After more than a year of observing social distancing protocols, many people are very excited to being face to face with their friends and family again. With the wider availability of vaccines and a decreasing number of COVID-19 infections, socializing can now be done safely. However, some people are still concerned about the risks of being in close contact with other people. So if you are planning to host a get-together, preparations will need more than just choosing the best caterer or appropriate music. You need to make sure everyone at the party will be comfortable and have a great time.
Aside from entertaining your guests, one of the concerns you need to address is everyone’s safety. You need to remember that each person will have a different experience of the pandemic. Some people may be excited to reconnect while others may need to get used to being around other people again. The best thing you can do now is to create a safe space where you can all gather. Whether you will celebrate indoors or outdoors, it’s vital to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines for events to maintain a safe and healthy environment.
- Create a spacious party space. Make sure your guests are not crowded at their tables. Leave some extra spaces between seats and settings. For a 60-inch round or an eight-foot rectangular table, keep the group to no more than six people, while having about 10 to 12 feet distance between the tables.
- Keep everyone safe, including the staff. For medium-sized indoor gatherings, ask the staff and guests to keep their masks on when interacting with other people.
- Ensure proper ventilation. If you will hold a party indoors, make sure you can open some windows or doors to increase the circulation of outside air.
- Plan separate entrance and exit points. People will feel safer if they won’t need to crowd their way in or out. If your venue permits it, have multiple entryways and exits.
- Make sure your guests and staff can access the restrooms safely. Washing your hands with soap and water is still the best way to avoid spreading the virus. You can also put small bottles of hand sanitizing gels in your guests’ goody bags or at each place setting for seated dining events.
- Maintain physical distance in food service areas. Limit food or beverage service areas where people will more likely congregate. You can also have multiple areas where guests can get their food or opt for plated meals. As an additional safety precaution, you can use disposable food service items like utensils and dishes. If this is not feasible or desirable, make sure the servers are wearing gloves.
Consider Your Guests’ Needs
You need to be open to the idea that some of your invitees will have reservations about confirming attendance. In your invitations, make the effort to inform your party guests that you’ve made post-pandemic concessions. It may be useful to specify these arrangements in your invitation so that their safety concerns can be addressed. You may also want to place a note saying that you would understand if they decline. Though not everyone is ready for some post-pandemic entertaining just yet, the invitation recipients may appreciate being remembered.
Many people prefer an intimate gathering to allow for socialization within a small and select group of guests. With a smaller guest list, you can splurge a bit for the occasion and arrange a plated meal service to minimize handling dining items.
Aside from the safety concerns, you also need to be considerate of your guests’ preferences. Be sure to offer non-alcoholic beverages for people who do not drink. This can be a great way to show your support to someone who wants to stay sober as well as sharing words of encouragement for sobriety with them. This will ensure that everyone you invite will have an enjoyable time.
Many states are relaxing guidelines for mask-wearing. Fully-vaccinated people no longer have to wear their masks while participating in small gatherings outdoors. As a host, you might want to plan for an alfresco event so that guests remain in a well-ventilated area. You can put up a large tent to shield guests from the elements and put strings of lights to heighten the festive mood.
Invite friends to a barbeque for a more casual gathering, or set up a screen and projector in your backyard for a family movie night under the stars. Being outdoors shouldn’t limit you to backyards and courtyards though. You can set your event at a local flower farm so guests can enjoy being surrounded by nature.
Post-pandemic parties will be very different but they can still be enjoyable. Many people now prefer outdoor intimate gatherings, so they can maximize the space and time with their loved ones. If you plan on throwing a party, you might want to celebrate milestones this way. It is also a great way to make your guests feel at ease. As long as you keep everyone’s safety and comfort in mind, you’ll have a wonderful event.
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