With several weeks of social distancing under our belts, many of us have already tackled boredom-curing activities like spring cleaning, exercising, baking, and doing puzzles. We’ve previously shared ways to keep the kids amused, but we couldn’t forget about the adults! From organizing a virtual murder mystery party to learning how to bartend, here are nine activities you can enjoy now.
Host a Game Night
Organize a virtual Jeopardy! night with friends using an online template. You can build your very own game with custom questions or use templates created by other people. All you have to do is share your screen with players on Zoom and keep track of their scores. Rotate who hosts each week, and you’ve got yourself a standing game night.
Attend a Virtual Event
Join a virtual festival, watch a live comedy show, or learn about wine from the comfort of your couch. Businesses and leaders throughout Chicago are hosting an array of virtual events that give you the opportunity to meet new people, learn something new, or just be entertained. Checkout Choose Chicago’s roundup of upcoming events here.
Grab your sleeping bag and tent and head to the backyard for an evening under the stars. If you do not have outdoor space, convert your living room into a campsite. Set the ambiance by streaming a campfire on your TV or phone, and don’t forget about the s’mores, which you can easily make in the oven.
Become a Better Bartender
Miss your favorite bartender’s perfectly crafted cocktails? Bartenders across the country are helping you up your at-home bar game by teaching you all the tips, tricks, and recipes you need to elevate Happy Hour. When all else fails, you can always order a cocktail kit from a local restaurant or bar.
Take a Tour
Your travel plans may be on hold for now, but Google Earth still has your back. Tour dozens of national parks and see some of the country’s best views and natural landscapes without leaving the house. Take note of your favorite spots and start planning a future in-person trip.
Learn Something New
There is no time like the present to learn a new skill or subject. Whether you want to take on a new language, master the art of stand-up, or become a poet, there are plenty of online resources to help you take advantage of your free time. Learn from the best of the best in acting, writing, photography, leadership, entrepreneurship, and more from classes taught by the likes of Robin Roberts, Serena Williams, Annie Leibovitz, and Sara Blakely on MasterClass.
Catch a Live Show
Although our favorite music festivals have been cancelled or postponed this summer, you can still take in some live music courtesy of Lollapalooza’s Lolla From the Vault. Streamed on YouTube, Lolla From the Vault brings a different iconic performance from past years’ festivals every Thursday at 7:00 pm CT. You can also check out live performances from the Millennium Park Summer Music Series and Ravinia Festival.
Organize a Murder Mystery Party
You can’t invite your friends over for a murder mystery party right now, but you can use Zoom to experience a thrilling evening of mystery and crime with the help of Red Herring Games. Pick from Red Herring’s many, and often hilarious, storylines such as “The Great British Bump Off” and “Death Actually,” and choose the virtual option when you download the game. From there, assign characters to your participants, and you are ready to go.
Netflix and Enjoy Together
Take movie night to a new level by downloading Netflix Party, which synchronizes everyone’s videos so you and your friends can watch your favorite films or shows at the same time. Netflix Party even adds a group chat feature so you can easily express your “oohs,” “ahs,” and “no ways!” throughout your viewing.
Wishing you and your family a safe and happy Memorial Day as we remember and honor those who have given their lives for our country.
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It goes without saying but is definitely worth repeating: We are so grateful for all the healthcare workers who are saving lives and fighting this pandemic around the clock to keep us safe.
While you are hunkered down at home, there are still ways you can help those supporting patient care on every level, from doctors and nurses to technicians and pharmacists to EMTs and transporters.
Aside from social distancing, here’s what you can do:
With blood drives cancelled, the need for a stable supply of blood, platelets, and AB Elite plasma is still a reality for hospitals and blood banks around the country. Volunteer donors are the only source for those in need.
Healthy individuals can donate in areas that have issued Shelter in Place declarations by scheduling appointments with The Red Cross, which is following strict protocol for safety and infection control. Schedule an appointment with your local donation center here.
Help with Childcare
Many health workers are struggling to find care for their young children as schools and childcare programs remain closed. If you know someone in this situation, offer to watch their child while they are at work. You can also volunteer as a sitter with Sittercity, which is connecting first responders with free sitters in partnership with the city of Chicago.
Order Takeout or Delivery
If you know someone working on the frontlines, consider buying them delivery or takeout from a local restaurant that could also use your support. If you don’t know anyone but would still like to help, several restaurants in Chicago will send meals directly to healthcare workers. Happy Camper and Homeslice have an $11 “Buy a Meal for a Healthcare Worker/Volunteer” option on their menu, and sister restaurants Mott St. and Mini Mott are offering to deliver meals to medical professionals for $15 with a note of appreciation.
