Hospitality During a Pandemic|
Have you noticed that all the new Wayfair commercials feature patio furniture and accessories for outdoor dining and entertaining? Barbecues, patio sectionals and fun patio dinnerware have replaced the plumbing fixture ads. What a smart marketing move.
Some local business owners tell me that sales of hot tubs, patio furniture, landscaping supplies and anything to enhance the backyard are through the roof! Apparently, we’ve all got the same idea.
Physical distancing has changed the way we interact and has forced us all to think “outside” the box! While the warm weather lasts in sunny Saskatchewan, we’ll be hosting friends and family outside as much as possible.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve struggled with the “how” of entertaining with physical distancing. Everyone has different comfort levels about expanding their bubble, and in particular, preparing and sharing food. It’s the serving and touching utensils that gets logistically tricky!
Kevin’s mom turns 85 this month --- Happy Birthday Margaret! Mom loves a big party, but this year, the party will be just our immediate family members.
We have not been together in-person as extended family since late February and planning our first social gathering has required extra upfront legwork. It feels weird.
Our family ranges in age from 4 months to nearly 86 with a wide range of needs. A flurry of texts and phone calls ensued between households to understand who’s comfortable doing what, where and with whom.
Even though there are provincial regulations to guide us, the rules can be confusing, and they don’t account for people’s own beliefs and anxieties (or lack thereof) through the pandemic.
This pandemic asks us all to dig deep to find an extra dose of grace, acceptance and love for our neighbour on every side --- and hosting guests or getting together with family is no different!
So what did our family settle on? We’re having an outdoor wiener roast. It’s Bring Your Own Everything, including roasting sticks, chairs and the hand sanitizer will flow abundantly.
We have to figure out how to share the fire and roast in family units, unlike last year when we could roast and visit with reckless abandon (see photo). And sadly, we won’t get to play our usual fiercely competitive bocce ball tournament.
Kevin’s parents are our “inside friends” and part of our bubble, so I am preparing a separate picnic basket for them (in my super sanitized kitchen!) stocked with wieners, buns, condiments, canned drinks, individual chip bags and cupcakes from Refuge Coffee in Warman. Hint: individually packaged cupcakes make a great alternative to birthday cake when celebrating with a group!
Little decorative touches make simple things feel extra special. I’ll include red and white checkered napkins and hot dog holders and put it all in a red wooden basket.
Once I have this picnic template perfected, I intend to use variations of it all summer long. As a host, I like to provide a welcoming, beautiful and comfortable atmosphere for guests so they feel special. Covid challenges that in every way. I have to re-think hospitality and hosting.
I think it’s perfectly OK and even desirable for the host to ask guests what they’re comfortable with in advance and keep it super simple. Who needs more stress these days?
Don’t take it personally when someone says they’re not OK with eating food prepared by you and they’d rather bring their own. It's not about you.
Don’t feel badly when you serve pre-wrapped ice cream sandwiches and individual bags of chips instead of a beautifully crafted charcuterie board. Trust me. I just did that!
Don’t feel ashamed when you ask people to “Bring Your Own Everything”. It’s fine. People will understand.
I’m curious though, how are you showing hospitality to friends and family during a pandemic? Any tips or tricks? Let me know!
Whatever you do, soak up summer in Saskatchewan!
Be well and stay safe everyone.