With slightly loosened restrictions and friend and family “pods” (groups of people who have agreed to follow the same safety protocols so they can socialize without social distancing), party people are eager for do’s and don’ts. We are all making it up as we go, but using the mandates set forth by the government and medical professionals, as well as traditional points of etiquette, I’ve cobbled together a few things to consider if you are hosting or attending a gathering.
Head Count: As with any party, pandemic or not, determine your guest list. Check current phase mandates for indoor social gatherings, including parties, weddings and funerals at ready.nola.gov to determine a maximum number. Consider the size of your space and plan for safe social distancing among your guests. This means whether the gathering is inside (which experts caution against) or outside (which is safer), those not in the same household or pod need enough room to remain 6 to 10 feet apart.
Communication is Key: Give guests the information needed to make the best decision for themselves and their family. Include the number of people attending and who will be present. Normally, a host wouldn’t provide the guest list, but in times like these, information is power. Offer your safety protocols, or the things you plan to do to ensure everyone is safe. This can vary person-to-person and household-to-household and can mean everything from requiring masks and social distancing parameters to asking households to provide certain items for themselves. This is important so guests can make informed decisions and so they know what’s expected from them. Finally, give everyone an escape hatch. Make it a point to say if they have second thoughts a day or two before the party, it’s OK to cancel. It’s generally bad form to cancel last minute, but again, we are living in weird times.
BYO … everything?: Again, under normal circumstances a host would provide everything for his or her guests, but these are not normal circumstances. It’s fine to ask guests to bring everything, including food, drinks, dishware, utensils and cups. That said, if you are providing everything, be open to guests who would like to bring their own supplies. It’s all about making them feel comfortable.
Safety Police: It’s certainly not going to be fun for anyone if you are constantly correcting guests for safety protocol violations, but at the same time, it’s important to set boundaries and follow the rules you set forth for guests. Some most certainly accepted your invitation based on assurances that safety would be paramount, so it’s up to you to keep your word. Find a balance that includes feeling empowered to pull guests aside and gently remind them of the ground rules if they are getting too laid back.
Attitude of Gratitude: Take the opportunity, whether you are a host or a guest, to say thank you. Everyone is going through a lot right now and the comfort of being with loved ones is more important than ever, so if you’ve provided that for the people you love or they have for you — express your gratitude.
I’ve said it many, many times, but etiquette is about being kind and making others feel comfortable. As we continue to find ways to move about, gather and simply live our lives, I hope we can all tap into our most compassionate and empathetic selves. We are all in this together.
(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story published at MyNewOrleans.com.)