Quarantine fatigue is real. We’re all having to face the reality that this summer is going to look different than  others, and after months apart from friends, co-workers, and family, most of us are eager to reconnect with other humans IRL. I never thought I’d miss being shoulder to shoulder with strangers at a concert, or waiting in line at my favorite restaurant for brunch so much.

With warm weather in full-swing, people are still finding creative ways to stay connected outdoors. Pool parties, summer camps, and patio happy hours have been replaced by drive-by birthdays, front yard drinks, and distanced hangs at the park. Does all of this have you wondering, can I see my friends yet?  Socializing is core to our well-being, and there are ways to see others safely as long as you understand the risks. Whether you’ve chosen to see friends yet or not, there are some things you should know before you think about getting together.

How do we minimize risks and respect local guidelines when the time comes to have friends over?

With different parts of the country opening up, people are beginning to socialize at their own pace. If this makes you feel stressed or uncomfortable, that’s totally normal.  Give yourself, and others, some grace. The truth is, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, and we are all navigating uncharted territory right now. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know it’s important to limit risks where we can, and hold back from shaming others for their choices.

With that said, even though restrictions seem to be loosening up, we need to be vigilant in protecting ourselves and others. Officials still advise against visiting public places like bars and restaurants, and continue to emphasize social distancing whenever possible. With so much uncertainty, it’s important to be aware and plan carefully before you re-unite with family and friends. While I’m not encouraging you to throw a party, scroll on for a few things to keep in mind so you can approach entertaining with caution when the time comes.

Be upfront

First, it’s important to be transparent with your guests about the details of your gathering. Let them know upfront how many people will be there, where y’all will be hanging out, and what the food and drink situation will be. That way, they can be aware of the risks and ground rules, and make an informed decision about whether or not to attend.

Hang outside

The virus is known to mainly spread through the air, so when you do choose to see your people, opting for a backyard hangout is a lower-risk option. Having your gathering outside where there’s more free-flowing air is more safe than hanging out indoors. If you don’t have any outdoor areas in your home or apartment, try opting for the park instead.

Keep it small

Start with just a few friends and know what the guidelines are for gatherings in your state. With a smaller group, it’s easier for each person to control their personal space. This gives people more room to roam, especially if you have a smaller backyard or patio.

Space out furniture

If you have outdoor furniture, make sure to space it out at least 6 feet apart, so that people can maintain a social distance from one another comfortably. If you don’t have furniture, you could lay out towels or blankets for people to sit on across the yard and do a picnic-style hangout.

Wear masks

Wearing masks is always a safe bet when interacting with people outside your inner circle. Evidently, some people don’t even have symptoms when they contract the virus, so wearing a mask is just another measure you can take to feel safer around others.

Order Takeout

While I’m all about cooking when I entertain, there has never been a better time for takeout. Let each person order their own dish so it is pre-portioned, and use disposable dishes and utensils to limit touching your personal dish-ware. Hold back from setting out your fave dip or cheeseboard, because you want to limit sharing food and drink as much as possible. Sharing is not caring right now.

Go potluck style

If ordering takeout while you’re entertaining is not your style, let each person bring their own food to the party. You could even have everyone bring their own sides, and then cook the main dish on a grill (if you have one). You will just need to make sure everyone takes turns and is 6 feet apart while grilling, and using separate utensils.

BYOB

Have your guests bring their own drinks and cups over to avoid drinking from the same bottle or container. This is a fun opportunity for a potluck style happy hour where everyone gets to participate.  Plus, this relieves you from the stress of figuring out what to get everyone to drink and having to play the role of bartender for the night.

Have supplies handy

Make sure to have a trash can nearby so people can easily dispose of any used items. Have hand sanitizer and masks around just in case. Make sure you have a plan for people who will need to go inside and use the restroom and have disposable hand towels. Everyone’s attention to the situation is different, so it’s better to over-prepare in order to make sure people feel comfortable and safe.

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We’d love to hear: are you ready to invite friends over yet? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

3 comments
  1. 1
    Camille Styles | June 19, 2020 at 7:29 am

    Such great advice, Michelle – this is going to be my official pre-gathering checklist this summer. And it gave me hope that even though things aren’t going to be “normal” when it comes to summer hang-outs this year, we can still make them fun.

    Reply
  2. 2
    Caligirl | June 19, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    Where I live people have been doing this even through the lockdown – invite people over, hug from afar, hang out in the backyard, space out the chairs to stay six feet apart (or better yet, space out around the pool with feet in!), BYOB (or have one person pour for everyone) and sometimes even share an outdoor movie on the projector. It’s been delightful, no one has gotten sick, and it’s sooooo good for everyone’s emotional health.

    Reply
  3. 3
    Denise | August 5, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    This is one of the better posts I have seen about socializing during this crazy time. In California we are basically still SIP and to be honest with you we are still reluctant to get together with anyone; the risks are so high. Anyhow, this post definitely makes me feel more comfortable with taking some baby steps. Thanks!

    Reply
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Kristen Kilpatrick