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!”