These are crazy times. Normal life vs. Pandemic. How do we celebrate our milestones and still protect each other, our loved ones, and those at the highest risk of complications from COVID-19? Wanting to celebrate the end of high school and the departure for college, we had to get creative and host a social distancing graduation party. Since the next few months include holidays, and birthdays, we thought we would share our tips on what we learned and what we plan to do for the holidays.
So where do you even start when planning a social distancing party?
There are so many variables to consider. Invites? Location? Weather Outlook? Guestlist? Gathering restrictions? Safety? Food and Beverages?
Let’s get started on each of these topics!
Invitation & Guidelines
To send out the invitation, you need to have a date, location and menu planned to alert your guests on what to expect. This was the hardest part. The party WOULD ONLY be outside – and what do we do if the weather was too hot? Thunderstorms? Chilly? After everything we had dealt with so far this year, all we could do was hope the date we picked would cooperate.
The invitation stated it would be an open house, from 1-4pm. We added that snacks, treats, beverages would be served. This let everyone know that a larger meal would not be offered. Not our usual style, but we wanted to be safe, and decided to get creative.
We also placed an insert into each invitation that clearly outlined what to expect at the house:
- Please bring a mask. We have a few if you forget, but please wear one if not sitting in one spot.
- Expect to wash your hands/use hand gel once you arrive!
- Everything will be outside – we will have tents up and chairs scattered around. Dress for the weather.
- Yes, you can use the bathroom inside.
- Bring your lawn chair if you happen to have one.
- We will have single serve food/snacks and drinks and bite size desserts.
- Your health is more important that a party! We can always celebrate another time. IF YOU ARE NOT FEELING WELL, PLEASE STAY HOME. If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or have a fever, runny nose/nasal congestion, loss of taste or smell, cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain – stay home.
Food & Beverages
This was probably the easiest party to plan in the way of food. While we had some fresh fruit to cut up in single serve cups, most food was prepackaged and single serve.
Usually, at large parties, we order a sheet cake to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth. This time we splurged a bit and ordered Nothing Bundt Cakes bite-size bundtinis and had them easily spaced for people to grab.
One-way direction for the snack table, as well as lots of ice for the coolers so the lids could stay open also helped with decreased transmission risks.
Masks & Handwashing Stations
Hand sanitizer at all key entry points (plus the bathroom) was important to ensure everyone used it. Entering the backyard, entering the garage (where the food was stored) and near sitting areas. Any chance for interactions, we set up a station to squash any transmission.
The bathroom had soap, hand sanitizer, and individual paper-towels to avoid drying hands with the same towel. We even had a sign on the light switch saying “Leave the Lights On!” to limit the hands touching the switch!
Celebrate and the Holidays
This might not have been the celebration that was originally planned pre-pandemic, but it is certainly the one you are going to remember. This isn’t a normal year, and our celebrations don’t need to be normal, either.
With the holidays coming up, we will probably keep it even more low key. COVID-19 numbers are surging as we enter the last two months of the year. If we do decide to gather for the holidays, we will plan for strict social distancing leading up to the holiday, testing prior to the event, and simple dessert or individual appetizers.
Since we live in the Chicagoland area, the weather will probably not cooperate (we did skate outside in t-shirts last Dec 26th, so you never know!) so this will be an unusual holiday season. Wanting to celebrate how we usually do will take a back seat to keeping family safe and healthy.
Make your gatherings and holidays safe, special, and one to remember. Here’s hoping we only have to do this one year!