Host virtual game night, a backyard movie, or plan a safe barbecue gathering, as suggested by two professional event planners.
overhead view of blue and white ice dyed table setting
Credit: Chelsea Cavanaugh

While pool parties, barbecues, and family picnics have traditionally been popular ways to gather over the Labor Day weekend, things are going to be different this year because of social distancing guidelines. "Labor Day won't look exactly how it used to," says professional event planner Lisa Cokinos of LC Events. "But some activities are still easy to pull off as long as you follow safety protocols."

Not only are certain group activities feasible while practicing social distancing, but Cokinos says they can be advantageous, too. "The biggest benefit to celebrating Labor Day while social distancing as a host is reduced costs and labor, since your guest list will likely be limited to a small family or friend group," she explains. "While benefits for an attendee include a much-needed outlet for socialization as well as a safe and controlled environment."

Looking for ways to enjoy the Labor Day weekend while practicing social distancing? We asked Cokinos and event planner Elle Anderson, founder of elleaevents for their ideas, and here's what they had to share.

Gather virtually.

Whether you play a classic board game with family members or an adult drinking game with lifelong friends, Anderson says videoconferencing platforms are a great way to safely celebrate Labor Day online with loved ones both near and afar. "Plan an art project that everyone can do in real time on a Zoom call or a host a virtual game night," she says. "Try to think of activities you loved doing before social distancing, and see if they can be recreated through a group video call."

Take a trip to the beach.

If you're lucky enough to have a beach or lake in your area, Cokinos says there are still ways to safely spend a day at the beach. "Make sure everyone in your party has a mask to wear to and from the car, as well as while walking on the beach or lakefront to a designated spot," she says. "Mark off an area for your own family specifically with beach chairs, towels and umbrellas, and pack plenty of hand sanitizer and wipes for trips to the restroom."

Throw a backyard barbecue.  

While traditional block parties are out of the question when social distancing, Anderson says you can still throw a small outdoor soiree with close friends and family at your home on Labor Day. "If you have a barbecue, you can grill outdoors and ask guests to remain six feet or more apart," she says. "You can also set off some small fireworks to make it feel like a true summer holiday."

Host a virtual movie night.

No Labor Day weekend would be complete without a good film viewing, which is why Anderson suggests planning some kind of movie night for family and friends. "You can host a virtual movie night on Zoom or Houseparty, and have everyone rent the same movie," she says. "Or, set up an inflatable screen in your backyard for a private outdoor showing." 

Whatever you do, be cautious.

Whether you decide to spend the weekend grilling with a small group of friends or at a crowded beach, Anderson says safety is the most important thing to remember when planning Labor Day activities. "It's easy to let your guard down when you're having fun, especially when alcohol is involved," she says. "No matter what you do, make sure everyone involved has access to masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes so they can stay safe while having a good time celebrating."


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