Our country is opening up and, in many places, (like here in Atlanta) it feels almost back to normal. People are eager to get together and plan celebrations! This month of May offers many opportunities. There are so many reasons to get together: Beginning with the Kentucky Derby and ending with Memorial Day. While it is tempting to dive in and plan these celebratory parties, we still need to take the global pandemic into account for we are quite out of the woods.
It is true that many of us have been vaccinated and that the United States is beginning to recover, I believe we must continue to be vigilant and follow the current CDC guidelines when planning our celebrations. How do we indulge the desire to be social once again and stay safe in our almost post-covid world? I have some tips.
Here are my tips to plan celebrations in almost post-covid times:
Select an outdoor venue
Plan to have your event outside. Many places have awnings or covered terraces. Maybe your home has a screened in sunroom, deck, or porch. A place that has outdoor ventilation brings in fresh air. The CDC is telling us now that if you are vaccinated you do not need to wear a mask outside. So, plan your party in a place that can be mostly outside to be safe. And so that your vaccinated guests do not have to wear masks.
Plan your menu thoughtfully
Avoid appetizers like chips and dip where many hands reach into the same bowl unless you provide small individual bowls prefilled with chips and dip for people to grab and go. You could do the same thing with carrot or celery sticks.
Think about serving individual plates with a small selection of appetizers.
Provide easy to use (and plenty of them) serving utensils so that no one is tempted to just help themselves using their fingers from the platter of food.
Bundle fork and knife sets and then wrap them in napkins in advance and have plenty of extras just in case someone drops theirs on the ground.
Have pre-filled individual plates of the dessert. If the celebration involves a birthday cake and candles bring the cake to a spot away from the guests so that the birthday person can blow out the candles without sending air towards the other guests. Then have one person cut and distribute the cake.
The more you can avoid the handling of food the safer it will be.
As much as we want to hug our friends, it’s probably best to resist that urge for a little while longer.
Send an email to your guests with your suggestions of greetings to let them know whether or not you are comfortable with shaking hands or sharing hugs.
Another suggestion is to ask your guests to wash their hand upon arriving at the party or to use hand sanitizer upon entering the party if a sink is not readily available.
Have plenty of hand sanitizer on hand and distributed around the venue.
I love this sanitizer from L’Occitane as it is not drying and it smells good!
Space the tables
If you have the room, space tables a little more widely than you might otherwise so there is room for the air to circulate and so that people are not squashed together.
It has been so long, more than a year, since we have been able to gather for special (and even not so special) celebrations. Keep safety in mind as you plan your celebration so that you don’t put yourself or your guests at risk. While we want to enjoy the parties and gather with family and friends let’s not throw caution to the winds. We can gather together, and enjoy each other’s company safely so that we don’t ever have to be isolated again. Use my tips to plan your safe and fun-filled May celebrations.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC. Contact Diane for a complimentary phone consultation.
It feels so good to know that we’ll be able to have some small “safe” gatherings with family and friends. With the CDC loosening mask restrictions it seems like we have entered a whole new pandemic phase. It’s almost as if things are close to normal.
I took a walk this week without my mask on. Few people were around. It felt like I went outside naked. An odd feeling. But I quickly got used to the new found “facial freedom.”
The protocols you described are very much like how we handled our daughter’s wedding we had last October at our house.guests were very respectful and everyone stayed safe.
Thank you, Linda. I am so looking forward to lots of gatherings with friends and family sprinkled throughout the summer season.
I love all these tips and can’t wait to entertain again! It was the thing I would do at least 3-4 times a year. I love wrapping the napkins and adding a cut ribbon to keep them closed. I found that you can easily do this with larger paper napkins. The smaller ones (everyday napkins) will not cover the ends of the forks and knives.
Thank you, Sabrina. I love entertaining also and can’t wait to be doing so again.
I think that is such a great suggestion to have food already portioned out into little cups or on small plates so people don’t need to help themselves to a communal dish. It takes a bit more time up front, but it makes serving so simple. It doesn’t have to cost more either, because you can still prepare the big dish, and then just section it out. I saw someone recommend putting ice cream into plastic cups and then freezing them in the cups, and I thought that would make serving ice cream so much quicker during the party!
What a great idea! I also like making cupcakes in ice cream cones. Little ideas like this can make a big difference!
I’ve already started planning/attending some safe gatherings the last month or so. It’s been really nice to ease into some normal social activity. Great post!
Thank you, Melanie! It’s so nice to be able to gather with friends and family!
I am excited too for several upcoming family gatherings. So far, ours will be outdoors. I’m pretty sure everyone attending will have been vaccinated, so that’s a level of comfort right there. I like your idea of having sanitizers outside as well.
We will have a very small family gathering indoors, in June, when my grandson is born. Most definitely masks will be mandatory, because of the newborn. Only those fully vaccinated will attend. We’re being so extra careful.
We ate outside this weekend for the first time in a year. Though I always loved going out for lunch or dinner, I’ve really enjoyed cooking at home.
My only issue with the CDC guidelines is that it keeps changing.
Exactly! The CDC guidelines seem to change with the direction of the wind. Here’s to favorable breezes!
We are still very weary of socializing. In Ontario, we are in our third lockdown but I don’t really have an issue with it. I would rather be safe than sorry. You have some great tips on outdoor party planning that I hope to be able to use this summer!
Thank you, Margarita. I hope things continue to improve in Ontario and that you get to use these outdoor party planning tips!
I’m still cautious about getting together with people but the way you covered all the bases here is super reassuring, Diane. Great details, I can picture how it could work now! Thanks for helping me ease into it again.
Thanks, Lucy! Easing into socializing safely and respectfully of all that we have gone through is the way to go!
Thank you for writing such a wise, sensible, reasonable post, Diane. Of course we all want to celebrate, but what makes us grownups is that we know how to temper fun with wisdom!
As much as I love making birthday candle wishes, I’ve always felt a little “oogy” about the idea of people blowing out the candles on a cake OTHER PEOPLE ARE ABOUT TO EAT. My solution? Either cut the birthday-person’s cake slice and put the candle there, or make a birthday cupcake in which to put the candle!
And I’m still all about jazz hands. I’m a hugger (but I know lots of people, even pre-pandemic, are and were not), and having an official greeting method — jazz hands, elbow bumps, or that weird backward ankle-hooking thing (except, maybe not for grandma?) — makes for a much better idea.
Love jazz hands, Julie! I agree having a cupcake with a candle is a better idea than blowing out candles on a cake others are about to eat!