Safer Small Gatherings

Although the vaccine for COVID-19 has become available, it is still a genuine disease, and any social gathering should be considered a breeding ground for exposure. So, take these critical steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.

HOSTING A SMALL GATHERING

Check the COVID-19 infection rates in areas where guests live to consider whether it is safe to hold or attend a gathering. If you choose to have guests at your home, make sure that everyone follows the steps to make assemblies safer. Here are tips to help you make your get-together safer:

  • Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for a safe gathering.
  • Limit the number of guests to allow people to remain at least 6 feet apart.
  • Host outdoor gatherings when possible with family and friends who live in your community.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
  • Keep background music volume low, so guests don’t need to shout.
  • Avoid activities that will involve shouting, cheering loudly, or singing. Clap, stomp your feet or bring (or provide) hand-held noisemakers instead.
  • Cancel your gathering if you or someone who lives with you is sick or has been near someone who thinks they have or has COVID-19.
  • FOLLOW OTHER GUIDELINES LISTED BELOW…

WEAR MASKS

  • Wear a mask with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect yourself and others.
  • Wear your mask over your nose and mouth, secure it under your chin, and make sure it fits snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Masks should be worn indoors and outdoors except when eating or drinking.
  • As the Host of an event, make sure you have extra masks available. Set up a Welcome Basket for people as they enter the party area and include masks, mini hand sanitizer bottles, and individually packed hand wipes.

STAY AT LEAST 6FT AWAY FROM PEOPLE WHO DO NOT LIVE WITH YOU

  • You are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others.
  • Remember that people without symptoms or with a recent negative test result can still spread COVID-19 to others.
  • Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household.
  • As the Host of your party, you will need to use your organizational skills to protect your loved ones. Set up tables with families in mind. Use place markers to seat people that live together at the same table. You may have to rent an assortment of table types for different sized groups.

AVOID CROWDED, POORLY VENTILATED INDOOR SPACES

  • Avoid crowds and indoor spaces that do not offer fresh air from the outdoors. If indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible.
  • With Spring upon us, what better time to take the party outdoors. It is safer and offers plenty of room for people to move around.
  • If the wind is a problem on your party day, purchase Kwik-fit or Stay-put plastic fitted table covers for your tables. If using linens, choose to the ground sizes.

WASH YOUR HANDS

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and before eating.
    • Make sure to dry your hands thoroughly using a clean towel or by air drying.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • If hosting an event, you can set up sanitizing and/or handwashing stations. Make sure to supply plenty of paper towels in the bathrooms and at your stations.

PLANNING FOR FOOD AND DRINKS

There is no evidence that handling or eating food spreads COVID-19, but it is always important to follow food safety practices.

  • Encourage guests to bring food and drinks for their household.
  • Limit people going in and out of the food preparation areas.
  • Have one person serve all the food.
  • Use single-use options, like salad dressings, food containers, plates and utensils, and condiments.
  • Limit crowding in areas where food is served.
  • Offer no-touch trash cans for guests to throw away food items easily.
  • Wash dishes in the dishwasher or with hot soapy water immediately following the gathering.

I know that everyone is missing each other deeply. Making an effort to follow safety guidelines will allow us to finally spend some quality time with our friends and loved ones. Take care and be safe! Please make sure you get your vaccine. Our entire household is vaccinated now and very thankful!

God Bless

Covid-19 Indoor Camping Trip

Your summer plans are likely in a bit of disarray due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You may be rethinking plans to send your children to summer camp or your camps may be cancelled altogether. No need to worry! Check out these great ideas for an “Indoor Camping Trip”!

The first part of this adventure is to set up a tent. Move large pieces of furniture out of the way so you have a nice sized area to create your campsite. If you don’t have a real tent you can use sheets or blankets to make a canopy. You can get some great instruction for constructing temporary tents here https://www.wikihow.com/Create-an-Indoor-Tent  If you have sleeping bags put them under the tent. Or you can pile up pillows and blankets. Anything comfortable.

Bonfires aren’t very transferable to indoor camping parties (unless you don’t mind burning your house down) but this is a really easy way to make a safe, indoor campfire using some old toilet paper rolls. Paint the tubes different shades of brown. You can make them look like wood with light colored stripes.  Arrange them like a camp fire and tuck in some red, yellow and orange tissue paper. You can use some tissue shred as well. Cut red and yellow shiny card stock for flames. Pop a few LED candles in the middle. LED candles are battery powered and much, much safer than a real flame and won’t cause a fire if they’re knocked over. They shine pretty brightly too so you could create a bit of atmosphere by turning off the lights and eating in the light of your fake bonfire!

