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Social Gatherings in a Physically Distant World

Flyer for social Distancing

Regardless of your personal beliefs about COVID-19, our world has changed because of it.   Some businesses have closed permanently and the loss to their employees and the communities is heartbreaking.  Other companies are thriving, hiring, updating their products, and developing new and innovative solutions.  Much like many families, some are thriving while others are struggling.

I have come to realize that I can’t keep wishing we’d done things differently.  Wishing doesn’t change anything and honestly, I’m getting tired of going around and around in that conversation.  We are where we are!  It is now history.  BUT I am ready to talk about the future and how do we move forward from here.

When I look at some of the services I offer—Event Planning, Wine Tastings, Meal Planning, and Grocery Delivery for visitors, they all involve gathering people together.  And until we reach the point of herd immunity or widespread vaccinations, how we gather is going to be altered.

Normally, at this time of the year, I am getting ready for fall fundraising events, celebrations, and holiday planning.  I can’t imagine NOT doing those things this year, so I have to REIMAGINE how to do them safely.

  • What extra steps do I need to take?
  • What extra supplies do I need?
  • Is there something we’ve always done that we need to stop doing?

This article is not intended to give scientific or medical information.  If you have medical issues and you feel that you should not gather with others, please know I support you.  Personal responsibility and personal choice!  Many counselors and mental health experts say “social distancing” isn’t what we need to do.  We need to “physically distance” ourselves while still maintaining social connections.

To do this many of us took the first step and identified our “bubble”.  The cluster of people outside of our household we feel comfortable spending time with because their behaviors were like our own.  The people in the bubble could be neighbors, family members, co-workers, and friends.  And NO, the bubble is not meeting up with friends at a bar.  It is a specific group that values one another and protects each other by not taking unnecessary risks.

Next, we changed up some things about our gatherings.  We moved them outdoors.  We went to BYO-everything and disposable and single-use packaging.  We had plenty of hand sanitizer available and kept our distance with elbow bumps in place of handshakes, and air hugs in place of bear hugs.  It still felt “weird” each time we did it, but we knew it wasn’t going to be forever.

I mentioned in my post about Semi-Permanent Changes, that one of the things we missed most due to COVID-19 was having something to look forward to.  Think back to high school; Friday felt different than other days because of Friday night football games.  Whether you were a player, a cheerleader, or a member of the band and drill team, the excitement leading up to the game was often better than the game.

We must find a way to create excitement about Friday nights when there isn’t a game to go to.  And we need to start thinking about the alterations that are needed for fundraising events and other celebrations especially with the holidays fast approaching!  Because no, I do not believe COVID-19 is just going to disappear on November 4, 2020.  I hope it does!  I would love nothing better!  So I will hope for the best, and plan for the worst.

Each of the ideas I am going to share I will provide answers to the questions:

  • What extra steps do I need to take?
  • What extra supplies do I need?
  • Is there something we’ve always done that we need to stop doing?

An article in the June edition of SouthernLiving.com mentioned enjoying “old school” fun.  In the article, it mentioned playing Tetherball and Croquet.  Both of those are fun, and I would also love to see families playing FourSquare and having Hula Hoop contests (those were some of my favorite childhood games).

Friday Night FourSquare Game

Instead of Friday night Football game, invite a few friends over and have Friday night FourSquare game.

Why FourSquare?  The rules say you pass the ball underhanded—this means that almost all ages can play.  You only need about 6 players (stay below 10 at the gathering), a bouncing ball, and some concrete space.  You can mark off the court with tape, chalk or spray paint (be sure to check HOA restrictions before you do!).  Make it Fun.  Download some college football fight songs and have them blasting on a speaker.  Wear your favorite team jersey or colors.

Extra Steps:  Have plenty of hand sanitizer available for everyone to use before and after playing and give the ball a good spray as well.

Extra Supplies:  Be sure to have small bottles of Gatorade and Water iced down to keep everyone cool.

Stop: High Fives, Handshakes, and Yelling.

Or maybe the thought of meeting friends for Happy Hour on Friday at the Wine Bar or the local Craft Brewery is more your idea of something to look forward to.

Beer and Wine Tastings

You can host either a virtual tasting (Zoom, Google Meet) where every participant has purchased specific wine or beer and the tasting is done together over the meeting or host a small gathering (no more than 10 people), or a combination of together and online.  The goal is to connect, to learn, and to have fun.  The advantage of virtual tasting is they allow you to connect safely without concern for COVID-19 and without concern of driving after the tasting.

Some common events now celebrated with virtual parties include Birthdays and Anniversaries, Graduation and Retirements, Baby and Bridal Showers, Clubs and Groups, and Fundraising Events.

Extra Steps: The host is responsible for setting up and pouring (don’t pass the bottles around). Be sure to wash hands before setting out glasses, tasting mats, or other materials putting on the table for participants.  Spread seating out so that host can easily get to glasses for pours.  Have guests wash hands before sitting down for a tasting.

Extra Supplies:  Be sure guests each have their own snacks (individual servings are best).  There are lots of options in the supermarkets from salami and cheese trays to assorted crackers, nuts, even olives in individual packets.

Stop: Making Meat & Cheese boards and passing around for everyone to pick from. And sitting close together.

WINE:  As an independent Ambassador with Boisset, I can lead you through a wine tasting either virtually or if you are in Navarre, I can be lead the tasting for you and your guests.  For a list of Tasting Experiences, click on the picture below.

