Keep It Real, Keep Six Feet Apart: Top Social Distancing Event Ideas
Four in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the coronavirus pandemic. People are desperate to get back to normal without sacrificing safety.
As the world slowly opens up, there’s hope again for in-person events. But some people can’t get vaccinated, others won’t, and we don’t know how long vaccines protect us. Meanwhile, the CDC lists social distancing guidelines as a top way to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Social distancing events could be the new normal. So, it’s important to think about how to make them safe yet feel relaxed and fun. Read on to learn how to host socially distanced events, come up with event ideas, and decide when a virtual event can work even better.
Social Distancing Event Ideas
If you have to host live events, try to have them outdoors in small groups. According to the Mayo Clinic, the virus is less likely to spread outdoors than in a closed building. COVID-19 mostly spreads through air droplets between people in close contact, so outdoor air lowers the risk of transmission. Plus, it’s easier to maintain distance outside.
Pick the right outdoor space by thinking about how many guests you can host while keeping them six feet apart. Your backyard won’t fit as many people as a public park, for example, but a park can also get crowded.
Here are some ideas for safe, outdoor events:
- Outdoor patio happy hours
- BBQ events with games like cornhole or horseshoe
- Drive-in gatherings and movie showings
- Block parties with carnival-style table stations
- Neighborhood sidewalk chalk art contest
- Outdoor trivia with a picnic
- Outdoor scavenger hunt
- A parking lot mini concert featuring a local band
Preparation is the name of the game for social distancing event ideas. Before the event, pick up hand sanitizer and extra face masks in case anyone needs them. You can use cones, chalk, or ropes to remind people what six feet apart really looks like.
Logistics for Social Distancing
Everyone is itching to get outside and connect with real humans again post-lockdown — your next event can be safe and fun with the right planning.
Spell out any social distancing rules on the event invitations. Will you require everyone to wear a mask or just those who aren’t vaccinated? Will you limit the number of people if more attend than you expect? Will vulnerable people be able to enjoy the event in their own section or earlier than the public open time?
Thinking through these questions helps make the event safe and avoids uncomfortable conversations onsite. Green Bay, for example, hosted a virtual shopping event to support local retailers. Also, the most recent season of Top Chef in Portland hosted a drive-in cooking competition in lieu of a packed festival-style fair.
Here are a few other ways to keep the spread down:
- Tell guests in advance not to come if they’re feeling poorly.
- Skip hugging or shaking hands.
- Check temperatures when people arrive.
- Let guests know where they can find a handwashing station.
- Offer gloves or throwaway utensils if you’re serving food.
- Put one person in charge of making or serving food to guests.
- Remove the lids from trash cans to limit contact with surfaces.
- Regularly clean surfaces with antibacterial wipes.
Should You Just Keep Your Event Digital?
Sometimes, the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor events, or it’s hard to find a space that can fit everyone, or not enough people have been vaccinated to make an in-person event possible. If the logistics seem too complicated, you can move to a virtual event like a live stream.
But don’t just take your in-person event and copy/paste it over to a Zoom meeting. Awkward silences on Zoom are almost as bad as in person.
Look for ways to make the event interesting and exciting for attendees. Can you all watch the same Netflix show while you play a virtual drinking game? Try playing online poker?
Here are some fun virtual event ideas:
- Online games like Pictionary and Scattegories
- Virtual tours of national parks and animal farms
- A digital escape room where you can solve puzzles with your loved ones
- A virtual karaoke competition
- A virtual happy hour with friends
If you’re going digital, keep it interactive. For example, a virtual scavenger hunt could get people out of their chairs, collecting things from around their home.
Yes, going virtual means more planning than a live event. But that extra planning can better engage and delight people.
Find the Right Virtual Event Tool
Plenty of people have been working remotely for the past year and a half. Some are still working from home. So be intentional with your virtual platform to make your event feel original.
With Gather, we’ve created a tool that lets you customize your digital meeting space. You can connect with up to 25 people for free. From a full office workspace to a lounge, you can find the perfect mix of functional and fun. Check out Gather today to see if it’s a fit for you!