With vaccination rates in most areas remaining strong, the president and many state officials have identified July 4th as an opportunity to loosen restrictions and return to some normalcy. It will feel so much more meaningful to celebrate this Independence Day, to connect with loved ones after a year of grief and isolation, with so much hope on the horizon!
As always, we at Mighty Well are keeping in mind how these holiday celebrations may not have the same impact for each of our guests. And so we’ve put together this guide for a safe, accessible, meaningful, and fun-filled day:
Yes, COVID-19 is in retreat, but it is not gone. It is still important to follow CDC guidelines (and local restrictions) to keep your guests safe. The key points to keep in mind:
- The smaller you keep your guestlist, the safer it will be
- Anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated should wear a mask and socially distance when indoors
- Get outside as much as possible! Studies indicate that as low as .1% of transmission occurs outdoors. If you do move indoors, opening windows can make a big difference.
- Make sure you have space for those wanting to stay distanced to have that option.
- Ask ahead of time that anyone feeling sick or with a potential COVID-19 exposure stay at home. It is sad to miss out, but would be even worse to put everyone at your party at risk.
- Remember general hygiene — some of our hosting skills may be rusty. Remember that communal bowls of finger-foods or crowded serving stations can be a germ fest. Keep things spread out and easy to grab separate portions as much as possible. Have a sink or hand sanitizer available for hand hygiene. Even if you’re all vaccinated for COVID-19, our immune systems are out of practice, and it would be a bummer if all your guests went home with a cold.
Perhaps most importantly, check in with your guests ahead of time — share what the setup will be, and see if anyone has concerns. You may not know that you’ve invited someone who is high-risk or immunocompromised, or just not comfortable yet with the loosened restrictions. It will help put them at ease to know what to expect when they arrive. And remember to have empathy for everyone’s different comfort levels, both in these conversations and at the party itself. We’re all moving at our own pace after a tough year.
Want more tips for keeping your high-risk guests safe? Check out our tips for staying safe with chronic illness.
make it accessible
It’s always important to remember that people’s experiences at parties may be greatly impacted by factors like chronic illness, disability, and food sensitivities. To someone who routinely struggles with accessibility, nothing says “I love and care about you” like someone making a party work for their needs. Consider sending a message to your guests asking if anyone has food, accessibility, or other needs that they’d like you to be aware of. Even if no one has a request, everyone will feel cared for. If someone does reach out with a request, listen with empathy and an open mind. Ask clarifying questions. And then do your best to come up with a plan to accommodate their need. Maybe have a quieter area for people who can’t follow conversations in loud noise. Or keep the sauce on the side for someone who is sensitive to seasonings. These small adjustments can make a world of difference!
For more on making your party fun for all, check out our Spoonie Summer Barbecue Guide!
make room for processing emotions
What a year it’s been. Emotions may run high — joy at seeing those we’ve missed all year; grief for those we’ve lost; overwhelm at transitioning from quiet isolation to boisterous celebration… not to mention the incredibly complex emotions leftover from racial injustice and violence, political polarization, and tension or even fear around COVID-19 boundaries. It is important to acknowledge that these emotions may come up for people. Go in with realistic expectations, that tears (both happy and sad) may be part of the experience, and that it’s ok. Afterall, holidays are more meaningful when we can use them to take stock of where we are.
Hopefully, joy will be the most prominent emotion, and you can all ride the good feelings together! If you do find that someone is processing very different emotions than you, that can feel uncomfortable. Try to show empathy and give them space to feel what it is they feel. It is also ok to express that you are in a very different headspace and right now you just want to celebrate, but that you would be happy to set a different time and space to meet them on their level.
Looking to dig into those more complex emotions and use this holiday to process the challenges of 2020? Check out last year’s guide for creating meaning on Independence Day.
food, fun, and festivities
Most of all, we wish you a joyous day of connection and fun! After a year of chaos and challenge, it’s time to feel the love. To lean into the fun, we recommend setting up a lively playlist and perhaps some lawn games like corn hole or ladder ball! And of course, good food makes everything more fun.
Check out our summer recipes for fresh and festive foods that are easily adaptable for most food sensitivities!
We wish you a beautiful July 4th, full of love and hope!