Post-Isolation Gathering

How is your part of the world healing? Ready to host a party safely during Covid-19 pandemic? 

Is it time to dip your toes into being together again, minus the screen between, that is? Here’s how to host a safe get together when you feel ready.

And you may not be ready yet — I get that! So Pin this for later reference:

Until we have a vaccine readily available, normal will be different. There will be some risks involved in gathering together. But when the time is right for you, here are suggestions to eliminate or modify the parts of our parties that pose the greatest risk; yet still have fun. Let’s talk about how to host a safe get together after sheltering in place for so long.

FRIENDS, PLEASE NOTE: Please excuse the condition of our patio. We’re caught in the middle of renovation. Be on the lookout for a full reveal towards the end of the summer (unfortunately).

Three sets of two chairs and tables on brick patio overlooking lake

Invitations: Eliminate one more piece of mail that is touched by many before it arrives in your guests’ mailboxes. Create a great online invitation. I love using this free tool to make my own and they have lots of free templates to make it easy.

Or you can opt for a text message. But an actual invite, even if it is electronic, makes the gathering feel a bit more special.

Spell out the precautions you are taking and will expect of them. Let your guests know you have concerns and are listening for their concerns.

Now, take it a step further and iterate that you understand if they are not comfortable coming — no pressure! You will still love them and look forward to being together when they are ready.

Guests & Seating: Keep the number small and manageable. It will be determined by your space.

Large dinner table and 6 chairs on brick patio

Map out your party area, preferably outdoors. If there is a large table in this space, move it out for the day. This will give you more space for better flow of conversation and to host your safe get together.

Layout for three couples to get together while maintaining 6 feet social distancing

Plan ahead where can you seat a couple together and then the minimum 6-feet and then seating for an individual or another couple, another 6-feet and repeat. You might only be able to accommodate three or four couples, but that’s okay. It’s a great start.

Two outdoor chairs made comfy with extra pillows and throws and a small table

At each seating unit, provide a small table to hold their beverages, plates, and a pump bottle of hand sanitizer.

And make that utilitarian pump bottle party centric. Using free Canva, I quickly made a label marking the occasion, printed on label paper, cut it out and applied in place of the bottle label.

Two chairs and table with individual snack tray and hand sanitizer to safely get together after sheltering in place

Plump up their seating with pillows you bring out from inside and maybe a light throw if you’ll be enjoying time after the sun goes down.

And speaking of outdoors, have a back-up plan for weather, rain date? move inside?

Food: No buffet tables and communal dining, for sure!!!

closeup of individual snack tray and hand sanitizer for safe get together

The safest, would be to only have snacks. And for the host to deliver a separate snack tray/bowl/plate to each little table. A mini charcuterie board for each? And don’t forget napkins and a hand sanitizer at each little table.

If you insist on a meal, then plan on having everything prepared ahead, with the hosts dishing up and serving to each little table. It would be reassuring to your guests, if they see you using hand sanitizer before you serve. Just a visual reminder that you value them and have their health and safety in the forefront.

tub of individual bottles of flavored waters for safe get together

Beverages: Best is BYOB in the guests’ own cold bags. Hosts can also distribute individual disposable bottles or cans that have been floating in an ice tub. Have hand towels close by to wipe them down as you deliver to each guest.

Music: A fun playlist is a must! Check out Rita Wilson’s “Quarantunes” on Spotify, or any of the numerous other options. The music is there for background and perhaps a bit of sing-along, NOT dancing. Be thoughtful with speaker placement and volume. This first gathering is about reconnecting and with a bit of distance between, so don’t let the speaker in the corner blast out the conversation for the couple assigned to that corner.

Masks: There seem to be two camps on this. I’m in the Mask camp.

To host a safe get together, I would ask all guests to bring their masks and expect to wear them when they arrive and are up and moving about. Realistically, there will not always be a strict 6-foot separation when they are heading to the restroom, arriving and departing.

When everyone is seated and the talking, laughing, singing ensue, it would be reasonable that we can all be happily mask free. It’s not 100% safe, but it’s not completely throwing caution to the wind. For me, this is reasonable. But you must decide what is right for you.

Restroom: Be sure to have nice disposable hand towels in place of traditional terry towels. Have a dispenser of disinfecting wipes on the counter with a friendly request that they wipe off everything they touch, in particular the door knobs, light switch, counter, faucets, toilet handle, seat, etc.

Party Gifts: Party gifts or favors are typically for kids parties, or large weddings or showers, which is NOT what this post is about. But if yours is a gal pal gathering and you want to spoil them. By all means, but safely.

Linen gift bag with chalk cloth label and flower clothespin closure

Fill preferably cloth bags at least 24 hours ahead, wiping down the hard surface of anything going in or on the bags. Then place them in a tray with plenty of air around them and let any potential virus die off naturally. Fabric seems to be the safest surface to not spread the virus.

Check out here and here for styling these bags.

Before your guests arrive, with sanitized hands of course, place a bag at each little table along with their snacks and sanitizer.

Activities: You probably don’t need much since you haven’t seen each other in a while and it’s all about catching up.

That said, if you need something to break the ice or if your crowd is a game crowd, there are lots of options. How about old school charades, with a tech twist? Use an automatic word generator and timer, such as this one.

A Family Friendly Option for Hosting a Safe Get Together:

Movie Night!

Guests: If you want to get a couple of families together, choose those that you know will respect the boundaries.

Outdoor movie setup between trees
source: thisminimalhouse.com

Activity: Set up a movie night on the driveway or in the backyard. This family knows how to do it!

Seating: Beforehand, mark the corners of each family’s space with chalk on a driveway or glow sticks on the yard, assuring that 6-foot boundary. Each family brings their own blankets and yard chairs to be placed where you indicated. A blanket helps the kids remember where they need to stay.

Snacks & beverages: Each family brings their own cooler of beverages and snacks and bug spray.

And for a touch of nostalgia, supplement with a tray of boxed Cracker Jacks stadium style! Wearing your mask, you could “sell your wares” between family clusters ceremoniously wiping each box before tossing to the eager waiting hands. Did you know these are 3/$1 at the various Dollar stores?/

Tray of movie snack boxes and sanitizing wipes for safe get together movie night

Or movie candy works too.

What to Show: I’d love a montage of Pixar shorts, mixed with old Road Runner and Marvin the Martian classics. And between these mini features, you could invite an individual or a family unit to perform shadow puppets in front of the projector. But you know your audience. Cater the showing to them.

Restroom: Ditto on the note above!

Patio set-up to host a safe get together after sheltering in place

Keep it simple, but full of thoughtful touches that are put together as far ahead as possible. Then you can relax and enjoy time with your friends and family in person.

 

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