Fun Summer Gatherings (while Social Distancing)

Summer is the time of year made for lounging by the pool, hosting backyard barbecues and spending quality time outdoors with family and friends. With gathering restrictions and social distancing measures in place in many communities, it’s time to get extra creative to continue summertime traditions while adhering to safety guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

summer gatherings during social distancing

How do you pull off a fun backyard barbecue or Fourth of July party while keeping everyone safe? Here are some suggestions.

General Tips:

  • Follow your municipality’s guidelines on how many people are allowed to gather at once.

  • Be extra considerate of elderly relatives and other high-risk individuals – you may want to avoid inviting them to the social gathering and plan one-on-one visits instead.

  • Share your summer gathering game-plan and safety goals with guests in an email ahead of time - this way everyone can be on the same page. 

  • Use props like hula hoops, beach towels or picnic blankets to mark off safe distances in your lawn for families and friends to sit. (CDC experts recommend 6 feet apart or greater whenever possible.)

  • Ask guests to wear face masks, especially if seated and talking for more than 10 minutes at a time.

  • Make party rules signs before your event and strategically place them as reminders to your guests. ( ‘Enter through the side gate’ on the front door, ‘Masks please’, ‘No loitering near the food’ on the food table, etc.)

  • Make sure you have ample hand sanitizer, soap and paper towels available in various locations.

  • Ask guests to take their temperatures at home before heading out and request anyone with a fever or who is feeling ill or has been in contact with someone ill to stay home.

  • If you have a lot of guests you’d like to invite, consider using SignUp to schedule your social gathering in shifts – ask guests to sign up for a one or two hour time slot so you can manage the overall headcount at any given time.

Party Area:

  • Have guests come and go through the side gate rather than through your house.

  • Limit access to just one restroom.

  • Avoid gathering in the kitchen and other common areas in the house – ask guests to only enter the house if the designated restroom is needed.

Food & Drinks:

  • Think personal, single-serving of food – either ask guests to bring their own picnics or think in terms of grab-and-go like individually wrapped sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, cookies in muffin cups, ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, fruit skewers, kabobs, individual bags of chips, (anything with no serving spoons required). 

  • For condiments, provide individual packets rather than shared squeeze bottles.

  • Offer single-use beverage options rather than a common pitcher – juice boxes, canned soda, bottled tea, beer, etc. or ask guests to bring their own ice chests.

  • Ask that there be no gathering near the food table. Perhaps mark off the area with tape or with a jump rope so guests have a visual reminder to get in and out.


  • Remember those hula hoops you laid out on the ground to spread people out for social distancing purposes? Use them to host a hula hooping contest! 

  • Set up cones or a similar type of target, then use the hula hoops to play a game of ring toss.

  • Make your event a dance party by simply turning on some jams to get people moving – just be sure that everyone is staying within their own hula hoop, on their own blanket or within their designated safe area.

  • Think lawn games that are possible while social distancing – bocci ball, cornhole/bean bag toss, lawn darts, yard dominos, yard dice, ladderball, archery, lawn bowling, human inflatable bumper bubble ball, horseshoes, can jam, washers, badminton, croquet, Kubb, Beersbee, etc.

  • Play water games: if you have access to a pool, host a cannonball splash contest, pajama pool race (yes, wearing pajamas and swimming to the other end of the pool), or diving for treasure (sunken somethings). If a pool isn’t an option, hand out water squirters, plan a water balloon fight, or set up a slip n slide in the yard – be sure to mark off safe distances for participants with cones or other props.

This will be a summer unlike any summer before, but don’t let that stop you from having fun! With a little extra preparation, a safe and healthy summer is ahead – you can do it!


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