As stay-at-home orders expire across the country, boutiques, restaurants, gyms, and salons have started reopening. While we’ve missed our haircuts and certainly could use a break from cooking, we’re most excited about the chance to get our social life back on track. However with cases spiking in some reopened areas, the question on everyone’s minds is how to get together safely this summer.
Safety first, parties second
After an isolating quarantine and with summer in full force, the urge is stronger than ever to get together with family and friends (or literally anyone we haven’t been confined with for the last 90 days). But just as businesses reopening have implemented new policies and safety procedures, we also have to adjust to a new normal when it comes to socializing.
While your best resource will always be the Center for Disease Control (CDC), to get you started we’ve compiled our own list of hosting tips for socially-distant get togethers, and ideas for safe summer parties you can pull off from six feet apart. Whether you’re hosting a casual pool party or meeting up for happy hour in the park, just remember the most important rule: safety first, parties second.
First, what is social distancing?
By now we all know the drill, right? But as a refresher, the CDC currently recommends limiting face-to-face contact with others by physical distancing—meaning “keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home.” It cites the best way to implement this as “staying at least six feet (about two arms’ length) from other people.” But just because you’re practicing social distancing, doesn’t mean an in-person get together is completely out of the question.
Establish a socially-distant game plan
In order to pull off a safe party, it’s key to put a few social distancing guidelines in place before you send out your invitations. Giving your guests all the information up front on the invitation will let them know what to expect, and make the get together that much more stress-free for everyone involved. Here are the most important rules to keep in mind, as stated by the CDC.
Before the party starts…
Ask guests to stay home if they are sick. While you’d love to have everyone RSVP “yes,” don’t pressure any guests to come that aren’t feeling well or have been exposed to COVID-19 in the past 14 days. If any of your guests are showing COVID-19 symptoms, it’s best to have them play it safe and stay home.
Whenever possible, host outdoors. The park, the beach, your backyard, your partner’s rooftop—if you have access to an outdoor space, host there.
Wear face masks. Even if you can keep a safe distance of six feet, face masks can help guests feel more comfortable socializing. Encourage guests to bring their masks, or consider providing them. Masks are especially helpful if the weather changes and forces you to move indoors.
Set up seating six feet apart. Members of the same household can sit together, but keep six feet of distance for everyone else. Whether it’s tables in the yard, picnic blankets in the park, or lawn chairs in the driveway, make sure you space out seating beforehand so it’s easier for everyone to follow the rules as they arrive.
As your guests arrive…
Skip the welcome hug. Give a welcome wave. While your gut reaction might be to hug your friend or loved one after not seeing them for so long, resist the temptation! Instead of shaking hands or bumping elbows, minimize close contact with a wave or verbal greeting.
Let them know where they can wash their hands. Direct guests on arrival to a designated hand washing area, whether it’s a nearby bathroom or station set up outdoors. If soap and water aren’t available where you’re hosting, provide hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Ask guests to wash their hands when they arrive and before serving or eating food. Swap hand towels for single-use paper towels so guests don’t have to share.
Designate one person to serve the food. The best way to limit the number of people handing food is to pick someone to serve the group. This way multiple people aren’t handing the serving utensils. For sharable items like condiments, spices, and dressings, provide single-use options. If this feels too overwhelming, simply ask guests to bring their own food and drinks.
Limit contact with frequently touched surfaces. Take the lid off of trash cans, so there’s no touching involved. Wipe down tables, surfaces, or shared items if possible between use.
Social distancing activities for adults
Getting together this year might not be as easy as meeting up at a local bar, but there are still plenty of fun and safe ways to hang out and celebrate summer. With or without kids. Preferably, without.
Party by the pool
What’s better than a pool party on a hot summer day? Turn up the music, and set out coolers filled with refreshing drinks. Have guests bring their own towels and a pool float or raft, then spread out in the pool six feet apart. Don’t want to swim? Place outdoor cushions along the pool edge for guests to sit and dip their feet in, with a drink in hand of course.
Unfortunately, social distancing activities for large groups are hard to come by. If your pool is small or you’re worried about having too many guests over, host an all day party or open house. Have groups of friends or each family pick an hour time slot to stop by the pool, or stagger guests’ arrival times to avoid a crowd.
