How to Have a Socially Distant Fall Picnic
Fall is a season that usually signifies change. And yet, the past several months have been so life-altering that even the meaning of change itself has shifted. Now, after months of sheltering in place, social activities are gradually, cautiously, reconvening.
When it comes to avoiding the coronavirus, experts say gathering outside is much safer because the flow of open air dilutes infectious aerosols. And since being in nature and eating healthy strengthens immunity, it sounds like the perfect time for a fall picnic. Plus, there is no evidence to suggest the virus spreads through food. With some strategic planning, you can organize a cozy gathering, reflective of your personal style, and simultaneously embrace the new normal.
In keeping with safety measures, less is definitely more, so plan for a gathering that is small and intimate (2 or 4 people, a maximum of 6). Set boundaries and be clear about expectations with your guests when you extend the invite. Even though there ought to be at least 6 feet of distancing, instruct each person to bring a mask, for when distancing isn’t possible. If a guest does not comply with your mask request, let them know wellness is your top priority.
A backyard space offers maximum flexibility and control in terms of setup, cleaning, and maintaining distancing. A local park/lake is an appealing alternative that's lush and serene, but you'll need to bring all your supplies and may have to deal with crowds. No matter where you choose to have your gathering have plenty of effective options for guests to clean their hands, such as a homemade spray bottle, as well as antibacterial wipes, and hand sanitizer.
Since masks will be off when eating, make sure there is at least six feet of space between guests. There's some debate as to whether 6 feet is enough distance, considering that aerosols from a sneeze or cough can travel 16 feet or more, so you may want to arrange for 8-10 feet if possible.
You can opt for seating at individual tables, giving each person or couple their own table, or arrange individual picnic blankets that are large enough to comfortably accommodate dishes, with some extra space.
You can opt to have each person or couple bring their own food, drink, and utensils. This minimizes any unnecessary contact. It's also a simple way to avoid worries about food allergies and restrictions and minimizes cleanup.
Alternatively, you can order takeout in advance to keep things fun and preparation to a minimum to your guests. Just be mindful to avoid sharing and order individual dishes. Even better: Remind guests to bring their own utensils so you can avoid single-use products. To further assure safety, call ahead to make sure the cafe is following covid protocols. Check reviews and ratings.
Keep your gathering short and sweet, preferably under 2 hours. Give your guests enough time to comfortably eat and socialize without too much lingering that might cause distancing guidelines to become lax or increase the need for bathroom visits.
Ultimately, the extra considerations it takes to interact safely are all part of mindfulness. Just as it’s important to eat well and exercise for your health, in the name of wellness, life looks different now. Flowing with this change, instead of resisting it, can bring new joyful experiences.