For the foreseeable future, holidays are going to look different. And, whether you live in an area of the country still requiring residents to follow strict lockdown requirements, or you’re simply being asked to use caution and maintain social distancing during get-togethers, chances are high you’re going to have to do something different for July Fourth.
When my family started talking about whether or not we would try to get together for the holiday, I felt overwhelmed by the idea at first. We’re being more careful than most. We have our groceries delivered and haven’t had anyone inside our home for months now. How could we pull off a small picnic?
At the same time, I know we’re in a low-infection area, and gathering outdoors with a few people is considered to be fairly low-risk. So, once I shook off my anxiety, we started talking about a socially distanced Fourth of July party that would leave everyone involved feeling safe.
Keep it small, keep it outside
The CDC is clear that the lowest risk gatherings are happening virtually. However, people in areas with low community transmission may be comfortable with small gatherings. With this in mind, my family is keeping our Fourth of July party to my few, immediate family members — two siblings, their partners, and my mom.
We also know that seeing people outdoors comes with a lower likelihood of spreading COVID-19 so we’ll be sticking with an outdoor gathering in my backyard. To allow for social distancing, we’ll ask each household to bring their own picnic blanket or chairs and plan to set up at least six feet away from each other.
BYOE: Bring your own everything
When multiple people start touching things, there’s always the chance that the virus could be transferred from one person to the next. Knowing this, we’re taking the CDC’s suggestions into account and asking everyone to bring their own drinks, food, plates, and utensils.
We’re definitely going to miss the fun of a potluck style get-together, but we realize that caution is what is going to keep us all healthy and make it possible for us to keep seeing each other over the next several months.
Having fun while social distancing
Here’s where the fun starts, even if it is a little more complicated. We tried to think of games we could play while still maintaining at least six feet between each person. A few ideas that come to mind are charades and trivia, which can both be played completely contact-free. We’re also going to give croquet a try. That will require a little more effort from players so that they can maintain social distancing. We’ll also plan to wipe down mallets between games if new players join the fun.
If your neighborhood or city allows fireworks, they can totally be done with plenty of space between people. Stick with standard firework safety practices — light one firework at a time, make sure everyone keeps their distance, and don’t try to relight a firework if it malfunctions. Just make sure everyone has their own lighters or punks for lighting fireworks to avoid the need to share.
Communicate and stay flexible
Before we found ourselves living in a pandemic, there were very few reasons we canceled get-togethers. Just last Christmas, I told one of my siblings to come to Christmas dinner even though they had a head cold. Their germs didn’t seem like a good enough reason to ruin the holiday!
Things have changed, however, and we’re making flexibility and communication a central part of family gatherings. If anyone has any symptoms or finds out they were around someone who tested positive, they’ll have to sit out this get-together. And if someone decides they’re uncomfortable, we’re not holding it against them if they stay home.
Now that we have more guidance from the CDC on how to safely get together with small groups of people, I feel hopeful. While a couple of months ago I was worried about a long stretch of isolation, I now feel comfortable planning occasional outdoor get-togethers with the people I care about most.