Stringing mini Christmas lights around the area can mimic a starry night sky. If you have some camp chairs bring them down from the attic and place them around the campfire. If your kids have large stuffed animals bring them to the party too. Place the creatures around the area to be your forest friends. Look for a CD of nature sounds and play that in the background. They can be found online or at Barnes & Noble. Also check a used book store. Grab a bunch of small flashlights for everyone to have. They will be great tools for storytelling and games. Stock up on some glow necklaces and bracelets for fun in the dark.

Now it is time to stock up on tasty camping food! An indoor camping party means you can really go to town on themed food! Think about all the things you’d eat if you were going on a real camping trip and simply recreate them! Here are a few ideas to get you started: Hot dogs or burgers. Sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly is my favorite!), one pot meals like stew or mac and cheese or any finger type food and/or trail mixes. And it wouldn’t be a real camping experience without Smores! You can easily make indoor smores and they literally take about 30 seconds and are so yummy!  You can use standard ingredients, add peanut butter, use Nutella, or substitute a chocolate bar of your choice. Cut the graham cracker in half and add a big marshmallow on top- pop in micro for 15 seconds.  Add your chocolate bar of choice and micro for 5-10 more seconds. Top with the other half of the graham cracker and voila! One little slice of heaven on a plate. Don’t forget breakfast treats the next morning. Pancakes and bacon – Yumm!

Hopefully you can convince your kids that you can have fun without the internet. Make a rule – NO PHONES – for this camping trip. Sit around your faux bonfire and sing camp songs. You can find the lyrics and guitar chords to some of the classics here https://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com/camp-songs.html#.XvT8IyhKjIU If you are unsure of the melody check on YouTube beforehand. Make sure you print out the lyrics so no one is staring at a cell phone screen.

Play cards games. My favorite game to play on our yearly camping trip was Cribbage but if the kids are to young for this game there is always Uno, Fish or Old Maid. An unusual card game that the kids will adore is “Blind Man’s Bluff”. The standard version is simply high card wins. Each player is dealt one card from a standard deck and they display it to all other players (traditionally stuck to the forehead facing outwards- supposedly like an Indian feather). This is followed by a round of betting. Players attempt to guess if they have the highest card based on the distribution of visible cards and how other players are betting. Not to get cash involved, bet with jelly beans or candy bars. Art and craft projects are always fun and keep kids entertained. Rock painting has become very popular and people love leaving them in public places for others to find. Set up a craft table and find smooth river rocks. Have paint supplies handy for the rocks and maybe some other projects like popsicle stick frames and tin can pencil holders.

Next, I remember so well how scary stories around the campfire was the highlight of the night! A good resource for some of the most memorable stories is here https://www.bustle.com/articles/191893-10-spooky-campfire-stories-to-tell-your-friends-in-the-dark. Again, print them out so you keep the no phone rule. Reading a book to the group is another way to enjoy your campout. Chose some kid friendly books like Don’t Feed the Bear by Kathleen Doherty, Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping by Melanie Watt or Mouse Scouts: Campout by Sarah Dillard. Maybe you can have an older child read to the little ones.

Now that you know how, lets get to camping! Stay safe and wash your hands!

Covid-19 Event & Party Guide

Covid-19 Party Collage

It’s graduation season, wedding season – and Father’s Day is coming up. And birthdays keep coming—last week I supplied balloons for a birthday “parade”. They all drove past the kid’s house honking their horns. I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled… actually they probably were. Anything to break up the monotony.

You can still have that bachelorette party – and all your other events, and they don’t have to be boring. You are your biggest hurdle – think creatively! Try to think about ways people can still have fun at a social distance. And put in place some important safety measures. Here are some ideas.

I would first start by not thinking of it as a pandemic celebration – that feels so anti-celebratory! You’re creating a celebration, a gathering, or an event that happens to be during our “temporary new normal”.

In-person events are going to be a challenge, but can be achieved. As the host I know you have the right intentions, but haven’t been prepared for the attendees’ mindset around coming together in person. You need to realize that the attendance may be much lower than you anticipate, because your guests might not be prepared to gather in person, after being separated for so long. Lack of attendance is not a personal reflection on you, just a normal human reaction. Perhaps you should consider a hybrid event between live and streaming?

