Have you grown tired of virtual chats and miss meeting up with friends for fun? Unfortunately, many of your favourite activities may still be cut back amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. But the good news is you can still enjoy the traditional trappings of summer. It just requires some creativity for staying safe at the same time. Here are some ideas for safe, fun summer gatherings.

1. Host an al fresco “BYOE” celebration

You can still throw a party, but make it “BYOE”: as in, “bring your own everything.”

While group gatherings are safer outdoors than in, that doesn’t mean you should let down your guard. And your guests may prefer to eat food they have prepared themselves, too. You can ask them to pack their own meals and utensils as well.

What if you still yearn to host? Consider having the meal catered, since restaurants and commercial kitchens are likely to have high sanitation standards. If you order in, ask that a server plate the food as an extra precaution, rather than serving buffet-style.

2. Set up a DIY backyard movie theater

Some movie theaters may be making plans to re-open. But many Canadians are still hesitant to mingle with the masses. Fortunately, avoiding crowds doesn’t mean missing out on the fun of a night at the movies. Instead, create your own at-home theater. All you need is a projector and a wall, fence, or white sheet.

Have your guests bring their own snacks, drinks, and chairs, and you can arrange them two metres apart. Consider making it a weekly event everyone can look forward to. You might also invite movie buffs to vote on the film to accommodate a variety of genres and tastes.

3. Take a virtual trip or tour

The government may lift some travel restrictions within Canada. However, the borders are likely to remain closed. But that doesn’t mean you have to completely “miss out” on an international jaunt. Many high-profile destinations, landmarks and museums are offering virtual tours so you can visit from the comfort of your home.

You can also create and serve themed snacks to really get in the mood. You might discover you don’t miss the crowds, heat or hassle of travel.

4. Include older friends and relatives in your celebrations

Even when larger groups begin to gather, many older or health-compromised individuals will remain wary of socializing in groups. For their health and safety, you can offer ways they can join in the fun from a distance.

For example, ask a guest to record and stream a wedding service that a senior guest can watch from their own home. Or, give them advance notice of a birthday party so they can send a gift for the honoree to open on-camera. (Bonus points for sending a sweet treat in advance, allowing them to join cake time!) At a family reunion, suggest attendees record special words the recipient can enjoy over and over.

5. Always opt for the safer choice

It’s easy to get carried away when we want to get back to our usual social lives. But the current moment demands an attitude of “better safe than sorry.”

While some restaurants will be open for indoor dining, outside venues are still a safer choice. Just make sure to follow the rules recommended by the federal government and your provincial or territorial government. In most places, it’s still recommended to wear a mask for everyone’s health and safety.

The government urges people to wear facial coverings when you can’t maintain a two-metre distance from others. This can happen in crowded public settings, such as:

  • stores,
  • shopping areas and
  • public transit.

This summer, it’s wise to err on the side of safety as you make choices for you and your family. But that doesn’t mean the fun times can’t go on—it just requires a little creative planning.

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