Missing your friends and family throughout the pandemic? You’re not alone. This summer, Boulder County homeowners & homeowners across the country are getting used to a “new normal.”

We can’t get back to the usual summertime BBQ’s and happy hours with coworkers just yet. While the “Stay at Home” order has been lifted, the “Safer at Home” orders are still in place.

These require us to take conscious efforts to protect the safety of ourselves and others by keeping gatherings to groups of 10 or less, with a 6-foot distance between each person. Preferably, everyone should wear masks, especially if the gathering is indoors. And as always, it’s important to keep your hands clean by washing them after eating, going outside, and touching shared objects like doorknobs.

While these restrictions are for good reason, they do come with valid concerns about mental health.

Our need for social connection still remains. In fact, we’re biologically wired to gather in groups in order to feel emotionally and physically safe.

According to neuroscientists, whenever our brain isn’t preoccupied, it defaults to being social. Evolution knows being social is a great way to feel needed, stimulated, and happy. In fact, connection can be as good for you as quitting smoking.

Don’t resign to being alone on the couch all summer just yet. With a little creativity and the right safety measures, you can still reap the benefits of social connection this summer.

People around the world have been getting creative and finding ways to connect, even from a 6-foot distance. Whether you’re looking to get crafty, enjoy a movie night or even get your groove on, there’s likely a safe way to do it.

Practice Safety First

The first step to take to ease your mind and enjoy a stress-free social gathering is to make sure it will be safe for everyone.

  • Keep your gatherings to under 10 people. Look at it as an intimate experience with those you love most!
  • Keep it outside where there’s better air circulation. Who doesn’t want to enjoy that summer sun?
  • Keep hand sanitizer out where everyone can access it.
  • Encourage or require guests to wear masks.

Here are 3 fun ideas for hosting a “socially distanced” party this summer.

1. Create an Outdoor Cinema

Movie night just got even better!

Rent or purchase a projector and grab a movie that’s a natural crowd pleaser, and you’ve got the makings of an outdoor cinema.

Arrange some comfy seating like bean bags, picnic blankets, and lawn chairs spaced 6+ feet apart. Add some sparkly lights for ambience, and you’ll have yourself a movie night to remember.

Encourage guests to bring matching plates, blankets, and bean bags with a unique pattern on them. This ensures everyone only uses their own dishes and comfort items. Plus, it adds a fun twist!

To take your outdoor movie night to the next level, create the full movie feel with movie theatre themed grab-and-go “concessions” like sodas, bags of popcorn, and boxes of candy. Put some hand sanitizer on the table so people can stay clean and safe while they enjoy their snacks.

2. Support Local Businesses with an At-Home Happy Hour

Take it from homeowners Mike and Nancy Naranjo of Wisconsin: the joy of happy hour lives on!

Mike and Nancy’s neighborhood hosts what they call a “Driveway Happy Hour.” Everyone grabs their favorite drinks and lawn chairs and head out to their front yards to catch up with neighbors doing the same thing.

Eventually they started a Facebook group that gained hundreds of members in the Wisconsin and Illinois area. You can use the same idea with a group of 10 or less friends and family members.

Then you can step it up a notch by ordering to-go cocktails, wine, beer, or food from a local bar or restaurant! Many of these businesses are struggling due to the fact that crowds are restricted right now. You and your neighbors can pitch in to help support those local businesses. You can even choose a different local establishment to support each time, and give yourself an at-home restaurant and bar tour.

3. Dance (From a Distance)

There’s nothing to help you shake off the woes of the world like a good old fashioned dance party.

Dancing is a proven mood-booster. Moving our bodies to music produces the endorphins we need to battle anxiety and depression and live in the moment.

Studies show the blues-busting effects of dancing last well beyond your boogie-session, too. According to a study on teenage girls, attending dance class regularly caused positive effects that lasted up to 8 months after dance classes ended!

Just like with happy hour, you can designate a certain time each week for a neighborhood dance party, where someone is assigned the DJ duties for the night and the neighborhood busts a move together from a safe distance.

Or you can duplicate this idea with a few pals in the backyard. Create a playlist with fun thematic songs like “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer or “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by The Police.

The Perfect Lawn for Yard Parties

Having fun with a few friends this summer isn’t impossible. Just grab some cocktails, some lights and some lawn chairs, and the possibilities are endless. No matter what you do, it will certainly be a party everyone remembers.

But if you’re planning yard parties this summer, you’ll want to make sure your lawn is looking at the top of its game.

Read our guide on how to maintain a healthy lawn >