Hosting a Party During
Social Distancing Times

Physically Distanced Party

What better way to get closer to normalcy than to begin celebrating again?  Some of us crave getting back to an active social life and others of us are apprehensive about being in close proximity to people outside of our households.

But, as with all enjoyable gatherings, if you formulate a detailed plan, your guests will feel welcome and comfortable.  And that’s what etiquette is all about: helping others feel comfortable and confident in social situations.

Hosting Responsibilities

Hosting a party everyone enjoys is the goal and carries important preliminary responsibilities.  Food, drinks and décor need to be planned, and once the party begins, you’ll make sure guests are introduced to one another and you will circulate like the social butterfly you are to make sure everyone is having fun.

However, current circumstances require hosts to consider additional details to keep guests comfortable and the party flowing.  Guests’ confidence that their safety and consideration have been taken into account is your leadership charge in setting guidelines and expectations.

Party Planning in a Pandemic

Consider inviting your guests to a physically, but not socially distanced, party.  Yes, changing the language may help you and your guests to feel comfortable right away.  You intend to be social, but just in a physically modified way.

The invitations for your gathering will already include basic details, but adding additional specifics will help with the level of comfort you want your guests to have.  Your precise invitation might include:

  • Date and time.
  • The type of party. (Outside, inside? Dinner, appetizers?)
  • Parking or entrance details.
  • Mask-wearing requirements or non-wearing portions of the event.  Mention that disposable surgical masks will be on hand if they have forgotten theirs.
  • Physical distancing details, even to the minute.  
  • Seating details (not-socially distancing during dinner?).
  • Description of how food will be served.  
  • Any special requests, such as bringing your own beverage or food item.
  • Mention your 100% commitment to the guidelines.
  • Invite a telephone call for reassurance.
  • Provide instructions to RSVP.

Serving food at a physically distanced gathering is not complicated, but will keep your gathering in a casual category and may take up extra space.

  • Rather than setting out the usual appetizer plates, place individual cups or packaged snacks on a table for guests to take.  
  • Distance the tables and seat only couples at each table.
  • Serve boxed or pre-packaged meals with disposable paper products and utensils.
  • If you are providing the beverage, serve in cans or bottles or pre-pour wine or other beverages.
  • Serve single-portion desserts such as cupcakes, rather than cutting a birthday cake.

The environment you provide should be nourishing.  Ask upon arriving if there is anything your guest needs and show them where to place coats and belongings.  Letting guests know where the hand sanitizers are placed will set the tone of safety.

Many people who give small and larger parties have mentioned that they call guests before an invitation is sent to ask whether they are going out yet and under what conditions.  It’s fine to talk about how they feel about wearing masks and under what conditions they don’t wear them.  It’s also the right time to let them know what to anticipate when they receive your invitation.

The real secret to a physically distanced party is to agree that it’s a great idea to spend time together and to let others know that their comfort is of utmost importance to you.  As you try your hand at planning and hosting a physically – but not socially distanced – party, more and more occasions will present themselves.  It’s time to get back to memory-making!



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