5 Tips for Hosting During COVID
Is it Safe to Get Together because of Coronavirus and its Variants?
By Becky Dotson
12 min read
This post has been updated to include current information about the Omicron variant of COVID-19. We encourage you to consult the CDC’s website for the latest information and guidelines related to COVID-19 pandemic.
Getting people together and keeping them safe from a highly transmissible virus is a tall order. With evidence showing that the recent surge of COVID-19 cases is driven by the Omicron variant, which is at least twice as contagious as the Delta variant, it’s essential to take every precaution necessary. Before hosting a gathering during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to consider the latest recommendations for doing so safely and make sure your guests are clear about any expectations you may have. Here we offer some tips that can help keep you and your guests safer during these uncertain times.
The first thing you should think about when planning a party is how many people you want to invite. Making the invitation list is always a top priority, but you should be even more strategic in a year of a pandemic. Check your local or state guidelines before you do any planning. There may be restrictions in your area for crowd size and gatherings. And while your party may not get turned in to the local authorities for too many people, you still need to be considerate and follow the rules in your town or state.
Consider how much space you have, how many people you can safely accommodate and if there’s enough room to keep people from being crowded around each other. This is certainly not the year to invite everyone you know over for a huge blow out.
If your invitation list is bigger than you can safely accommodate, you may want to try a virtual happy hour. We’ve all gotten pretty good at virtual get-togethers this year. But if in-person is the only way you want to go, consider staggering arrivals and departures to cut down the crowd size. Utilize two of the biggest rooms in your home – maybe the living area and the dining room. Assign rooms and safely distanced seats to guests and rotate them as the night goes along. It could even become your own version of Covid musical chairs!
Next, you will want to decide what precautions you consider important – make your own checklist of what needs to happen for your party to be safe. Once you’ve sorted those out, design your invitation and make sure your precautions Covid party ‘rules’ are listed on it. Your invitation should be gracious but should clearly outline your safety expectations. You don’t want to require masks and then not put that in the invitation – it could be embarrassing for you and your guest if they show up without one.
Politely ask guests if they aren’t feeling well to stay home. Just because they’ve RSVPed yes doesn’t mean they can’t back out if they’re under the weather. Once you decide what precautions you will take, stick with, and carry through with them on party night. Be the example.
Depending on your home or apartment’s size, it may be difficult to ensure there is adequate space for social distancing. If you live in an area of the U.S. that is warmer during the cold months, consider moving the fun outside. If the weather doesn’t permit in your part of the country, make sure the area is well-ventilated. If you can, open the windows, even if it’s just a little bit. That will help keep fresh air flowing.
You may also want to invest in an air purifier to help clean the air. Most air purifiers have HEPA filters, which pull, on average, 99.97% of particles and pollutants out of the air. We’ve done the research for you and ranked the best air purifiers to help fight the spread of Covid. On the night of your get together, make sure the purifier runs continuously for maximum effectiveness. It will help pull airborne particles out of the air and keep the air clean and fresh.
Plates, cups, and napkins aren’t going to be enough this year. You’ll want to have plenty of supplies on hand to make your guests feel safe and protected so they can fully enjoy themselves.
- Make sure your bathrooms are well stocked with soap. You don’t want to run out.
- Have hand sanitizer stations throughout your party space and home where guests can have quick and easy access to it.
- Wherever there’s hand sanitizer, make sure there is a box of tissues, too. A typical holiday season is full of sneezes and coughs, so make it easy for your guests to be able to grab tissues should they need one.
- Consider temperature checks at the door. There are plenty of non-contact, infrared thermometers on the market. And at this point, most guests have either encountered or are familiar with this practice and won’t think anything about it.
- Make distance markers to lay around on the floor for everyone to understand how far apart they need to be to stay safe – six feet or two arm lengths away.
- Require masks and have extra disposable ones on hand. You never know when someone may drop theirs or get it dirty and need a fresh one.
- If music will be on during your party, keep the volume at a minimum or ditch the music completely. Background noise can force your guests to talk louder than usual, which can send respiratory droplets further into the air.
- Hold off on the hugging and handshakes. Fist bumps and head nods are more appropriate this year.
There’s no doubt about it — the virus is serious. Many Americans have died from it, and even more, have gotten sick with it. So, it’s certainly nothing to joke about. But we can embrace and enjoy the situation we are faced with and the precautions we have to take. Years from now, this will be a time in our lives we look back on and say ‘remember when….’ Who knows… this may end up being your best holiday party ever!