This post is sponsored by Houseparty, the video chatting and virtual game platform that is connecting friends and family across the country!
Let me start by saying I am so thankful we live in a time where technology and video chat can keep us connected. With all of the stress of Safer at Home orders, quarantine, social distance, and the cancellation of my favorite activities and events, this is something I have truly be thankful for in the past several weeks.
I live six blocks from my mom and sister (and my brother-in-law and niece). My fiancé’s family lives near Omaha, NE. We have six kids, two moms, six siblings and four nieces/nephews across three different states. Thanks to COVID-19 we’ve had to cancel two trips to visit our adult daughters, as well as birthday parties and drinks with my girlfriends. It’s taken an emotional toll.
Enter a new phone app & browser extension: Houseparty.
What is Houseparty?
Simply put, Houseparty is an app or browser extension that enables people to connect via video. Not only can you video chat, but you can also play games with friends and family. Friendship on Houseparty is by mutual agreement. Only people you have accepted as friends can join you when you open the app. Rooms can be locked or unlocked by people in the room. My teenage son has the application and I can monitor who he is able to video chat with.
When I open the app, my friends and family get a notification that I’m “in the house.” It’s kind of fun when I see my adult daughters on the app. I like to just drop in their Houseparty and be weird. They are good sports about it…..most of the time. 🙂
Our family Houseparty meetups have been something I look forward to each week. While a virtual meetup will never replace being physically together, it sure is a close runner up.
Not all Houseparty meetups are the same
Since downloading the app when the world first shut down, thanks to COVID-19, I’ve used the app in several different ways and with different friends and family.
Sunday Family Dinners
I used to have dinner at my mom’s house every Sunday evening. It’s been our family rhythm since my dad was diagnosed with cancer six years ago. It’s become even more comforting since his passing. When Safer at Home was put in place, we had to stop gathering for a family meal. Sunday evenings were left empty and lacked the family connection I had grown to need.
Rather than isolate from each other, we replaced our in-person Sunday family dinner with a Sunday family Houseparty. Now we can even include my brother and his fiance in Minnesota. The games are a fun added bonus. I find myself missing my family just a little less at the end of a Sunday night.
Kids Get Together
My teenage son has found that Houseparty is a fun way to connect with his friends. I can see when he’s in a group chat with his friends and who is in the party with him. It’s fun to hear his laughter coming up the stairs.
There was a wonderful morning when I saw Jaden “in the house” and I popped in the app from my home office (which also happens to be the family dining room). He was video chatting with a friend, and soon after her mom joined too. The four of us played a few rounds of an in-app game Chips and Guac. It’s similar to Apples to Apples. We has so much fun! It was a warm welcomed distraction from virtual learning and remote working.
Video Chat Family Celebrations
Like most families, we had to cancel family gatherings, adult game nights and girl’s night out. We’ve scheduled Housepartys instead. One weekend, we were supposed to meet our girls and their boyfriends in Iowa City. On the night when we should have been going out to eat and hanging in a hotel room, we gathered from our four different homes and virtually hung out as a family. It made what was a really sad weekend, into something memorable with lots of laughs.
Download Houseparty and invite your friends!
What Parents Need to Know About Houseparty
When you join a house party, you have the ability to lock the room so only those who are approved can join the video chat. That way you can ensure your kids are only talking to other they know. AND you can have an adult only Houseparty and lock the kids OUT!
4 Different Games
Not only can you video chat using Houseparty but you can play four interactive games.
Heads Up! : This works just like Ellen’s favorite game. One person is the guesser, while the rest of the group has to give clues. Once the guesser gets the answer correct, they move onto the next word.
Trivia : This game is self explanatory. Select from 13+ categories and let the game begin! Categories range from Fortnite to …&Chill? There’s topics for the whole family. The people who answers the most questions – wins!
Chips and Guac : This is similar to Apples to Apples. Someone is the judge and is given a category card. It could be a word like “sassy” or an emoji. The rest of the party has cards in their hand to select from. The goal is to get the judge to select your card. Every round you win, you get a chip. First player to get five chips wins!
Quick Draw! : This game reminds me of Pictionary – just on a phone screen. Makes for some interesting drawings, but so many laughs!
Spend time with people you care about.
While I only discovered the Houseparty app because of the COVID-19 crisis, it’ll bring my family together well beyond this pandemic. It’s a fun way to video chat with our daughters and their boyfriends in NE. It’s a way to bring my brother in MN into Sunday family dinners. As our world begins to slowly adjust and we can begin to venture out into our neighborhood again, it doesn’t mean I’ll stop connecting with friends and family using Houseparty.