How to Host a Virtual Dinner Party for the High Holidays

Family eating dinner via video chat

Since March 2020, families everywhere have created new routines, improvised work from home setups, and moved to virtual get togethers and social distancing

With different parts of the world, and different states in North America, opening at different rates, many families will be celebrating the High Holidays a bit differently this year. 

If you're staying close to home but still want the feeling of a big Rosh Hashanah or break-the-fast meal, here are two short guides to host a virtual gathering.

These tips can also be adapted for virtual Shabbat dinners, general get-togethers, or celebrations any time of the year.

Virtual Gathering: Home-Cooked Edition

Want the feel of a home-cooked meal from your own home?

Related: Learn about the Center for Disease Control (CDC)'s guidance around Covid-19 and prepared foods.

With a little bit of online organization and the magic of video chat apps, you can share your staple holiday dishes with nearby friends and family. Just follow these steps: 

1. Assign the Dishes

Who will make the round challah? Or Aunt Lulu’s famous black eyed peas? Where’s the recipe for Safta’s kugel? You can start an email chain, google doc, or use a system like Doodle or Meal Train to assign dishes. Or set up a private Facebook group (and use it for future virtual gatherings) and use the “poll” option – users can add their own additions.

2. Make Individual Packages for Each Family

Use take out containers, zip top bags, or mason jars that can be recycled and used again to portion out an amount of your dish for each household participating in your virtual gathering.

3. Prepare a Drop Off Schedule

If you all live in the same neighborhood, is there one central place where families can drop off individually packaged items and then arrive to do pickups later? Alternatively, elect one person from each household to safely drop off dishes to every other participating family. Don’t forget your masks and sanitizer.

4. Gather (Virtually) to Eat Together

Jump on Zoom, Google Hangouts, or your the video meeting room of your choice to nosh, chat, and toast to a sweet new year all together. 

Virtual Gathering: Delivery Edition

Is your family more spread out? Or are you just tired of cooking? Follow these two steps to enjoy the same meal all together.

1. Find An Online Delivery Service

Harness the magic of the internet and find a cross-national (or global) delivery service to have a favorite meal sent to the entire family. Want matzo ball soup from Brooklyn and knish from Chicago? Services like Goldbelly or iGourmet can make that happen.

2. Organize and Order

Designate one person to order for everyone. Use a virtual payment option like Venmo, PayPal, or CashApp, to pool everyone's money for your order. Then just place your order and relax.

3. Gather Virtually to Eat Together

Repeat the final step from the previous section.


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Visit PJ Library’s Guide for Families Spending More Time at Home