Pandemic party

COVID-19 has forced event planners, hosts and guests to rethink and get creative with their events. As the fall and festive winter season approach, we chat with two local experts on what people can do to continue their event in a safe and practical manner.

1. Communicate “If people can know the situation they are going into, I think that will help cut back on the anxiety,” says Katie Carpenter, co-owner and lead planner of Ever Something. Tell your guests in the invitation if an event will be buffet, or if masks are required inside, or how many guests are expected. Carpenter reminds hosts that it’s OK if a guest won’t attend — these are not normal times.

“Everyone has different levels of comfort,” says Annie Brady, owner of Annie Brady Design. “Be flexible with dates and numbers of people and realize these are unprecedented times and what feels good to someone on one day doesn’t on another, so give others some grace, including yourself.”

2. Head outdoors “As we head into the holiday season, doing things outdoors is a bit trickier, but I think having an outdoor party would still be a great idea,” Brady says. Take a movie night, for example. She suggests setting up campfires for small groups and providing individual picnic baskets for each group with a stash of smores. Show a movie on a big screen and gift personalized blankets.

Carpenter says an al fresco Thanksgiving might provide the chance for dessert and hot toddies around an outdoor firepit.

3. Creative confines “This is a great time to consider themes because themes help the creativity flow,” Brady says. She suggests a “Not ‘Home Alone’ Anymore” party where the iconic holiday movie is played with individual servings of food and drink to match.

4. Dial in Even if a party can only be held online, it can still be special, both party planners say. Carpenter says a recent Zoom bachelorette party was themed and the event featured a hired DJ. Each attendee wore costumes and created a background to show their personality.

Brady encourages making the party interactive, and the delivery of a nice party package with food or drinks is a nice touch.

5. Group up For any event in these pandemic times, Carpenter suggests smaller groups. For larger weddings, that means seating families and friend groups together and rethinking food displays and serving options.

Both Brady and Carpenter have had several weddings shift dates, themes and locations, but it’s the act that matters most.

Carpenter adds, “It comes down to what is the focus of the event — in our world it’s weddings — keeping the eye on the fact that this is going to look different than imagined, but you are still marrying your best friend.”

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