6 simple yet important tips to ease your anxiety hosting a socially distant BBQ
Do you miss going out to bars and restaurants? Happy Hours and grabbing drinks with friends? The summertime sadness is real in 2020. Traveling, festivals, concerts, waterparks, and most of our warm weather go-to's are canceled. We sure feel bummed about the limitation on socializing, connecting, and interacting with people too. The good news is, outdoor gatherings and "mini" backyard parties such as barbecues are a great way to socialize responsibly and safely.
We provided 6 tips on how you can prepare and carefully entertain at your backyard during COVID-19 because we know how much you value get-togethers with your friends and family.
It will take some careful planning, a few extra supplies, and a little creativity, so we’ve scoured the internet and gathered some of the best tips and tricks for pulling off a socially distant (but memorable) backyard barbecue.
Above all, make it clear from the beginning that safety is the top priority and good times for all are a close second. Following recommended safety guidelines is a must, and you should take a look at the number of cases in your area as you invite friends, plan, and get ready for your outdoor happy hour. Anyone not feeling well should stay home, and if a guest should start feeling ill during the party, they need to go home immediately. A contactless infrared body temperature checker like this one may come in handy.
1. VIPs only, and keep it low key
Even if your local guidelines allow for 10 or more people to gather, keep the size of your outdoor space in mind. How many people will fit comfortably with a 6-foot cushion between them? Limit your guests to a few. According to several studies cited in this New York Times article, loud talking and heavy breathing have been shown to spread particles “potentially more infectious than the larger droplets we expel during a cough or a sneeze...”. Might want to consider skipping the karaoke and close dancing this time.
2. Practice safe sipping
You’ll want your guests to keep their masks on as much as possible. Straws make it much easier to sip safely, so have plenty on hand and keep them near the coolers. Several companies have designed facewear with flaps, zippers, and slits to simplify social drinking during the pandemic, like the TasteMask™ by Crook & Marker or Shut Your Mouth. Buy a couple of these for your guests, and splurge on an Ellen Macomber mask for yourself!
To avoid spreading germs, avoid big-batch drinks, punch bowls, pitchers, and kegs. It’s not so much about the liquid itself, but the containers that get passed around. Keep it single-serving and stick to beer, wine coolers, hard seltzer, etc.
3. Put the patio umbrellas away
Studies from the Journal of Infectious Diseases and the US Department of Homeland Security have found that the virus decayed by 90% in less than 10 minutes of summer sunlight. Put a few bottles of SPF 30 so your guests can kill germs and get some sun without burning to a crisp. If your guests are sharing sunblock, make sure there’s some Purel nearby to sanitize after touching the bottle.
4. Sanitizer and tissues for all
It’s a good idea to have plenty of hand sanitizer within arm’s reach so your guests can stay on germ patrol. Keep tissues nearby as well for safe sneezing! Even if nobody present is feeling sick, there may be allergens in the air, and sometimes you just gotta sneeze. Most people are being hypervigilant about germs, so tissues will put the party at ease—nobody wants to sneeze into their mask or mark themselves as a danger by doing “the dab.”
5. Gamify your social distancing
One common thread in all the reports about the perils of drinking in a bar is the patrons themselves: after a few drinks, social distancing guidelines go out the window. But if there’s one way you can get drunk people to follow the rules, it’s by making it a game: every time there’s a social distancing “party foul,” stop everything and take a collective judgemental sip in the offender’s direction.
Play games like bocce or beanbags to have some friendly competition from a safe distance. Just be careful with the lawn darts! You might also provide a stack of hula hoops to encourage social distancing like this Florida summer camp.
6. Normalize leaving early
One of the reasons the novel coronavirus has spread so quickly is that people who are just coming down with the coronavirus are at their most infectious before they know they're sick. If anyone present starts to feel feverish or unwell, they need to go home immediately. Make this clear in the invitation itself so you won’t find yourself playing bouncer with a drunk and possibly contagious person. Make the rounds at least once to ask everyone how they’re feeling.
Now you’re ready to have a socially distant soiree in your own backyard! But wait—we’ve condensed the most important points into a handy checklist for your planning purposes:
Your Checklist for a Socially Distant but Lit BBQ in 2020
VIPs only, and make an agreement that anyone feeling sick needs to leave
Keep the noise down to avoid shouting and spittle-clouds
Single servings only
Provide straws and masks for safe sipping
Let the sunshine in, but lather up with sunblock
Sanitizer and tissues on every table
Keep your drunk buddies socially distant
Check on them and ask feverish friends to go home