Guide to a Socially Distanced Fourth of July

by Samantha Holzman

After months of self-quarantine and social distancing, many of us are craving human contact with our loved ones. Zoom calls just don’t seem to do it anymore. As the days get longer and the sun heats up, summer parties are typically in full swing. But right now, our world is anything but typical. Here’s some good news: by following social distancing and other Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, we can think about hosting small get-togethers, and the Fourth of July is a great time to start.

In June, the CDC shared their “Considerations for Events and Gatherings.” Obviously, events carrying the lowest risk, according to the CDC, are virtual-only, such as Zoom or Skype. Those with “more risk” are considered to be “smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear cloth face coverings, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).”  

To help you find a balance between hosting a fun summer party and maintaining the safety of your guests, here are a few things to think about beforehand. 

INVITATIONS

As cute as they are, paper invitations can become contaminated by anyone who physically handles mail. For a gathering during this uncertain time, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Consider using online invitations such as Evite and Paperless Post, or simply call and text your guests, which is more eco-friendly, anyway! 

Think about the nature of your get-together. Do you want to have a cookout and serve dinner? Or would you be more comfortable simply having drinks with family and friends? Do you want your guests to congregate inside your house or would you prefer that they stay outside? Gently but clearly communicate your expectations beforehand. 

GUEST LIST

Limit the number of guests attending. The more people you and your guests are exposed to, the higher the risk. Consider whether potential guests have recently traveled, work in a public setting such as a grocery store or have been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID. Clearly, this is not the time to invite your out-of-state relatives and everyone from the soccer team! Be mindful of your immuno-compromised or elderly guests, who are at a much higher risk. Be sure to check the news in your local area to see any restrictions on guest count.

FOOD & DRINK

The CDC states, “There is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread by food. However, people sharing utensils and congregating around food service areas can pose a risk.” Choose to opt out of a traditional BBQ buffet, where guests will be in close quarters and touching the same surfaces over and over. Encourage guests to bring their own food and drinks. Or hand over the role of designated server to the cook (or Master Griller), who will wear gloves while cooking and serving. 

Encourage guests to bring their own plates and utensils--bonus points if you use biodegradable options, such as Susty Party or Transitions2earth! Ask guests to bring their own cups or reusable water bottles. They can even color-code them with tape or stickers. Or serve single-serving canned or bottled drinks. Provide disposable paper napkins or ask guests to bring their own reusable napkins. Try: Tea North Organic Carbonated Iced Tea, Kitchen Crafted Non-GMO Project verified and gluten-free Grill Spices and Dips. 

Here is a light, summery cocktail recipe--made with award-winning organic vodka!--for you and your guests to enjoy.

Organic Vodka Lemonade

Humboldt Organic Vodka

Mix 1.5 ounces Humboldt Organic Vodka with lemonade to taste. Enjoy!

FACE MASKS & HAND SANITIZER

The most important goal for you (the host) and your guests is to reduce the spread of the virus during your get-together. Generally, the risk is much lower when you’re outdoors because there is natural airflow and more space to socially distance.

Display several hand sanitizers throughout and encourage guests to wash their hands frequently. Make sure you’re stocked up on soap, paper towels and cleaning supplies. If guests will be inside, clean highly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, tabletops, fridge handles and  light switches frequently. For restrooms specifically, encourage guests to use disposable cleaning wipes or paper towels and cleaning solutions on high-touch surfaces, such as door knobs, faucets, toilet handles, and light switches after every use. Feel free to leave specific notes as a reminder. 

One of the most important things to remember is to enforce social distancing. Make sure tables and chairs are set up six feet apart before guests arrive. Remind guests to keep their distance as they are moving around. Don’t forget to wear a cloth mask and require your guests to do the same. (You can keep the holiday festive with a Fourth of July-themed mask!) Try: Indie Source Freedom Mask with a blue-and white stars motif, or an organic cotton version from Naturepedic or Avocado Green Mattress

 For the time being, typical hosting etiquette has gone out the window. Staying safe and being together is what counts.

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