Summer and barbecues go hand in hand, and it’s a great outdoor activity. But this year, skip the potluck. Serve BBQ directly from the grill to avoid too many hands touching the food, and the same goes for the sides too. Serve side dishes you can serve from the grill like corn on the cob, vegetable kabobs, asparagus, garlic bread, or grilled pineapple for dessert.
Try to limit the amount of people hanging out around the grill, or where food is being prepped. Ask them to come up with their plate to the grill one at a time, and provide disposable (and biodegradable) plates and utensils wherever possible.
Picnic in the park
If you don’t have your own outdoor space large enough to host your group, head to the park for an easy picnic. Have guests bring their own blanket and snacks to make sure everyone stays six feet apart. If you’re looking to plan a physical activity, swap high contact sports for those where distance can be maintained like frisbee, croquet, or cornhole. Just make sure to have players wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before touching the equipment.
Outdoor wine tasting
As long as guests bring their own wine glass, a wine tasting is a great social distancing activity. Have each guest bring their favorite bottle to share with the group, and designate one person to pour each round, so they are the only one touching the bottle.
But what’s a wine tasting without cheese? While a giant shared cheese board is off limits, you can serve individually wrapped cheeses found at most grocery stores, and mini baguettes so each guest gets their own.
Social distancing activities for kids
Kids by nature don’t like following the rules. Though it might take extra planning to pull off a safe and kid-friendly event, it can be done—even if playgrounds are still closed in your area. After weeks of virtual Zoom playdates, let your little ones get together with a little creativity and a few simple safety precautions.
Pool party treasure hunt
If your kids are into pirates or mermaids, have them take turns searching for “treasure” at the bottom of the shallow end, or the deep end for older kids. Have everyone bring their own goggles and towels. Use sinkable rings or toys you already have on hand, or pick up an affordable treasure set like this one with shiny coins and faux jewels that will glitter at the bottom of the pool.
Outdoor art party
Sidewalk chalk is one of the best social distancing activities for kids. Draw each mini guest a concrete canvas that’s six feet apart from the others, and have them color inside it. Have parents BYO chalk for the kiddos, and their own lawn chair if they’d like to stay and hang out while the artists are hard at work on their masterpieces.
Neighborhood scavenger hunt
A casual scavenger hunt is another one of our favorite social distancing activities for neighbors, classmates, or playmates. From a plastic flamingo to a bright yellow front door, make a list of things in and around your neighborhood for your little guests to find. Split up into small groups, with at least one adult leading, so everyone can keep their distance. Give out prizes to the first and second teams to find everything on the list.
For little birthdays, plan games where you can space out all the kids in a line six feet apart like “Mother May I?” and “Simon Says,” or queue up a kid-friendly playlist for an outdoor dance party. If guests want to bring gifts, ask that they drop them off 48 hours in advance so the boxes have time to sit outdoors to kill any lingering germs. Then the birthday boy or girl can open them safely, and you’ll have peace of mind too.
Instead of cake, put candles on a cupcake so the birthday boy or girl can blow them out without blowing on everyone else’s dessert. If older guests don’t feel comfortable joining the party, arrange a time for them to drive-by in a “parade” so they can still wish you little one a happy birthday.
Drive-by birthday parade
If you’re not ready to have a bunch of mini guests over to your place yet, host a drive-by birthday parade. Ask guests to drive by at the same time with decorated cars and birthday signs. Have them honk, drop off gifts, or sing “Happy Birthday.” Make it a surprise for your little one for even more fun.
Looking for more virtual and socially-distanced kids’ birthday ideas? Read our guide here.
Online alternatives to IRL social distancing activities
If you have a friend who is immunocompromised, you’re looking for social distancing activities for senior living residents, or part of your group simply doesn’t feel comfortable yet hanging out outside, there’s always virtual parties! Cheers to the weekend, a promotion, or just because with our ideas for a virtual happy hour, or share in some friendly competition with a virtual game night.
If you’re not sure how to plan virtually, read our complete guide here. No matter what invitation you choose, any design can work for a virtual event. Just add a link to your Zoom call or meeting the event’s location field.