Last summer, we sort of thought things would be more normal in the fall. We pictured crowded indoor parties and mask-free shopping. While these things aren’t a great idea, that doesn’t mean we can’t spend time with friends. It just means we need to get creative.
If you’re like me, having people over can be stressful (even without a global pandemic that won’t end). I have a tendency to feel like every square inch of my house needs to be clean before anyone can enter. I know that’s crazy and I’m working on it. Not being able to host was kind of a relief, at the beginning. But we’ve been in this “new normal” for 19 months now and it’s probably time to connect with people again.
I’m not suggesting you host a super-spreader house party, but with a little creativity, you can safely have people over.
1. Use the fall weather to your advantage.
Outdoor get-togethers will be much more difficult as the weather gets cold, so use the fall weather for outdoor fun now. Our neighbor hosts a party each weekend to watch the Browns. They have a TV in their garage and they set up tables under an easy-up tent with food on the driveway. They’ve found a way to be hospitable without much risk. Have a bonfire, or picnic at the park, or dinner on the back deck. Borrow or buy a projector and watch a movie outside. You can get a fancy screen or just hang a white bedsheet. (We’ve done that before) Fall weather is designed for outdoor fun. And in our current climate, it’s safer. Let’s not find ourselves cooped up inside in December wishing we had spent more time with friends outside in the fall.
2. Open windows and keep it small.
If your company is comfortable, have a small dinner party. If you must be inside, open windows to keep the air circulating. This isn’t 100% safe, but it’s also not good to be too isolated. We’ve gotten to the point where we don’t really know how to connect anymore. And that’s a real danger too. When serving food, find creative ways to keep things safe. That doesn’t mean everything has to be pre-packaged. But do you best to make sure people aren’t touching other peoples’ food in order to serve themselves. I love charcuterie boards, but they make me cringe a little with COVID. Others probably feel the same way, so proceed accordingly.
3. A little planning goes a long way.
It is easier to shut the door and say, “We’ll be hospitable later.” But there are people in your friend circle and on your street in real need of connection. Maybe it’s you. Making a few changes so that everyone’s comfortable is worth it to spend time with others. Enjoy a glass of wine on our porch with a friend or take a walk. Just do something to connect.
Many of us have gotten too comfortable living in solitude. Hospitality is important for building relationships and good for our mental health. Think of someone who’s been on your mind lately, and text or call them. Make a plan to get together. We’re better together.