Zoom and Houseparty. How to Use Those Video Conference Apps

I now know the true definition of the term “cracking up”. I’m doing it now, as I’m sure are many Scoop readers. In a conversation with girlfriends, I started laughing at something that was definitely funny, not hilarious, and found that I couldn’t stop. Cracking up, verb: my current mental state in the age of social distancing amid COVID-19.

Use these tools to help fill the cracks you’re experiencing in your social life and subsequent mental health. Zoom, HouseParty, FaceTime, and other video conference platforms that have been used lightly in the past for things like book clubs, happy hours, theme parties (hello old prom dresses in need of dusting off), or even a remote game night are having a moment. Some church groups have long been part of the virtual movement with streaming worship services- and if you’ve never gone to church from your couch with your favorite mug full of hot coffee before, what a perfect time to try it out. There are even remote Bible studies being offered like this one.

You can visit far away places, famous museums, cuddly (and not so cuddly) animals, and stunning national parks all from the comfort and safety of your home. Appropriate attire and other usual social niceties are optional- rejoice my fellow cozy-loving friends.

Here’s a brief tutorial on how to use two of the most popular and user friendly:


Having been used predominantly for video conferencing for business in the past, Zoom has seen an explosion on its original use case as are trying to stay social while staying home. In addition to taking classes via zoom, people are using it for:

  • Business
  • School
  • Learn at Home / How To
  • Happy Hours
  • Birthday Parties
  • Bible Study
  • Book Clubs
  • Art Shows
  • Blind Dates (!)
  • Trivia Night
  • Truth or Dare
  • Charades
  • Drinking Games / Never Have I Ever
  • D&D
  • More Fun Games Here

Here’s how you use it for whatever gathering you’re in on:

Available on your mobile device, tablet, or laptop, first download the app, then launch. If you’re not hosting the meeting, no need to join Zoom (although there’s not downside to joining either).

You jump right into your scheduled meeting on this screen:

You’ll then be asked to input a meeting ID provided by the host. If you still need help, head here for Zoom’s COVID-19 support page.

If you sign in, here’s what you’ll see:

Start a new meeting and invite your friends using your own meeting ID, join an existing meeting, or schedule a future meeting here.


Developed by the folks that brought your teenager (and some husbands/boyfriends) Fortnite, don’t hold that against them. This app allows you to play games or just video chat with up to 8 friends in your own virtual house party. Here’s how:

When you signup and open the app, this is the first page you’ll see. Scroll though your suggested friends to add them to your Houseparty contacts. You can “pass a note” (send a chat), “wave” (the old Facebook equivalent of poking), or start a video call with anyone on your Houseparty contact list.

Here, you can manage your party’s privacy by locking it with the middle padlock icon or record a Facemail (video voicemail) in the options on the far left.

Until we can do it in person again, happy remote book club/happy hour/game night!


Nicole Brantley
Nicole is a native Charlottean that loves the Queen City almost as much as running, writing, and type-A organization.