Social Distancing Must Come to an End
Someday (hopefully soon!) you’re going to need this post. In some places around America and throughout the world, you already do.
We’re starting to see businesses around the U.S. opening up again, churches are just starting to have people inside their buildings again, and dinner parties will become a normal thing (hopefully!) soon.
It isn’t happening all at once and it’ll be difficult and time-consuming but, unless something unforeseen arises, the world will soon be back to a sense of normalcy (though I assume it will be a new normal).
When everything opens up again, we’ll have a choice to make. We can slide back into busyness and exhaustion OR we can use this as an opportunity to decide what things we will let back into our lives and make it a point to form the relationships we’ve been missing during this time.
How well do you know your neighbors?
Imagine yourself sitting in the front yard drinking a cup of coffee. You greet each neighbor by name as they shuffle off for their days. You know where they’re heading for work and what sports their children play. One of them might join you for a Bible study later in the afternoon.
In most of America, that would be a pretty rare scene. Individualism reigns and we hate it but we don’t know how to stop it.
Social distancing is an opportunity for us to restart – to look at what really matters and what we’ll allow back into our lives.
Because that’s true, we can focus on the relationships we’ve not have time for before.
That is where an “End of Social Distancing Party” comes in! This is the perfect way to get to know neighbors and make a conscious choice to help shift the culture of your neighborhood and life toward inclusion and relationship.
Where the End od Social Distancing Party Originated
I have tried to get to know my neighbors. We are new to the area and it’s been challenging but we’re making an effort. Our children help tremendously with this because they are so outgoing and the kids in the neighborhood normally spend a lot of time playing together.
That is… until Coronavirus hit.
Now the courtyard outside our house is quiet most of the time and my children are sad.
I imagine all of the other kids in the neighborhood feel pretty similar (and almost certainly their parents do too!).
The “End of Social Distancing Party” was born out of this situation. We are looking forward to this gathering whenever the opportunity arises, as a way to move forward with these relationships.
Today I want to talk about how you can host one too!
These parties will be an option for different people at different times but what a beautiful opportunity they can be!
Today we’ll chat about a few of the things we plan to do and how to customize this gathering for YOUR area.
AND at the end of this post, you’ll find an opportunity to get a FREE printable invitation you can use for your own gathering.
Before You Schedule an End of Social Distancing Party, Think about This:
We don’t know exactly what this will look like.
To be honest, we have no idea at this point what it will look like when social distancing finally comes to a close. In some way or another, this is a transition for all of us.
Before you schedule an after social-distancing gathering, just make sure you’re honoring the laws around you. Everyone has varying opinions about how this should be handled, and I understand that. But, don’t schedule a group gathering that could get you in trouble or bother someone else’s conscience.
This is a good opportunity to honor the Lord, the government, and the feelings of your neighbors by holding off until the time is genuinely right.
I trust you’ll be able to prayerfully discern this in your own area.
How to Plan an End of Social Distancing Party
1. Decide Who You Will Invite to the Celebration
Ideally, this will be an opportunity for you to get to know your neighbors better so consider that as you work through your guest list. (Although there’s nothing stopping you from hosting more than one of these gatherings!)
Invite the people in the houses closest to you. Maybe you can add a friend or two from church. Maybe even one of your elders would be willing to pop over.
Infusing your gatherings with both Christians and non-Christians is a great idea to provide evangelistic and relational opportunities.
But try to stay focused on a neighborhood outreach. It’s easy to get caught up in fellowship opportunities (which are awesome!) and forget serving those who actually live around us.
2. Decide Where to Host
The good news about when social distancing appears to be winding down in America is that the summer months make outdoor hosting much easier.
Coming down from so much fear and anxiety surrounding Coronavirus will take different people different amounts of time. For some, it will be easier than others. A good way to respect everyone’s individual struggles is to have this gathering outside when possible.
Social distancing is usually a little easier when you’re outside and you have the benefit of knowing you don’t have to worry as much about the surfaces inside someone’s house or the air circulation.
If you have a front yard, I encourage you to use it! This is particularly helpful with a neighborhood gathering because those who are considering attending can see who’s there and what they are walking into which tends to lower their defenses.
If you don’t have a suitable front yard, a well-marked backyard can also work well (consider these ideas to get yourself ready now!)
You can also use a common area for this – a neighborhood playground. a picnic area or just a grassy spot all work well to help people feel like they’re coming to neutral territory after their nerves have just been so ravaged with this pandemic life.
Note: Remember to check ahead of time if there are any special rules about reserving the space you want to use — you don’t want to have your neighborhood show up to someone else’s party!
