The holidays are the perfect time to come together with friends, family, and acquaintances to celebrate good times and enjoy each other’s presence. Sadly, during the global COVID-19 pandemic, the opportunities to get together for the holidays have been severely limited in the interest of safety and the public good.
Despite the restrictions, fears, and heightened awareness of cleanliness and hygiene, you can still have a fun, joyful, and stress-free holiday party while keeping everyone you love safe. That said, it does require some creativity and planning.
If you are looking to host a holiday party during the current COVID climate and don’t know where to start, we’ve got your back. While we encourage you to use list guides as inspiration, feel free to riff on some of these ideas and bring your own unique spin to your party of the year.
Here are some of our favorite ideas for a safe holiday party during COVID that can help you bring everyone together for a joyful celebration — without the health risks.
Start With Research
The first and most important step when planning a holiday party with COVID safety in mind is staying in touch with your local, state, and national policies regarding gathering, masking, distancing, and other guidelines for social settings.
At the end of the day, these suggestions should be at the heart of your plan, and you should do your best to follow the best practices for everyone’s safety. You can find easy-to-understand explanations of COVID regulations and best practices on your government websites.
These regulations and best practices leave a lot to the imagination (and a lot of room for innovation!), so here are some ways to make your safe holiday party sparkle.
In-Person or Online?
The biggest decision when planning a safe holiday party is whether you want to host an in-person or virtual event. While the need for virtual-only events may be a bit past us, you may want to host an online event if cases are rising, if there will be elderly people in attendance, or if you have high-risk loved ones.
COVID considerations like these will be unique to both your neighborhood and your social circle. Understand your community’s needs when making these decisions, and make safety your top priority.
If you do choose to host an in-person event, you will also need to decide on a venue, for which we suggest something outdoors.
Consider Avoiding Intimate Indoor Settings
It may be to your benefit to avoid intimate indoor settings for your holiday party. While we are well past the full lockdown of 2020, it is still easier for the virus to spread in close, indoor settings.
Beyond that, outdoor parties can have a magical feeling that can’t be replicated indoors — an outdoor venue may be a good choice both aesthetically and for your health.
For instance, try hosting a Fourth of July barbecue in a field or park rather than celebrating with an indoor karaoke experience.
Consider a pool, lawn games, and other outdoor activities that bring you joy. Don't forget about music and seating as well when prepping an outdoor space to provide entertainment and comfort to your party guests. In the winter, you can even rent portable heaters to ensure that everyone is comfortable and having the time of their lives.
If you do choose to host an indoor event, asking for proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test result can help keep your guests safe!
Keep Cocktails Light and Elegant
No holiday bash is complete without a few signature cocktails, which can add dimension and variety to your party’s drink offerings. When you’re building your holiday party menu, you may want a new way to drink that brings the party — without bringing the hangover.
A great way to make cocktails fun, vibrant, tasty, and lighten the alcohol content is to utilize a bartender's secret weapon: apéritifs. Apéritifs are a category of alcoholic beverages that fall somewhere between wine and hard liquor, full of yummy flavors while remaining light.
With less sugar than liqueurs and less alcohol than your standard rum and Coke, apéritifs are a versatile addition to a festive celebration. Consider using some versatile Haus flavors like Citrus Flower, Ginger Yuzu, and Spiced Cherry as additions to your favorite drinks, or enjoy these all-natural treats all on their own.
Stay Away From Buffets
Just like a great holiday party has to have drinks, it also has to have food. The way that we serve and eat food has changed during the pandemic, and it doesn’t look like these new habits are changing any time soon.
If you are going to cater your party, make sure that you aren’t serving buffet-style treats. People are much more hesitant about group food platters, sharing bowls, plates, and serving utensils with strangers.
Instead, opt for individually packaged, wrapped, or prepared foods, and try to avoid communal food serving as much as possible.
Decor Is a Must
While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of our go-to party traditions, festive decor is here to stay. There’s no reason to compromise on decorations, and going all-in can set the tone for the night of fun to come.
To make decorating even easier, you may want to assign a theme to your holiday party. Some themes are obvious, like a costume party for Halloween. Other holidays like birthday parties open the door to tons of fun options, like a decade party, garden party, or pajama party to make decorating easier.
The more specific you get with your themes, the easier decorating can be! When you get creative and adventurous with your decor, your guests will have a blast.
End your safe and successful holiday party with a bang. While some activities and events are off-limits, you can give each guest at your party some fun to take home with them at the end of the night.
Things like clothing, hats, bags, gift cards, flowers, and other novelty gifts are great options — the world is your oyster! You can also include things like facemasks and hand sanitizer to help your guests stay clean during your holiday party.
A wonderful thing about goodie bags is that you can give them to your guests at in-person events or deliver them to far-away places for virtual hangs. A goodie bag is a great way to make your guests feel connected, even through their Zoom screens.
Focus on Your Staff and Employees
Doing your best to keep your guests safe, supported, and feeling good is the main goal of any holiday party. If you happen to be throwing a holiday party for your office, get your employees in on the action!
Ask your employees what they want to see at the holiday party, what they are comfortable with as far as COVID-19 safety concerns go, and what sorts of food, activities, and themes they may want to see.
Keeping your staff and employees involved in the planning and brainstorming process will make sure the celebration includes elements that excite them, which will lead to more enthusiasm and a more successful party.
Dance the Night Away!
Throwing a holiday party may get a little more challenging with COVID-19 regulations and best practices. Thankfully, you can have a brilliantly successful holiday party with the right ideas in place.
Start by choosing whether you will host an online or in-person event, as this is one of the most crucial decisions that you have to make regarding safety. Plus, all of your planning will depend on whether you need to set up an IRL event or find the best games on Jackbox for the night. If you choose in-person, heavily consider staying outdoors to mitigate risks.
When planning your drink menu, offering a signature cocktail or two that is delicious and light can be a great way to serve alcohol without getting plastered before the main course. Haus apéritifs are a perfect ingredient for a cocktail — and they’re delicious à la carte, too.
Don’t forget that you may want to avoid buffet-style foods and opt for individually-plated or packaged items, and embrace decor to really make your theme pop!
If you follow these tips (with your own unique twists), you’ll be ready to throw a safe and successful holiday party during the COVID-19 pandemic.