Planning your summer event in a post-covid world
Big sigh. COVID 19 hasn’t given up the ghost yet, with infections on the increase this summer and more variants emerging. It seems like just as quickly as people come together in large gatherings and groups, there’s a Covid spike and it’s back to social distancing and masking. It all can be so exhausting and demoralizing. Many of us remain wary of close contact, shared tables (or shared anything) and large gatherings.
The Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, which polls risk behaviors and perceptions about the pandemic across the American public, reports in May 2022 that nearly 66% of all Americans have returned to some sort of pre-pandemic socializing, including going out to dinner or visiting relatives. The poll also finds that most people are more concerned about spreading the virus to people who are at higher risk of serious illness, rather than something happening to them personally. Even though a growing number of people are ready to party, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still suggests intimate, small gatherings as opposed to large ones. All this lingering uncertainty has everyone wondering what’s the best and safest way to entertain post-pandemic in a way that ensures everyone is comfortable and has a good time – hosts included.
We have missed so much over the course of the past two years that Summer 2022 finds us itching to reconnect with family and old friends. The forgotten art of party-planning has become relevant once again as we focus on thoughtful and safe entertainment practices. Some new entertaining styles are gaining prominence while a few old traditions are thankfully disappearing. But one thing remains sure: we’re all ready to celebrate and have people over to our houses (or at least, our patios). So here are a few tips for entertaining with a post-covid twist for connecting while staying as safe as possible and not contributing to spreading the virus:
Smaller is Better
For right now, small is definitely better. Now more than ever people treasure togetherness, so events have become more personal. Small parties feel meaningful, allowing you more time and space to connect and attend to beautiful details which give your party a chance to shine. It also allows for more room to spread out the placement of tables and chairs, with a good rule of thumb being no more than six at a 60” round table or an 8’ rectangular table.
Outdoors in lieu of Indoors
We’ll be putting all that backyard and patio upgrading we’ve been doing during the pandemic to good use, as more people plan for safer and easier entertaining as the pandemic winds down. Outdoor entertaining presents an easy way to minimize lingering concerns about post-pandemic parties, putting everyone at ease and allowing for guests to spread out but still be a part of the party. If you’ve grown weary of your backyard at this point, then make plans to meet at the beach or a park – or find another outdoor venue available for your event like the local farm/farmstand, community garden or vineyard.
Even outdoors, the elegance of plated service is back – and it’s safer for your guests because the food is served directly from kitchen to guest. Gone to the wayside are family style and buffet service, which share serving utensils and do not otherwise address any social distancing concerns your guests may have. And individual plating is not just for salad and the entree – include hors d’oeuvres and dessert as well.
Sanitizing and Safety Precautions
Encourage safety by including individual bottles of hand sanitizer or wipes at each guest’s seat. Provide antibacterial soap and individual paper guest towels in the bathrooms. And although your guests are probably grateful for the opportunity to spend time together, keep in mind that some guests may not feel comfortable hugging or shaking hands.
Vaccination status can be a sticky subject, but it’s important to keep all your guests as safe as you can from the possibility of infection. Be sensitive to those people who may be at risk for serious illness before making a decision about the guest list and whether or not to request that all guests be vaccinated (and boosted). Ask non-vaccinated guests to wear a mask. If it’s the kind of gathering that requires sending out invitations, personalize them to let your invited guest know that it’s okay to say no if they are not quite comfortable in social gatherings yet.