Keeping guests down to a smaller group is the first thing that must be followed. When setting up tables and chairs for your friends and family lessen the settings per table. A 60” round table or an 8ft. banquet table usually seats 8 people per. Spread the chairs apart to seat a maximum of 4 to 6. If you want to place 8 chairs at a table, fill a few seats with large stuffed animal friends to bring some joy to the process. If placing only chairs around the party area make sure they are 4ft to 6ft apart. If someone wants to get closer it is on them to move. You have done your due diligence. Make sure all the tables and chairs have been sanitized properly before guests arrive. Rigorous cleaning of the other areas of your home or venue should be done too. Wipe down with appropriate disinfectant agents. Remember door knobs, hand rails, bathrooms and counters. When setting your tables supply hand sanitizer on each table and perhaps some baby wipes.

For the health of yourself and your attendees conduct temperature screenings as they arrive. You can purchase a no touch forehead thermal thermometer for around $30. Individuals with temperatures higher than 100 F should be gently asked to leave. Make face masks available for everyone, if they feel unwell. Implement a “No Hand-Shake” policy at your party. Use fist bumps, “ebola” elbow bumps, virtual hugs, air waves and hellos, and other mechanisms to replace the handshake during the crisis. You can supply people with small pom-poms for hello waves. Wash all hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after any eating, blowing of the nose, coughing, sneezing, and using the bathroom.

Safety measures for food preparation can be difficult. It is suggested if you have a buffet setting that you need to have splash guards and sneeze guards. Since this isn’t something readily available in a home environment you might think about getting individual box lunches/meals delivered or pick them up. You can do this on your own by wrapping sandwiches and placing salads in inexpensive plastic containers. Cookies and other snacks can be purchased in individually wrapped packages. You can also buy individually wrapped plastic cutlery at Walmart or a restaurant supply. Drinks can be served by the can or bottle. Make sure you place hand sanitation devises near the meal station. Some folks may not have been able to get into the bathroom to wash their hands. Just try to be on the safe side.

Setting up an area to carry on a Virtual Party for the people who could not attend will help include everyone. The right chat platform will be different for different groups. I like Zoom because it’s user friendly and it’s easy to send invitations to anyone. The drawback to Zoom, though, is that the free version will only allow for a 40-minute group meeting. Google Hangouts, Facebook, and Skype are all viable options, and there are many more. Choose whichever platform your family and friends are most familiar with or like best. Be sure to give your virtual people instruction on how to use the service you choose, especially the older folks.

Designate one of the younger “geekyer” family members to monitor the Virtual station. They can give the networked guests a blow by blow description of what is going on. They can guide everyone at your event to make sure they stop and visit the electronic invitees. Decorate the Virtual area with balloons and streamers to make it stand out. You can also hook up to a flat screen television to make a bigger impact.

I trust these ideas will help you begin to get back to a place where we can all be together again! “And Party!”

Coronavirus Drive-by Parties & More

Because of the recent orders for Social Distancing we have had to come up with innovative ideas to keep peoples spirits up for Birthdays, Anniversaries and quite possible the upcoming Graduations. All over the county, birthdays for young and old are being celebrated instead with drive-by caravans/parades of honking, decorated cars. From 8-year-olds to 80-year-olds caravans tickle the fancy of the birthday people!

Balloons are a great way to mark the location of the guest of honor along with decorating the vehicles. Large foil numbers can be used for the age or letters can spell out a name. Tie clusters of latex balloons to mirrors, luggage racks or bumpers. Make large bows or puff balls (check our blog for directions on how to make your own!) and tie to door handles and front grills. Custom make signs on poster board and attach to the side of the auto.  Some people may hand gifts out the windows but a safer way is to give gifts virtually. Wish list can be set up on Amazon. Email details to friends and family. If you know anyone who can bring a fire truck or police car by, go for it. Make sure they honk the horn and have lights flashing!

It looks like Graduations this year will be impacted by the Stay-at-Home orders too. Along with the cancellation of Senior Grad Nights and Commencement Ceremonies the Class of 2020 will have a lot to remember; NO OTHER class will have this Pandemic in their memory books. Celebrate at home with a meeting online with family and friends via Zoom. Be sure to decorate the area with balloons, banners and streamers so the graduate has a great background to show everyone. If you have a drive-by event guests can use large 2020 foil numbers to decorate the vehicle along with balloons, banners and bows in school colors. Decorate your yard with 2020 Graduation decorations. Place photos of the graduate on stakes showing them through the years. Your drive-by visitors will enjoy this! You can find a Drive-by Graduation Invitation here https://tidylady.net/collections/drive-by-birthday-parade-invitations/products/drive-by-graduation-parade-invitation-779801514

Whatever you do stay safe and alive. God Bless us all! If you need balloons we are here to be of help. Out of the Denton area? Call me I can ship anywhere!