The world will never be the same after 2020. How will COVID impact the way we interact with people in the comfort of our own homes? Will hugs and handshakes ever be a thing again? When can we safely welcome friends back into our lives? Truth is, it’s a deeply personal decision. Case volumes by region are as varied as people’s individual risk tolerances are. And by no means is there a one-size-fits-all answer to doing it right.
But there are a few easy, implementable steps to keep top of mind if—and when—you’re ready(ish) to start having people over again. These best practices will leave both you and your guests feeling totally at ease.
- Set Some House Rules
Make it clear to your guests what your “COVID house rules” are before they arrive to ensure there’s a clear understanding of what you’re comfortable with. The keyword here is before—this eliminates any back and forth about whether mask-wearing should be a “thing.” It also opens up the conversation. Maybe your friends prefer to hangout outside, in which case, a side-gate entrance and outdoor setup might be the move. Let them know that you’re down to accommodate their needs as well. Here’s how we do it at home:
Alex & Jesse’s House Rules:
- Our quarantine friend circle is small. Is yours the same?
- Don’t forget to wash your hands when you come in.
- Set your personal belongings on the floor or a designated chair.
- Disinfect your cell phones upon arrival.
- Use coasters to avoid mix-ups.
- If we’re ordering delivery, let us (safely) dish out the food.
- Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize
If your friends weren’t germaphobes before, chances are, they might be now. And in any case, it definitely gives your guests peace of mind when you’ve given everything a proper wipe down before they arrive. We also like to keep soap and sanitizer on hand in virtually every corner of the house. Bathrooms, kitchen, entrance table—you name it. Whether they use it or not, it’s sending a message that we care about their safety and are taking the necessary steps and precautions on our end, too.
- Set Up the Seating
The simplest way to avoid having to deal with any awkward table and chair scooching later: plan ahead. We rearranged our indoor seating so it’s already six feet apart and there’s no second-guessing for your guests. And if you’re taking the party alfresco, throw a few blankets on the grass, grab a hammock, or arrange a few cushions or extra poufs so your setup is good to go.
- Grab the Drink Markers
The last thing you want is beverage mix-ups. Coasters for cocktails, koozies for cans, and wine glass markers are your new best friends. Offer to fix your friends a drink and give them their designated marker to dodge any accidental switcheroos (we’ve all been there). And when in doubt, there’s no harm in playing it safe: Wash, rinse, or grab a new glass. It’s all good.
- No Double Dipping (Please and Thank-You)
Have a friend who likes to notoriously lick their fingers or double-dip in the guac? You’re not alone. And there is nothing more vibe killing, tbh. Set out small plates so your guests can serve themselves small portions onto their own plates. Regardless of what you serve, make sure that each dish is fully equipped with its own serving utensil. If you really want to go for it, plate all dishes and serve individually to avoid any close calls. Alternatively, you can create communal eating sections by family or couple—think three mini cheese boards as opposed to one big free for all.
- Wear a Mask!
A quick point to make here is, if your guest wants to wear a mask, make them feel comfortable by doing the same. They may feel anxious about leaving the house, so it’s really not the best time to debate about mask-wearing’s efficacy. Offer up some distanced seating. Give them a squirt of hand sanitizer. Have patience. And more importantly, be a friend. These are strange, unprecedented times—and we’re all figuring out how to do this right.