Safely entertaining during the summer of COVID

Has COVID put a hold on your summer parties and family gatherings? You’re not alone. We’re all learning as we go, and trying to figure out how we can get together while staying as safe as possible.


These tips will help you navigate some of the major areas of concern.



Check the rules for your community on how many people can gather at one location.
Currently in Minnesota, you can have up to 10 people at an indoor gathering and up to 25 people outdoors.

Set clear ground rules. COVID means that even “Minnesota nice” people need to spell out the details. Your job as host is to be as clear as possible. Describe who will be there, how long the event will last, rules for wearing masks, whether there will be a bathroom available, and whether you will serve food and beverages. It’s difficult to anticipate all of the questions, so also ask your guests if they have any additional concerns.

Have extra masks available. It’s inevitable: someone will forget their mask. Save everyone time and embarrassment by having disposable masks ready.

Set up socially distant seating. We all know the drill: stay six feet apart. But it can be tough to eyeball distances.  Set up seating ahead of time. Get creative with marking boundaries; for example, put out colorful stake flags 6 feet apart, or make 6-foot circles on the lawn with mowing patterns or colorful twine.

Embrace “Bring Your Own.”  Even if you are planning to supply food and beverages, give people the option of bringing their own. The point is to get together with your friends and family, not insist that they eat your food.

Focus on single servings.  If you do provide food, set out individual servings instead of big bowls for sharing. For example, put veggies and dip in clear plastic cups, serve cupcakes instead of a single cake; put ready-to-eat burgers on small disposable plates instead of laying out separate platters with meat, toppings, and buns.

Explain the rules for using the bathroom. Bathrooms are a tricky issue.  Even though they present a lower risk, it’s still one that many people are unwilling to take. If you are willing to let people use your bathroom, ask them to wear masks in the house, and make sure you have plenty of hand soap and disposable hand towels. Also put a canister of antibacterial wipes on the counter for people to use. If the bathroom will be off limits, let people know when you issue the invitation. Then they can plan how long to stay.

Don’t take it personally. We are all trying our best during this pandemic. It’s unlikely that every guest will have the same comfort level. Some may leave early, some may not attend at all. Be flexible, gracious, and know that the relationship is what counts.

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