Shop for Their Groceries
Healthcare workers who are pulling extra hours may need help running essential errands. Offer to head to the store and check items off their list. Drop off groceries, essentials, and supplies at their home, and be sure to practice safe social distancing guidelines.
Healthcare workers across Chicagoland are in need of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and gowns.
The following area hospitals are taking donations:
- Advocate Health Care is accepting a variety of PPE donations. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to see if your supply qualifies.
- Edward-Elmhurst Heath is in need of N95 masks, surgical masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, nitrile gloves, isolation gowns, goggles, and thermometers. Donations can be made at the loading docks of Edward Hospital and Elmhurst Hospital.
- Northwestern Memorial Hospital is calling for factory-made, hospital-quality supplies such as N95 masks, face shields, gloves, gowns, and hand sanitizer. You must fill out this form first in order to donate.
- Rush University Medical Center is accepting various PPE contributions. Email their Associate Vice President for Supply Chain Operations, Quincy Stanley, for more information on how to coordinate your donation.
- University of Chicago Medical Center is looking for disinfectant wipes, surgical masks, N95 masks, and sterile cotton-tipped swabs. Please submit an intake form prior to donation.
The state of Illinois also needs N95, earloop and surgical masks, gowns, gloves, face shields, goggles, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes in original, unopened packaging. Email email@example.com if you are able to donate any of these items, and they will determine the best drop-off spot based on your address.
Tap into your creative side and help out the medical community by sewing masks. Although not all hospitals can accept fabric masks, several home care and retirement communities can use your help. Initiated by the Sewing & Craft Alliance, WeNeedMasks.org offers simple instructions on how to properly sew both surgical-style and Olson masks, and provides a list of facilities that are in need by state.
Messages of support or appreciation can make the most trying days a little bit better, and can come in the form of a social media shoutout, text, or handwritten note. If you have children, recruit their help creating hand-drawn cards and expressing their own words of gratitude for those serving our most vulnerable. Many facilities cannot accept mail because of immunocompromised patients, so be sure to call ahead before you send anything. You can also take a picture of your card or note and send via email for the facility to print.
Thank you again to all of those who are fighting the spread of COVID-19.
Chicago goes through a sort of metamorphosis as winter takes a firm grip over the city, bringing cold weather and incredibly short days. But don’t feel bad making runs to the local convenience store in sweatpants and slippers — during the coldest winter days, it takes a lot of motivation and sheer willpower just to leave the house. When not hibernating, Chicago residents can be seen digging their vehicles out from snow drifts and ice, meeting up at corner bars, or even jumping into a frozen Lake Michigan.
With winter officially here, we thought it was only fitting to highlight a few noteworthy Chicago traditions that mark the season. Keep reading and let us know your favorite winter traditions in the comments.
Try to picture hundreds of people clad only in bathing suits running and fully submerging themselves into a frigid Lake Michigan during the coldest period in Chicago. Sound like fun? That’s basically what the Polar Plunge is. Each year towards the end of winter, the event takes place to great fanfare — even sometimes featuring surprise celebrity guests (think Jimmy Fallon and Lady Gaga). And it’s all for a good cause, as proceeds from participant entry dues and their funds raised go to support Special Olympics Chicago.
There’s no local tradition more polarizing than parking dibs. For the uninitiated, the idea is simple: residents claim, or call “dibs” on a street parking space for a few days to upwards of a week (or sometimes longer) after clearing that spot out after a heavy snowfall. When not parked in that space, the dibs participant will place a chair, a traffic cone, or some other item in the spot to signal to others that it has been claimed. Let’s just say some people get particularly creative with the items they use to claim their territory.
One of the greatest things about the holiday season is the wonderment of lighting displays throughout the city’s neighborhoods and cultural attractions. In particular, the ZooLights installation at the Lincoln Park Zoo is a dazzling experience that excites the senses for people of all ages. For over 25 years, the recurring event has been free to the public, showcasing 2.5 million lights throughout the zoo.
Getting into a neighborly spirit
While the jury may be perpetually out on parking dibs, one theme that can be identified as a positive force is that of neighborly camaraderie and unity during cold snaps. We look out for each other during storms and dreaded polar vortex periods. Checking in on neighbors, helping shovel neighbor’s sidewalks, and generally being affable and available towards friends and neighbors is something Chicagoans do. It’s not only a point of pride, but one more reason why Chicago is a great place to call home.