As we get closer to the holiday season, an obvious question becomes more and more pressing: How can we prepare our home for responsible holiday gatherings during COVID?

If you’re in a temperate climate like California, the answer might be in your own backyard. Outdoor spaces offer a much more open environment that is optimal for social distancing. While caution is still needed, having a small holiday gathering is much more feasible if you have an outdoor space to celebrate in.

Outdoor Living

There are many reasons to consider preparing your holiday feast and taking your gathering outdoors. Aside from having more space to spread out, it is much easier to clean. Having an outdoor kitchen and outdoor furniture made of nonporous materials, or that is easy to wipe down quickly, helps prevent the virus and germs from hanging around. It also offers your party a certain flexibility that the indoors does not. Taking advantage of the mild weather and moving outdoors is an easy way to add an extra layer of safety.

This is a great time to turn your yard into the event spot of your dreams. Outdoor events are going to be in style long after COVID is gone. Install the outdoor kitchen of your dreams, and start a new holiday tradition of meeting at your place for the holidays.

Outdoor kitchens and backyard entertaining set ups are the perfect place to put your creativity to work. Include choices like a grill, a wet bar, a fridge, seating areas, and even a wood fire pizza oven. Hire a designer to see what the possibilities are for your space.

Planning Your Setup

Laying out your seating plan may take a little more thought than usual this year. It’s important to remember to keep people as spaced out as possible, whether it’s spacing out tables and chairs, or setting up different eating areas around the backyard. An extra step you can take is making sure that each table has hand sanitizer and wipes for easy clean up afterward.

Cold Fronts

Sometimes things don’t go to plan and a chilly day can throw you off. You can choose to set up event tents with heaters to give guests a cozy spot to retreat to between activities. Installing a windbreaker can help cut down on the wind chill. Safely utilizing fire heaters around the area can also help warm people up, and give the added benefit of a cozy, festive, ambiance.

Roles We Play

To keep things consistent, it’s best to outline everyone’s role ahead of time. For example, assign one person to prep, one person to cook, and one person to serve the food. By limiting the number of people who perform each task, it becomes easier to ensure everyone is being careful and following sanitation guidelines.

Keeping Kids in Mind

Planning for children’s activities can be difficult even under normal circumstances. By setting up different activity stations in the yard, you can encourage playtime and safety. Games like cornhole or horseshoes can be played with minimal contact, but still be engaging enough for kids to get involved in.

Thinking Ahead

In order to keep setup time to a minimum, it’s important to plan ahead and keep up with regular maintenance. Making sure that your grass is mowed and weeds have been pulled might seem like a small detail, but it’s one less thing to do the day of your gathering.

Taking the time to set up a hand washing station either at the hose or outdoor sink also takes another potential issue out of the equation, giving you the time needed to prepare everything else.

Safety First

Things might seem more tangled than usual this season, but there are plenty of non-traditional ways to celebrate with your family and friends. Whether it’s a zoom call, an intimate gathering with your housemates, or a backyard BBQ, it is still valuable time with your loved ones. No matter how you choose to celebrate the holidays, remember to put your and your guests’ health and safety first.