The past year has left many people feeling incredibly lonely and isolated—especially those who did their part in self-isolating and keeping the most vulnerable in society safe. If you are someone who has followed quarantine guidelines and health and safety protocols last year until now and you already miss hosting meals for your closest family and friends, there are safe ways to do that now. Here are some tips for hosting fun and safe barbecue parties during the pandemic.
Invite less than five people.
There’s no going around it: Mixing households during the COVID-19 crisis comes with many health risks and increases your chances of making it a super-spreader event. If you plan to hold a barbecue party, consider only inviting less than five people—or maybe just having it for people you already live with.
Aside from limiting your guest list, make sure you vet everyone who’s coming. Invite those whom you know are taking the pandemic seriously and have been social distancing just like you. If any of your invitees feel sick, discourage them from coming. These may seem extreme, but it’s the best way to ensure that no one in your party gets sick. There will be plenty of time to party and celebrate with an unlimited number of guests when the virus is gone.
Hold the party outdoors.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that gatherings be held outdoors since it lessens the risk of infection among attendees. Holding a barbecue party in a pandemic entails that everything your guests could ever need is easily accessible to them in your yard or wherever you’re planning to hold the party. Here are the main features you need to consider:
- Tables and chairs in the shade, especially if you’re having the party in the summer
- Separate coolers with ice to maintain drinks and food’s temperature
- Disinfectant wipes and alcohol-based sanitizers in different areas of the yard
- Toilet paper, soap, and alcohol-based sanitizers in the restroom
- Enough utensils to prevent your guests from sharing items
You can also ask your guests to bring their utensils, sides, and drinks, especially if they’re concerned about infections as well.
Remind everyone to keep a safe distance.
Another key component of ensuring your barbecue party’s safety is by reminding everyone to keep a safe distance. Remind everyone to save the hugs and kisses for now and to wave to each other from a distance of at least six feet. Ensure that your tables and chairs are also placed so that your guests have enough space from each other.
Create just one direct path to the restroom, so your guests don’t have to pass by other areas of your house. Encourage everyone to wear masks, which of course, they can take off when you start eating. While there is no hard and fast rule about how many hours we can spend with people we don’t live with, the rule remains that the longer we spend time together, the higher our risk for infection. Set a “closing time” for your party and encourage everyone to go home at a specific time.
Invest in quality equipment.
Many fires from the summer of last year were attributed to outdoor cooking, and the number of fires caused by grilling increases every year. If you want to keep your guests (and your home!) safe during your barbecue party, ensure that you practice the necessary safety precautions and invest in high-quality equipment. Some safety measures you need to take include:
- Only use charcoal and propane grills outdoors.
- Don’t leave open flames unattended.
- Get rid of fat or grease buildup on your grills.
- Keep your kids and pets away from the grill area.
- Have a water hose always ready and nearby.
- Some of the best types of wood for barbecuing include hickory, mesquite, oak, and apple.
If you use a wood-burning grill or oven, you might need to invest in a high-quality hanging crane scale to help you measure and move the wood or charcoal, especially if you don’t have immediate access to these materials in your area.
Watch the Numbers
There is no one-size-fits-all solution or answer to the question of what is allowed and what is truly safe. What you can do is to observe the number of infections in your state or even your neighborhood. Identify if your yard is big enough to accommodate the small number of guests you want and if it allows for social distancing. Every effort to keep everyone safe is always worth taking.