While COVID-19 vaccines are making their way to the public, it will take time for them to become widely available and completely effective. That said, after a year of isolation people are more than ready to see their loved ones. When choosing to gather, it’s still safest to do so outdoors, in smaller groups, with social distancing it’s still critical that if you choose to gather in groups, to DIY everything you need for safe, socially distanced gatherings in your backyard.
In order to break up the group into smaller gatherings, create a few areas for interaction that offer different activities. Space out lawn games, seating areas and other activities to keep things flowing from one activity to the next.
Pre-Plate Your meals
While most backyard events have buffet-style food, shared plates and a centralized bar can create bottlenecks of people and potential breeding grounds for germs. Opt to pre-plate meals in carryout-style containers and choose individually packaged snacks over the chip and dip bowl.
Take Time to Pre-Arrange Your Seating
Enforcing social distancing is easiest when chairs and tables are already set up with seats that are six feet apart. Guests are less likely to move chairs around if the flow of traffic and seating areas are clearly defined and offer simple ways to have conversations and enjoy one another's company.
Have a DIY Movie Night
Grab a projector, some blankets and your favorite movie. All you need is an empty wall or a bedsheet to create your at-home, socially distanced cinematic experience! For added fun, make some DIY seating pods in inflatables and kiddie pools filled with pillows and blankets, spaced six feet apart.
Hula Hoop Bubbles
It might sound silly, but grab a handful of hula hoops from the dollar store before your next outdoor gathering. Tie ribbons to them to create suspenders and people can wear the hoops to create their own personal “bubble” that keeps a set amount of space between them and their conversation partner. You can also use the hula hoops for games and some childlike nostalgia.
Mason Jars Are Your Best Friend
Mason jars open a world of opportunity for grab-and-go snacks and drinks. Mix up a signature cocktail, a snack, or a sweet treat in individual mason jars. You can create DIY packages of party favors, masks, and activities in individual jars to keep everything contained and protected from potential contamination Spread the pickup tables throughout the yard to avoid congestion as people grab their jars and enjoy the gathering.
Socially Distanced Lawn Games
Most classic lawn games are conveniently already socially distanced. Cornhole, beanbag toss games, volleyball, and croquet are classics everyone can easily enjoy while remaining six feet apart. New favorites like spikeball and pickleball offer active options that are easy to learn and pick up the pace of the party.
Create Semi-Indoor Spaces
When gathering outdoors, it’s important to have spaces that keep guests out of the sun and out of the elements. Consider adding a pergola or awning to your landscaping that creates shade and lets you hang lighting to keep the party outdoors in the evening. If that’s not an option, open the garage and keep the door open so that air can flow easily while guests gather in a sheltered space.
Gather Around the Fire
A firepit creates an excellent central point for outdoor gatherings. Having one or two fire pit spaces at your outdoor gathering makes it easy to create a circle of seats spaced six feet apart and your guests facing each other for simple conversation. As a bonus, package up some S’more ingredients in mason jars to add a campfire-style treat to your gathering.
Don’t Forget About the Bathroom
Even when entertaining outdoors, guests will almost certainly need to use the restroom at some point during the evening. Keep the door to your outdoor gathering open to eliminate doorknob contact, and make sure your bathroom is stocked with individual paper towels, plenty of soap and hand sanitizer.