3. Decide the Timeframe for Your Gathering
I say this loosely. I recommend blocking off an entire day to devote to the prep and clean-up of a gathering like this. However, setting a time-frame for the actual gathering is a must because it will affect a lot of other decisions you will make for this gathering.
Here are some ideas:
Start time: 10 am
Offer: brunch snacks and a quieter gathering
Start time: 12 – 1 pm
Offer: full lunch
Start time: 2 – 3 pm
Offer: snacks and sports
Start time: 5-7 pm
Offer: full dinner
Start time: 7-8:30 pm
Offer: a fire and s’ mores
Or you can combine all of those things and make it a full-day event.
Whatever you decide to do, just know you will enjoy it much more if you don’t feel the need to fit a lot of other things into the day.
4. Pick a Weather Solution
What will you do if it rains? How will you notify people?
Maybe you can just move it inside the house if it rains (and you can write that on the invitation).
Or maybe you need to reschedule if it rains. In this case, write the rain date on the invitation and consider letting them know you will text anyone who RSVP’s if you do need to reschedule.
5. Decide What You Will Provide
Consider these questions:
Will you be providing all of the food, drinks, and decor?
If not, how will you ask others to participate?
Some options include (although there are others!):
- You can make this a potluck and ask neighbors to sign up when they RSVP for a dish to pass.
- You can provide the meat and ask each neighbor to bring a side dish they enjoy.
- You can ask neighbors to bring their own meals with them.
- You can make it a gathering between meals and just offer snacks.
Honestly, this is really dependent on what you’re comfortable with and what your budget allows. Any of these options can work well so don’t feel pressure in any direction – do what you can with what you have and people will be blessed.
6. Decide how you will handle those who don’t RSVP
You can just make it open for anyone without an RSVP and plan on enjoying anyone who comes (difficult for food planning) or you can ask for an RSVP to help determine the amount of food to have on hand.
You should settle in your heart, and maybe write it on the invite too, that you will welcome anyone who chooses to come, no matter what.
Remember, some people don’t think of RSVPing as a way to show respect and care toward their hosts and they mean nothing by their lack of reaching out.
Enjoy the fact that they’re there. Everyone can handle slightly smaller meals. You can always switch to peanut butter and jelly for the kids. You can be creative but you can’t always fix relationships if you’re unkind initially.
7. Decide How You Will Invite Guests to the End of Social Distancing Party
Will you send out an email or Facebook message to all the neighbors inviting them to this celebration? Will you drop by with an invitation to the party?
My plan is to print out the invitations at the bottom of this post and hand-deliver them to my neighbors. I’ll take the kids with me (although a dog is also a good option!) because they’ll love it and people love to talk to kids. My hope is that our neighbors seeing our faces and speaking to us ahead of time will calm some anxiety about what they’re getting themselves into if they show up.
8. Decide on yard games
In my opinion, having some simple yard games ready to go makes all the difference in the success of an outdoor gathering where not many people know one another.
Kan Jam is a great option for an end of social distancing party – super easy to learn, hard to perfect and easy to stay away from each other
Cornhole is another widely popular, super simple backyard game that can keep the conversation and laughter going for hours.
Some other simple but fun ideas are:
Water balloons (if you have enough space to not to soak the grown-ups)
Sidewalk chalk — especially if you’re having this in a common area is fantastic but even in the driveway, it can be great!
9. Decide on Decorations
Another nice part about being outside is that God has already done most of the decorating for you. Simple tablecloths and maybe some inexpensive flowers in the center of each table is enough to brighten the space and make it ready for hosting.
You can add balloons if you want to make the space brighter and more easily seen.
You can even ask neighbors to bring a lawn chair or picnic blanket with them so you can all enjoy the time together and you don’t have to worry about providing enough chairs for your end of social distancing party.
Seriously, this is such a beautiful opportunity to get to know neighbors and maybe even shift the closed-off culture of your neighborhood toward inclusion and connection.
We’ve all been suffering from a lack of human connection over these many weeks and when this is all over, we’re going to be aching for time with people (we already are!).
But many of our neighbors don’t know what that will look like moving forward.
Let’s use this as an opportunity to showcase the beauty of community and point them to the Creator and Source of real connection – Jesus.
Inconvenienced for the Glory of God
We can enjoy all of the thought and work that goes into pulling together a gathering like this because we are looking not at what is most convenient for us but what is most glorifying to God and helpful for our neighbors.
The truth is, God isn’t really concerned with our level of convenience but he is concerned with our level of conformity to Christ.
What a beautiful opportunity we will have coming soon!
I can’t wait to hear about your parties!! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram so I can see what you come up with! #endofsocialdistancingparty