With restrictions placed on most restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and even some grocery stores, there’s no denying it’s hard to have the type of meal you want, when you want it – let alone dining with other people. Whether you have something to celebrate or just want to get some sun with your friends, a great way to be together (and stay safe) is by planning a socially distanced picnic. It may feel strange at first, but after a while, you’ll realize distance doesn’t take away from the good time of being together.
Plan the meal
Eating outdoors can be tricky. You have to contend with weather, figure out comfortable seating (or lack thereof), and even fend off a bug or two! The best plan of action is to keep it as simple as possible – easily portable and packable food that doesn’t require excess utensils or dishware. The same goes for drinks: if you’re able to, skip the extra cups and drink from cans, or better yet, reusable water bottles. You’ll keep hydrated in the summer sun and be environmentally friendly at the same time. Consider making sandwiches, ordering a pizza, or splitting a big salad for your main course. The easier to serve, the smoother your picnic will go.
You’re socially distanced for a reason. Though you can’t wear a mask while eating or drinking, definitely plan to have face coverings handy when heading to your picnic destination or while within six feet of other people you haven’t been isolating with. A mask can be stuffy and uncomfortable in the summer heat, which is all the more reason to space out! You can take your mask off as long as you’re a safe distance from the next person. It’s also a great idea to bring hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes, if you have them handy. They make for a safe and easy cleanup!
Be intentional about seating
A traditional picnic would have your entire group on one blanket, at one table, or otherwise in close contact. But since these aren’t traditional times, you’ll need to shake that up a bit! From the moment you take off your mask, you need to make sure you’ve given adequate space to the people around you. Since you can’t share a blanket, if you’re sitting on the ground, consider using towels as individual blankets and spreading out in a circle. You can still see everyone, and no one will have to get itchy from the grass. Or better yet…
…Encourage your guests to bring their own camp or porch chair! If they’ve got their own blanket or sheet to fit their family, they can sit together while distanced from others they don’t share a household with. Another item that should be for personal use only is silverware. Whether you buy your own pack of plastic cutlery or bring some from home, suggest to your guests they bring their own supplies, so no one has to worry about catching anything from someone else’s home. Usually sharing is caring, but right now it’s best to keep your own items to yourself.
From there, a picnic can progress as usual! Talk, laugh, and share stories – not germs – just as you would on any other beautiful summer’s day. While it may not be the same as sharing a blanket in a park or sitting around one dining room table, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures – measures that will keep you and your loved ones safe, and help move everyone out of these difficult times once and for all.