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!”

Plan a Game Night Party

There really isn’t anything more fun than introducing your kids to classic games that you loved when you were a child or getting together your adult friends to indulge in your guilty pleasure!  I don’t know about you but a classic game of Monopoly, Scrabble. Twister, Parcheesi, Candyland or Sorry are more fun and engaging than everyone sitting on the couch focused on their phones, not communicating and self-absorbed.  Who knows, planning a game night with friends and/or family might start a trend of talking and laughing with each other regularly! Here are some ideas to get you started on this new adventure!

Greet your guests with a fun “Move ahead 12 Spaces” sign, laying down directional squares (like a game board) made from colored napkins or construction paper, and brightly colored balloons. As your friends enter the party area, make sure your food table hits them in the face with the fun theme. Make a backdrop from air filled round foil balloons in different colors. Tape them together to resemble a twister game mat. Attach to your wall with Command strips. If you don’t have the budget for balloons use colored paper plates.  Pile up games as risers for glass containers or bowls filled with brightly colored candy. Wrap water bottles with candy dots; add a homemade Monopoly inspired “Water Works” sign. If you are serving sparkling drinks serve them in candy rimmed glasses. To do this dip the rim of each wineglass in melted white chocolate and then press into a saucer filled with confetti sprinkles. Use scrabble tile food signs next to your food’s trays. Serve simple foods that can be taken to game tables and eaten casually during the evening or day (based on the timeline of your event).  Popcorn is an awesome choice, make Domino inspired popcorn bags using white bags and colored card stock. You can find instructions here https://www.hwtm.com/2015/12/game-on-5-easy-creative-ideas-for-game-night/ Make crispy treats, cookies or a cake and decorate with M & M’s. The bright colors and circle design mimic so many board games. Some other heartier food items that tend to be mess free are Miniature Corn Dogs, Miniature Pizza’s, Hero Sandwiches, Taco Dip and Chips, Cheese and Crackers, Pigs in a Blanket or Chicken Fingers.

Making decorations for your game theme party may need a trip to a thrift store. You can make garlands from Uno Cards or Monopoly money. So, not to steal from the game you are using to play with, take a trip to a second hand store and buy up any games you can find to tear apart and use for decorations! Tape game cards on helium balloon ribbons, hang from the ceiling and use as place cards or invitations! Use Poker Chips or gold Coins to scatter on tables like confetti. Fill flower vases with poker chips and place flower stems inside. Wrap paper cups and cutlery packages with playing cards. You can hang game boards from the wall behind game tables or beverage stations.

Create several game stations. Set up games in various corners of the room. Using 3ft or 4ft card tables and chairs (4 at each table) is a perfect setup. If you don’t own these, consider renting them. Divide guests into groups of 4 and let them start a game circle. Set a timer for a specific time (15-30 minutes) and let the fun begin. When the timer rings, guests move to the next station noting who was the winner at each station. After everyone has played all the tables the best 4 people will have a playoff. The champ gets a prize, like a special edition of Monopoly.

Everyone walks away a winner when you reveal the biggest surprise of the party: secret prizes hidden behind the balloons (or paper plates) at the buffet! As you setup your twister backdrop, tape scratch off lottery tickets on the back of each balloon or plate. Then at the end of the party ask each guest to pick one for their prize!

I hope you try this fun party and find you have created new bonds with friends and family! My family always plays board games on holidays but after writing this blog post I think we need to get together more often! God bless!

Moving Away Party

Going Away Party

In this highly mobile society, we all see a lot of friends come and go. The best thing to do when old friends, colleagues or family leave our lives is to throw them a party they’re not likely to forget.

A “moveable feast” or “progressive dinner” is a great theme for a moving away party. Ask three other guests to help host the party by having part of the progressive dinner in their homes, and then divide the evening into quarters. Begin with drinks and hors d’oeuvres at one house, and move on to the next house for soup and salad. Allow plenty of time for everyone to eat their fill, but warn people not to eat too much because there will be two more stops. Go to the third house for the main course, and wrap up the evening at a fourth home with dessert, after-dinner drinks, and coffee. Be sure to plan your feast with three hosts who live near one another so there isn’t too much travel time. Car pool if possible, to keep the party full of energy and to allow friends to continue their conversations. If alcohol is going to be served at any of the stops. Ask your guests to select designated drivers before the party begins – or hire a limousine to transport your guests from house to house. If you know a particular cuisine that will be at the guests of honor new location use this for the theme of the courses. Or mix some of his/her favorite local food with some of the new food at the new location. For the dessert see if you can have a cake made in the shape of the new state/country!

Ask your guests to send or bring some memorable photo from past events-the ski weekend, the camping trip, or the yearly Halloween party-then put the photos in an album, write some funny captions, and present it to the relocating guest during the party. Ask each guest to bring the name, address, and phone number (and a photo, if possible) of someone they know in the guest of honor’s new city. The lucky “mover” will than have several new contacts!

