How to Host a Physically Distant Backyard Party

physically distant gathering

Depending on your comfort level, a backyard party might be in the cards — with a few precautions. 

The following tips have been carefully curated to help you safely spend time with loved ones. But as Melissa Clark eloquently puts it in her article “How to Host a Socially Distanced Barbecue,” published June 26, 2020, in The New York Times:

Here’s a maxim for entertaining in the age of Covid-19: The only way to bring people together is to figure out how to keep them apart. 

While summer’s warm nights are fading into the crisp days of fall, don’t miss out on the beautiful colors and stunning evenings the Pacific Northwest still has to offer. 

Take Stock of How Much Space You Have

As Clark cautioned, the key is to get together socially — not physically. You want to take stock of how much space your backyard has. This can help you determine how many people you can safely invite. 

Each separate family (individuals living within the same dwelling), should have their own space to sit at least 6 feet from one another. 

Make Sure You Have Enough Physically Distant Seats

That huge outdoor sectional might be wonderful for lounging with your family. But right now isn’t the time to rub elbows with your neighbors or best friend. 

You want to make sure you have enough seats that can be positioned separately to give each person their won space. 

What About the Bathroom?

This one is tricky. Clark took the route of discussing the comfort level with each of the parties invited. “All involved agreed that they felt fine about sharing it — as long as only one masked person went into the house at a time, and as long as everyone promised to close the lid before flushing,” reported Clark.  

Martha Stewart's guide to a physically distant barbeque took a similar approach, “Consider the bathroom situation, too—most likely guests will need to use it, so ask that they walk through your house with a face mask on and thoroughly sanitize before and after entering.”

What Food Should Be On the Menu?

Big roasts and intricate dishes can be cumbersome to serve multiple people — especially when you are trying to limit how much you touch other folks’ food. This means big buffets are also a no-go. 

Don’t be afraid to go the takeout route. Emily Heil and Jura Koncius are fully supportive of this move in their Washington Post article, ‘How to host a get-together as safely — and graciously — as possible.’ They advise, “Takeout is perfectly acceptable. You and your friend can order and pay separately and eat together yet distant.”

Really want to cook? UCDavis Health recommends, “Have one person – wearing a mask and gloves (or with thoroughly washed hands) – prepare the food.”

To keep this from being a herculean task, consider simple dishes. Grilled chicken and grilled corn on the cob. Both of which are relatively easy to plate and serve as individual servings. 

How Should You Handle Drinks?

As with food, the easiest and safest way to handle drinks is to make it a BYOB (bring your own beverage) party. This reduces the potential for cross-contamination. 

Really want to offer your guests a drink? Consider items that come in sealed containers — such as cans of soda water and bottles of beer. 

Additional Considerations

Set up a Handwashing and/or Put Out Hand Sanitizer: It Is a good idea to have a handwashing station outside, if possible. However, not many patios have a readily accessible sink. A good alternative is to put a small bottle of hand sanitizer at each of the group ‘zones.’ This allows people to easily clean their hands and cut down on germs. 

Have Extra Masks on Hand: While nearly all of us have masks, sometimes folks forget them. Or they get dirty. Having some extra disposable masks on hand can quickly resolve and uncomfortable moments and make it easy for you to keep everyone safe without leaving anyone (who you invited) out. 

Need some furniture to pull off a physically distant outdoor gathering? Both our Seattle and Bellevue stores are open and cleaned regularly. Or, you can peruse our selection online and call in to order.