'Houseparty' Is The Next-Best Thing To Having An IRL Girl's Night

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Children at home using mobile phones and tablets
Scary Mommy, HouseParty and Luca Sage/Getty

Connecting with other people is a basic, human need. It doesn’t matter if you are introverted, extroverted, or somewhere in between: We all need a certain dose of human interaction to thrive.

Since we can’t go out and physically see our people right now, we are left to the devices of Zoom meetings, FaceTiming, and actual phone calls if texting isn’t doing it for us. While many are thankful for these options during our lockdown days, we’ve all had our awkward moments while staring at our computer and could use a little more virtual action — or distraction — right now.

While on a Zoom call with a few friends last week, we’d all run out of things to say, but were feeling lonely and didn’t want the party to be over. One of them suggested we play Heads Up, the popular game you can download on your phone which was created by Ellen DeGeneres. It was something we used to do when we could actually gather at each other’s homes over onion dip and cheap wine.

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty

We were pumped and so excited to play — what took us so long to think of this? But the feelings fizzled as soon as we realized we couldn’t see each other’s phones on our screen, and were all squinting so hard we got headaches.

Two days later, I heard of the Houseparty app. Apparently it’s been around since 2016 and has gained popularity lately for obvious reasons. According to my teenagers, all the cool kids have been using it to make this quarantine a lot more bearable … yet, in true uncool-mom fashion, I’d missed the memo. That’s one of the downsides of being a completely clueless, almost 45-year-old with three kids — you miss out on trends and feel like you might have left planet Earth a while ago.

Houseparty lets you have group chats (up to eight people) and sends you a notification when people you know are online. But the best part (I think) is its capability to bring back game night, even when you can’t be in the same room.

All you have to do is download the app, grab your favorite snacks (you don’t even have to worry about sharing), and set up a time to play. There are engaging games to choose from such as Chips and Guac (think Cards Against Humanity), different versions of Heads Up, Quick Draw (which is like Pictionary), as well as different trivia games.

Houseparty has a few key features to be aware of. If you want to peruse the app, but don’t want others to know you’re on, there’s an option to hide your online presence. Just click on the icon, select “Sneak into the house,” and you are free to be there without anyone knowing.

If you’re in a private chat and don’t want anyone else intruding, you can also “lock your room” by hitting the padlock at the bottom of your screen. It’s equivalent to putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door. Outsiders can still request to join (well, this is weird), but you get to decide if you want to let them in … or tell them later that you didn’t see their request and the app must have been glitching. Yeah, that’s totally it. A glitch.

I didn’t say it wouldn’t cause future drama, but hey, this just goes to show you can’t always please everyone even if you are alone in your house for months at a time. It’s nice to know you have options, and you can deal with the backlash later.

You can also turn off the settings completely if you’d like. Let me tell you, that’s the way to go if you’d want to get anything else accomplished. Because Houseparty is just like any other type of social media: addictive as hell, and OMG I should be working but two of my besties are on and I don’t want to be left out so fuck all my responsibilities right now.

Houseparty is what I need in my life at this stage of the quarantine. I mean, it’s still nice to have deep conversations without distractions and games, but lately I need to get my mind off these trying times, let loose, and test out my artistic skills with a nice game of Quick Draw.

Even if I’m alone on my bedroom floor, playing Houseparty has been the most fun I’ve had since COVID-19 hit — and aren’t we all due for a little fun?

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