Decorate by making a centerpiece containing items that symbolize the area the guest of honor is moving to. Use a ten-gallon hat for Texas, a variety of cheeses for Wisconsin, or a bowlful of pasta for Italy. Joke gifts are fun too-a rubber worm in an apple for New York City, for example. Make place settings from flags representing the new state or country your guest of honor is moving to, and use the state or country colors for balloons, tables covers and tableware. Look up the Flower that represents the state or country and use it in arrangements for the tables. If your guest of honor’s destination suggests any particular type or piece of music, play it in the background during the party. For example-Zydeco for Louisiana, Western Music for Texas, Show Tunes for New York, Hollywood Movie Themes for California- do some research online for artist and music genre popular in the area. Pick up travel brochures and guide books for the new home area and scatter on the tables for everyone to read.

Give the guest of honor a “survival kit” full of stationery, Cookies, Crossword Books, Coloring Books and Crayons, a mug with a saying about Friendship, Water Bottles, Wet Wipes, Tissues, Tums, Aspirin, Bandages, Gum and notes from their friends and family about how much they will be missed. Add an address book with all the guests addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. Give them a one-year subscription to his/her old newspaper to help ease the transition from one place to another.

“This is your LIFE” Party!

This is Your Life!

Although this party seems only for older adults I have seen this for 13th, 16th and 21st Birthday Parties. It can also be used for honoring achievements (lifetime or not) of people both young and old. Invitations must include a couple pictures of the honored guest along with details. The highlighted area of the party will be a table with photos and mementos through the years. Make a timeline on butcher paper for the wall behind the Memorabilia table. Include world events, personal events, popular music and movies, discoveries, and photos for different years on the line. Set up a photo backdrop area for guests to get their picture taken with the honoree. To model your party after the famous 1950s television show, you will need to set up a stage area with a special seat for your guest of honor and a large curtain to hide your mystery guests. Hide your guests behind the curtain, and, if possible, have a microphone or karaoke machine set up so that everyone can hear what they will say. Then, one at a time, ask them to relate a funny story or experience that they shared with your guest of honor and let your honoree guess who is behind the curtain! As an extra touch, you might choose to softly play music while each mystery guests speak to further enhance the mood. A guaranteed tear jerker! Prepare a video montage of photos and/or video clips of your party honoree and have it playing throughout your event — If you have guests who were unable to make it to the party, you might ask them to videotape themselves giving a greeting or sharing a story or remembrance about your guest of honor to play as a “virtual visit”. At some time during your party, pass around glasses of champagne (or sparkling cider) and propose a toast to your guest of honor. The best menu choices for a This Is Your Life Party are your guest of honor’s favorite foods. Finger foods are also a good choice for a celebration because they allow your guests to mingle while grabbing a bite here and there.

Adults like to play games too!

Why is it we only think of games at children’s parties? Pin the Tail on the Donkey and such are fine but I think adults would like to laugh and carry on too at social gatherings. Here are a few ideas for your next get-together (that don’t include alcohol). Card games are always fun but one unconventional game, that causes constant laughter (by how silly we look), is “Blind Man’s Bluff”. Everyone gets dealt one card, you are not to look at it, and they put it on their forehead facing out so everyone else sees it. Bets are placed based on what cards are showing, the person with the highest card wins. Have a “Scavenger Hunt”. You can find ideas online (try scavenger-hunt-guru.com) and make it in the neighborhood, around the property or trek out to another location. “Charades” is a classic game which one player pantomimes the word or phrase chosen and the others try to guess it. This game can be played in teams and can match a theme you might have for the party (IE. Academy Award party = Actors or Movie names). A challenging and hilarious game is “Pass the Orange”. It is exactly what it says but the Orange is placed under your chin and it has to be passed to the next chin, without the use of hands. You make teams for this and the first team to pass it to all the players and back to the front without dropping it wins. And how about trying to keep a straight face during the “Laughing Game”? Players take turns saying Ha, Ho or Hee, anyone laughing is knocked out. You can have prizes or not, the most important thing is having fun!

The Mingle Game-Let’s Talk!

 

Mingle GameWhen your guests overstay at a party that is certainly a kudos to the host. That means your planning allowed for perfect mingling. When building a traffic pattern use a three-to-one guests-to-seats ratio. Count all the places one could sit; sofas, rented chairs, ottomans, even wide windowsills. Aim for three people for every available perch so you have a good number of folks moving around. Also, consider renting Bistro tables that urge the crowd to stand and converse. Another way to ensure swirl is to keep the Food table and Drinks on opposite sides of the party area. Distribute three or four bowls of munchies (nuts, olives, pretzels etc.) around the room to ease the crush at the hors d’ oeuvres table and encourage guests to spread out. Provide a conversation Kickstarter. You can print conversation cards (find them online) and have them in a jar at the entrance. Ask everyone to pick a few and use them during the evening.