Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Friend Group Wants To Start Having Virtual Parties

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I like to host parties at our home. Nothing fancy, but we do have people over almost every weekend in the cold-weather months. In the warm-weather months, we host barbecues in our backyard. Our friends do the same, so it always seems like we are at somebody’s house swapping stories and having a good time. We are devastated that we can’t get together now. One of my friends suggested that we try creating virtual parties. I don’t have the foggiest idea how to do that. Do you have any ideas? -- Virtual Party Planning

DEAR VIRTUAL PARTY PLANNING: Yes, this is a growing trend -- a perfect match between our desire for social interaction and the use of modern technology. A popular way of doing this is by using the Zoom app, which allows you to invite multiple people to join you for a video chat so that you can talk and interact while having individual cocktails and snacks at your own home.

To set this up, you have to download the app. It can be Zoom or another such app. You then create an email invitation to your friends explaining that you want to host a virtual cocktail party. Send them the link you set up as the host. Then they simply sign in at the day and time. You can take turns hosting these virtual events as long as everybody signs up. The service is free for a limited time period. For a nominal fee, you can stay connected indefinitely.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I want to figure out a way to stay upbeat during this period of isolation. I am so worried about how to take care of my family and myself right now. It’s crazy. I still have my job -- thank God -- but who knows how long that will last? Sitting at home worrying is just making me more paranoid. I’m normally a happy person, but I seem to be falling into an emotional pit. What can I do? -- Depressed

DEAR DEPRESSED: Being isolated from other people and not knowing how you will be able to earn money are reasons for most people to become worried and filled with fear. You have a choice as to how to act during this time. Every day you can wake up and claim the positive. Choose something to focus your attention on that is uplifting. It could be an at-home project that you have not been able to get to. It could be making a list of people you love with whom you have not been in touch, and calling one each day to extend your love. What about getting up and exercising to get your blood flowing and your spirits uplifted?

You may not find success with these options. Some people do slip into depression during tough times. If you feel concerned that you may be in this category, reach out for help. You can speak to a professional over the phone if ever you are feeling the need by calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline -- a service available for people suffering emotional stress or suicidal thoughts. Go to or call 1-800-273-8255.

You can also learn more about anxiety during the time of coronavirus through this link:

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)