Party People: Navigating Entertaining Etiquette, Pandemic Protocols and ‘Pods’
Among the various design and lifestyle topics often explored here on the Bon Vivant blog are entertaining and social etiquette. The pandemic has rendered the former irrelevant for the past few months, but with slightly loosened restrictions and friend and family “pods” (groups of people who have agreed to follow the same safety protocols so that they can socialize without social distancing), party people are eager for do’s and don’t’s. For the most part, we are all making it up as we go along, 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 with an extended group or with your pod.
Head Count: As with any party, whether there is a pandemic or not, determine your guest list. Phase 2 mandates currently allow indoor social gatherings, including parties, weddings and funerals, of up to 25 people and outdoor gatherings of no more than 50 people. Consider the size of your space and plan for safe social distancing among your guests. This means whether the gathering is inside or outside, those not living in the same household or in a pod need enough room to remain 6-to-10 feet apart.
Communication is Key: Give guests all of the information they need to make the best decision for themselves and their family. Let them know how many people are attending. Also, inform them of who will be present. Normally, a host wouldn’t provide the guest list, but in times like these, information is power, so go with it. Be sure to offer up your safety protocols, or the things you plan to do to ensure that everyone is safe, which tend to vary person-to-person and household-to-household. It can mean everything from requiring masks and social distancing parameters to asking households to provide certain items for themselves. This is important so that the guests can make informed decisions and also so that they know what’s expected on their end. Finally, give everyone an escape hatch. Make it a point to say that if they have second thoughts a day or two before the party, that 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, be sure to 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.
Are you planning a gathering or have you attended one in which the host came up with creative safety solutions? Share in comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org.