feature from the streaming service, allows users to download a Google Chrome browser extension that facilitates group-watching. After downloading the extension, you are free to invite friends to watch content simultaneously — and everyone can share their thoughts in a virtual chat. 

For those who have already binged the series, Netflix’s endless catalog of docuseries has other options, from “Making a Murderer” to “The Staircase.” 

If the real-life drama of tiger breeding and captivity isn’t your preferred genre of entertainment, you can peruse the streaming service’s selection of sci-fi movies, from “The Matrix” to “The Lobster,” or you can check out some of the more popular tear-jerkers for a change of pace. 



Take advantage of HBO’s special social distancing offerings and watch shows for free.

In an effort to keep people entertained in quarantine, the network is allowing people to watch some of its most popular series, movies, and documentaries for free. 

“To provide some entertainment relief for those doing their part to keep everyone safe and healthy in this time of social isolation, HBO is making almost 500 hours of top programming available to stream for free for a limited time on HBO NOW and HBO GO — without a subscription — starting this Friday, April 3,” the company said in a press release.

You’ll soon be able to binge “Succession,” “True Blood, “The Sopranos,” “Veep,” and “The Wire,” among other shows, for free. 

Make the most of Quibi, a new streaming service launching in April.

Beginning on April 6, you’ll have yet another option for streaming content on your phones. Quibi, a service backed by film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, will be available in an app for smartphones and offer short-form entertainment — or “quick bites of content” — Lifestyle Writer Gabbi Shaw reports. 

Viewers can look forward to reboots of “Varsity Blues” and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” as well as a “Punk’d” revival on the app.

If you’re desperate for some time away from home while practicing appropriate social distancing, you can witness the renaissance of drive-in movies.

For those needing some semblance of human interaction outside of the home, there may be a solution. While drive-in movie theaters peaked in popularity in the mid-twentieth century and have witnessed a steep decline in the last two decades, the nostalgic form of entertainment is experiencing a comeback amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

However, ever-changing city ordinances regarding social distancing and quarantine measures will affect which drive-ins can remain open, so make sure to check updated policies and recommendations before venturing to your nearest drive-in. 



Find some levity by browsing quarantine TikToks and memes — or make your own.

Over the past month, TikTok users have ramped up their “quarantine content” which provides an endless supply of distractions amid social distancing boredom. 

Quarantine TikTok has videos for every taste: there are “High School Musical” dance workouts, pet tic-tac-toe, solo dance parties, and themed dinners. 

Then, of course, there is the deluge of “Tiger King” content. Fans of the show are channeling their inner Carole Baskins and Joe Exotics for family dinner parties and makeup tutorials — and uploading the results to the platform, to the delight of millions. 

If you’re just getting started on your own TikTok presence, you could start out with Charlie D’Amelio’s “distance dance” before branching into the arena of elaborate costumes. 


Indulge your Instagram-stalking tendencies and discover quarantine memes with your friends, thanks to the app’s new Co-Watching feature.

While incessant Instagram scrolling may be unavoidable during times of social distancing boredom, the Co-Watching feature  — a perk the company decided to launch during the pandemic — makes your vice a way of connecting with friends.

Users who are video chatting within the app can share a screen and peruse their fellow callers’ liked photos and bookmarked posts, Tech Reporter Paige Leskin reported. 

“We decided to make it available soon so we could offer more ways for people to come together right now,” an Instagram spokesperson said of the feature’s expedited rollout. 

The new feature also provides the opportunity to commiserate with friends via coronavirus memes. Instagram meme pages are finding levity in the new normal of quarantine life, from working from home to unexpected family time to the new global demand for Purell. 

Peruse Twitter’s best quarantine memes.

Twitter has proven to be the best destination for memes finding the humor in the new reality of a pandemic. 

From “celebrities as hand sanitizer” memes to tweets imagining how the pandemic might play out on an episode of “Office,” the platform is inundated with content to help you laugh at the new normal. 

Entertain your neighbors with a “bear hunt.”

If you have young neighbors who might need an adorable distraction during their days of quarantine and distance learning, you can participate in a “bear hunt,” — an international project popping up in cities in the United States, Iceland, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand, among other countries.

Inspired by the 1989 children’s book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen, participants place teddy bears in their windows for children in the neighborhood to spot from their homes or out on occasional “distance walks.” 

Tweet Embed:
Guys my dog put his teddy bear in the window 😭❤️ I think he’s been on the internet when I’m not home and read about the #BearHunt and wanted the neighborhood kids to enjoy

Some participants say the scavenger hunt has taken off in their neighborhoods, and children wander by houses wearing full safari gear. 

Others have used the opportunity to educate about hygiene during the pandemic; some bears hold up information about the best handwashing practices to use during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Tweet Embed:
Like other cities around the world, Reykjavík residents have dealt with social distancing by putting #teddybears in their windows to cheer up their young ones. Children are encouraged to go for a walk in their neighbourhood and see how many teddy bears they can spot 🐻#bearhunt



Enjoy music video parodies on YouTube.

As everyone struggles to cope with isolation, many are turning to YouTube to find some levity and showcase their musical talents. 

For equal doses of entertainment and commiseration, check out singer-songwriter Chris Mann’s quarantine music videos. 

The former contestant on season two of “The Voice” produced his own rendition of The Knack’s 1979 hit single “My Sharona,” aptly renamed “My Corona.” For his next project, Mann parodied Madonna’s “Vogue,” with his own masterpiece called “Stay Home Vogue.”

His true masterpiece, however, takes the form of a parody of Adele’s hit “Hello” — called “Hello (from the Inside).”



Join a virtual workout class (for free).

Whether you’re missing your gym and pre-quarantine fitness routine or you’re just discovering an interest in working out, you can pass the time with free workout classes that many national chains are offering online.

Options range from Planet Fitness’ home “work ins” live-streamed on Facebook to virtual yoga classes to CrossFit challenges. 

As with all quarantine activities, though, moderation is key. People with histories of disordered eating and overexercising are reporting difficulties during the isolation of social distancing. 

If you prefer to disconnect from technology, take some time to dig into your backlog of books.

Once you’ve perused every meme, memorized every TikTok dance, and watched the entirety of Netflix’s documentary section, you may want to look for offline entertainment. 

Insider’s Frank Olito spoke with authors about which books they’d recommend reading during quarantine, and top picks included Ling Ma’s “Severance” or Casey McQuiston’s “Red, White, and Royal Blue.”

Use the newfound free time to work your way through the all-time best albums of Spotify.

Naturally, quarantine needs a soundtrack, so you can entertain yourself by listening to the all-time greatest albums available for streaming on Spotify, from Adele’s “25” to Aretha Franklin’s “Aretha.”

If some of the greats get a little too intense, you can always pivot to pick-me-up songs, from “Glitter” by Tyler, the Creator to Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour.”

Take virtual tours of cities, museums, and national parks to “escape” your home.

Since the ability to travel or pursue cultural enrichment is somewhat limited during quarantine, you may need to expand your horizons virtually.

Take a virtual trip to London and Prince Charles’ home, go on a remote safari, or chill out and watch some animal livestreams in order to take yourself out of the monotony of day-to-day life. There are also museums, national parks, and theme parks that you can check out from the comfort of your couch. Here are a few tips on how to get some Disney Parks magic in your home as well.


Read more:

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