Did the Pandemic Permanently Change the Way We Entertain? Nearly Two Years Later, Here's What We Know

COVID-19 ushered in a new era of hosting.

friends hosting dinner party
Photo: 10'000 Hours / Getty Images

Hosting family and friends under pandemic parameters can be stressful. We're simultaneously grappling with anxiety over the health of our loved ones and experiencing every other typical stressor that comes with planning a successful soirée: curating a perfect music playlist, decorating the house, and planning a menu that caters to all tastes (and food restrictions!). Before diving deep into pandemic-safe entertaining, we recommend going back to the basics first. Brainstorm the number of guests you plan to host, the location and type of your get-together, and whether you intend on hiring any professional vendors, like musicians, caterers, or decorators. Once you outline these details, stay ahead of your party timeline. Since the coronavirus pandemic has caused global shortages, giving yourself double time to plan every detail is high-priority.

These are just a few of the effects the pandemic has had on hosting—discover more ways COVID-19 has impacted or changed how we entertain, ahead.

There is more of an emphasis on sanitization—not just deep cleaning.

With increased sanitation, mask-wearing, and social distancing, the pandemic has complicated how we host social events. Whether you're entertaining at home or in another location, according to the CDC, you can take measures to keep you and your guests healthy. For those entertaining at home, carve out extra time to clean and sanitize high-touch surfaces. Keep disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer nearby during your event, too. And don't just clean at your comfort level, but "recalibrate to cleaning at a 'having guests over' comfort level—prioritizing your guests' wellness at all times," says Michiel Perry, founder of lifestyle brand Black Southern Belle.

Another tip? Perry says, "One or two weeks before your gathering, start to deep-clean the areas of your home you may have neglected—the stove, refrigerator, windows, and baseboards—to create a fresh canvas for party planning." And if you're hosting a party at a venue, work with your site to verify that their cleaning and sanitation protocols match up with CDC and your local regulations.

We are hosting more celebrations outdoors and are skipping the buffet.

Throwing a safe get-together means implementing every strategy that reduces the spread of COVID-19. "Create options for people who may feel worried about transmission. When possible, offer outdoor or spaced-out seating options along with a food arrangement that reduces unnecessary contact or spread of germs," explains Perry. In this case, "a table spread or buffet-style dining may not be the best option based on your party size." Instead, hire designated staff to serve your guests from your buffet, which eliminates the need for people to touch the serving utensils at all. Or, provide disposable gloves and chafing dishes with rolled tops. Always promote healthy behaviors and follow CDC guidelines for organizing gatherings. Most importantly, be prepared if someone gets sick during (or after) your event.

Hosts are creating plan Bs, Cs, and Ds.

Give yourself double the time to plan every detail. And "have a backup to your backup, especially if you're hiring a chef or having food prepared for you. You don't want to get a call that the chef can't make it due to pandemic variables," Perry points out, adding that prepping your stock is also important when crafting a plan B. "Rummage through your storage spaces first to find (and potentially relocate) party supplies. Look for any party essentials, including wine glasses, Champagne flutes, and serving dishes. After taking stock of what you need, create a shopping list, and don't forget basics like napkins or extra seating." Once your to-buy list is ready, place your orders ahead of time to cover for any shipping delays, backorders, or time needed to reorder items that arrive damaged. Above all, "Be flexible. Do your best to anticipate and work through the number of variables there are now more than ever before," "Be accommodating and understanding. And aim to create not only an enjoyable environment, but a safe one."

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