Small adset for Boisset at a table setting

BEER:  For beer tastings, I suggest supporting local craft breweries.  Buy 3 to 4 different beers from their line–their Top Seller, a Seasonal, an IPA, and maybe one you’ve never heard of or not sure what it is (warning—sours are an acquired taste!).  Plan on pouring 3 people per 12 oz bottle/can.  (10 tastes = 4 beers).

Have one-person research about the beers and share the information on a tasting sheet or in a Powerpoint presentation.  Helpful information to include ABV%, Style, a brief description from the brewery of the flavor profile.

If you are not interested in drinking but still want to gather, think of some new ideas for themed dinner parties.

Small Themed Dinner Parties

No more pot-lucks!  The host prepares and serves everything.  And everyone needs to wash hands frequently.  Please remember to keep these gatherings small (no more than 10 guests).  You do not want to risk exposure to someone in your bubble that may have an underlying condition.  High blood pressure is called the silent killer for a reason!

Extra Steps: The host prepares and serves everything.  If a guest wants seconds, have extra plates available.  Do not touch serving utensils to used plates.  Have a designated area for dirty dishes.  Keep food prep separate from dirty dishes.  Spread out seating.  Follow the 50% rule that restaurants are following.  If your table normally seats 8, only seat 4 now.

Extra Supplies:  Plan on needing additional plates, forks, glasses, and if you need to use disposables then use them.  Have paper towels in the restrooms for drying hands after washing (not a cloth towel).

Stop: Potlucks, buffets, or family-style service.  One person (who has washed their hands) serves the plates for everyone. Community breadbaskets or chip baskets.  You don’t want everyone’s hands that were just inches from their mouth going back into the same bowl.


FAIR OR CARNIVAL:  Many State Fairs have been canceled for 2020.  Instead of missing the fair, create one in your backyard.

Food:  There are lots of frozen products you can buy that are “fair food” (Corn Dogs) and some of the microwavable kettle corn is pretty darn good.  Or you can finally use that Pampered Chefs peeler, slicer, thingy, and make spiral potatoes to fry.  Or make funnel cake or beignets (careful with the powdered sugar.  It can make you cough like you got a case of C-19).  And let’s have ice-cold Corona Beer!!!  Use cheap paper plates and plastic cups to recreate the feel of walking down the midway munching on food and drinking beer.

Games:  Ring toss (made from the empty Corona beer bottles), Putting Contest (solo cups, ping pong ball, and golf putter).  String up lights from the Christmas decorations across the yard and patio then pick your favorite country singer to blast from a speaker after sundown.

Game Nights

Looking for some ideas?  Check out this list and see how many you have already and when was the last time you played them?  Top 50 Board Games

Have a Family Night In: The 50 Best Board Games of All Time

A couple of things to think about when planning a game night:

  • Table big enough to spread out but still able to reach the board.
  • Everyone washes hands before playing if touching cards, dominos, dice, pegs, etc.
  • No eating while playing.



As the holidays approach we need to look at how we gather and make some decisions and communicate changes we are planning.  If in the past you have hosted multiple households for Thanksgiving or Christmas and everyone brings several dishes, I encourage you to NOT do that this year.  Many of the tragic stories about COVID-19 are from multigenerational family gatherings that resulted in several family members passing away.

In my blog post Tips for a Stress-Free Trip to Navarre for the Holidays, I offer a “simplified” holiday meal since many rental vacation units have smaller kitchens and limited cookware.  I also mention that instead of one BIG meal that produces lots of leftovers, cook several smaller meals.  This year may need to be the year we all think smaller.  Focus each meal on a different protein (meat) and adjust the recipes for 10 servings or less.

Trust me, this is hard for me too.  Last year it was just me and my husband and look at all this food! Not shown is the Coconut Pie and Chocolate Cake.

Cake and a bottle of wine on a table

Extra Steps:  If you have family coming in for the holidays or you are traveling to see family, everyone needs to be monitoring their health for a couple of weeks before traveling.  Check your temperature daily for 2 weeks.  Know the common symptoms of COVID-19 and think about self-quarantining before traveling.  Once you arrive, limit trips to stores and area businesses to reduce your contact.

A flyer for Covid-19 symptoms

If your family is NOT going to be together this year due to COVID-19, plan a long Zoom Call and share photos from past holidays.  Be sure to tell everyone ahead of time so they can join using their phone or computer that has their photos.  Nothing worse than someone holding a photo on a phone to the camera of a computer hoping everyone can see it!!!

Hold on to your traditions and experience them together but apart.  Watch the same movie at the same time in different living rooms, then call and talk about it.  Go for a walk and call each other to share who and what you saw on your walk.  Check-in frequently and think of this year’s holidays as a “once in a lifetime” event (at least we all pray it’s the only pandemic we experience).

If you need help planning your holidays or hosting Wine Tastings, please contact me.  I would love to help you gather safely.  You can reach me on my cell phone:  817-797-0870 or by email GCarter@Organized-Occasions.com

Organized Occasions Concierge, Navarre, FL:  I created Organized Occasions to help others make positive changes in their lives.  I focus on three areas:  Nutritional Coaching with Meal Planning and Grocery Delivery; Home Organizing; Event Planning with Wine Tastings from the Boisset Collection.    As a concierge service, I am committed to helping my customers shop for supplies, provide guidance on quantities needed, and introduce local merchants and products while suggesting easy to prepare recipes and ideas.  I believe every day is an occasion to be celebrated.  And every occasion is best when organized!


Gretchen Carter

Owner & Creator of Organized Occasions Concierge

Nutritional Therapist

Personal Shopper

Professional Organizer


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