Zoom fatigue is a real thing! While fun at first, virtual events and socializing have become exhausting. Most of us have put our life on hold for 7 months – canceled weddings, vacations, graduations and other special events. Seemingly endless disappointments have us looking forward to celebrating with loved ones again. Instead of hoping everything will go back to normal again, savvy hosts are planning in-home events that are safe and fun – and definitely different!
✔ Outdoor Thanksgivings
✔ Intimate backyard weddings
✔ Small family birthday parties
✔ Movie nights
✔ Neighborhood cocktails
✔ Christmas caroling party
Health and safety priorities have made in-home events popular again – and as we anticipate that the need to limit event sizes and take other precautions will last well into 2021, you may want to consider throwing an at-home event! Creativity and flexibility are key to successfully planning events in your home. While BYOEverything is the safest option for hosting an at-home party, there are precautions you can take to host an in home event.
All At Home Events
An in home party can be meaningful and special and safe, as long as some basic guidelines are followed.
- Keep your guest list small. Depending on where you live, and the size of your home or back yard, most people feel comfortable with fewer than 25 guests – and many prefer less than 10. Let your guests know how many will be attending so they can make an informed decision about whether they are comfortable joining you.
- A short event is most comfortable for everyone. A couple of hours is plenty of time to celebrate and socialize.
- Ask people to decline if they’ve been exposed to someone who is not healthy, if they have traveled out of state recently, or if they work in a busy crowded office.
- Be gracious when the unexpected happens. This is new to everyone. If someone declines to attend your event or arrives then abruptly leaves, don’t take it personally. Often people don’t know what they’re comfortable with, and they may be easily overwhelmed by even a small group of people.
Backyard Event Planning
Depending on where you live, you may be able to organize a small outdoor event for 10 to 25 in your backyard. Backyard weddings can have special meaning for the special couple. Instead of a guest list of 200, an intimate celebration for 25 means the couple can still celebrate and move forward with their life together. Birthday parties, bridal showers and other family and friend activities and special events can be safely organized with some prep work and planning.
The size of your yard, the weather and the type of event will dictate what is needed to organize a fun, safe event for you and your guests.
If you need protection from nature – rain, cold or heat – you may need to rent or purchase equipment to keep your guests comfortable. A tent can be heated or airconditioned, and outdoor propane heaters can make a backyard cozy on a chilly evening. Tables with built-in fireplaces offer ambiance and warmth – and are perfect for roasting marshmallows!
Light shawls make a wonderful gift for your female guests. Souvenir blankets are fun moments of an outdoor movie night birthday party.
Do you need a dance floor, seating for guests or a stage? Or all three? Make sure your yard has enough space for social distancing so your guests are comfortable and safe at least 6 feet apart.
Who is doing set-up and tear down of any chairs, tables or tents? Does the logistics team need to be scheduled around the catering team?
Where will guests park? Is there plenty of street parking? Will the neighbors let you park in their driveways? Do you need to hire a car valet service – or should you request that all guests Uber to your event?
Will your backyard event be virtually broadcast? Many people may want to share a special graduation, birthday, anniversary or wedding celebration even if they can’t attend in person. Make sure someone is assigned to manage your tech – and that they do a test run to work out the kinks in advance!
Are you serving food? Is food being catered, or will you be cooking? Does the food come ready to serve, or do you need a prep space for the catering team? What about food trucks – can your favorite local food trucks cater your event?
Don’t forget restrooms. Can guests access your home’s bathroom or should you rent a restroom trailer? If you rent, do you need a permit? Where will you park it? Do you have to notify the neighbors?
Will your backyard event attendees be required to wear a mask? Custom masks are fun SWAG and provide protection. For casual activities, make a game of it and pass out donut water floats for everyone to wear to make sure they can’t get too close, or create fun hats with a distance brim built-in!
Indoor Event Planning
If you’re planning an indoor at-home gathering or small in-person event with people from different households, you’ll want to make special arrangements so that everyone is safe. If kids are involved, you want to make it fun and easy for them to stay safely distant.
- Keep the windows at least partly open to allow fresh air to circulate.
- Make sure everyone can comfortably sit or stand 6 feet apart by pre-placing the chairs and tables or marking the floor with a large X made from blue painter’s tape.
- Ask everyone to wear masks, and have a few extras on hand in case some are lost or forgotten. If you’re watching a sports event, provide team-themed masks for your guests!
- Do not share serving utensils. Individually served plates are safer than a buffet. Use paper or plastic dishes, utensils and cups.
- Put a stack of paper hand towels in the bathroom and put away the cloth hand towels. Have a package of sanitized wipes available so people can wipe down door and sink handles.
- Place hand sanitizer bottles around the room.
Pro Tip: Make An Event Checklist
As a professional event planner, I use checklists to make sure no detail is forgotten or overlooked. If you’re planning an at home event with many new and unfamiliar safety measures, I suggest you write down a list of everything that needs to be done, then carefully follow your list until every item is checked off and your special in home gathering is as safe AND FUN as possible!