Socialising at home

Socialising at home

As lockdown restrictions slowly lift, people are rediscovering their innate need for company and conversation. Messaging apps and video call platforms were never intended to replace face-to-face chats and socially-distanced conversations over the garden fence pale in comparison to sharing a pint down your local. Yet pubs have attracted controversy simply for being open, while many other indoor meeting places are currently unable to reopen or are at risk of local lockdowns being imposed.

While our homes are increasingly becoming our social hubs, the new normal requires a novel approach to welcoming guests. There can be etiquette issues to overcome before anyone even crosses your threshold. Below, we consider some of the main challenges and opportunities involved in socialising at home, starting with the topic on everyone’s lips…

Hygiene and safety

The first issue when planning a social event at home involves maintaining the safety of everyone in attendance, including yourself. First off, ensure you are up to speed on the latest government guidance around meeting at home and be sure to follow advice on maximum numbers allowed. Even if it’s your natural instinct, try to avoid hugging, kissing, shaking hands or other contact-based greetings. Ask everyone to leave their shoes and coats in the hall and encourage them to use hand sanitiser. Unless it’s bitterly cold outside, try to leave windows on vent, and encourage visitors to step outside to smoke or make phone calls. You probably don’t need to conduct temperature checks though, since friends and colleagues are extremely unlikely to visit you if they feel unwell.

Garden parties

From toddler meet ups to cocktail parties, the summer months have seen us using our gardens to an unprecedented extent. That doesn’t have to end simply because autumn is here! Barbecues and bonfires generate plenty of heat in cooler climes, and hot tubs contain chlorine which is known to kill the coronavirus. Climate change has hopefully ended the use of patio heaters, but outdoor drinking retains a unique appeal even if coats and hats are involved. In the interests of being neighbourly as well as sociable, inform people whose gardens adjoin yours about any plans to play music or socialise after 8pm. Children in neighbouring homes may be asleep, so keep after-hours noise down to respectable levels.

Meeting up to watch live events

In the absence of mass gatherings, the only way to enjoy many public and sporting events is by watching them at home. Social distancing is pretty much impossible indoors, but try to leave gaps between bean bags, sofas and chairs so visitors from different households can maintain a distance from each other. Because some people are more cautious than others, encourage guests to tell you if they’d feel more comfortable having furniture repositioned.

Alcohol consumption lowers inhibitions and makes us speak more loudly (projecting more moisture particles into the air), so moderation is key.

Dinner parties

For many people, the ultimate social domestic pleasure involves a dinner party. However, a few historic niceties are best avoided at the moment. Don’t serve foods which could involve cross-contamination, like breadsticks and dips or help-yourself entrée platters. Ensure each person uses the same wine glass throughout their visit by investing in cheap charms, which fit around the stems to differentiate each glass. Serve meals yourself rather than allowing diners to help themselves, and extend the same principle to accompaniments. Pre-grated cheese in individual ramekins avoids guests having to pass a cheese grater round the table, for instance.

Despite all the necessary restrictions, it’s still great to meet and socialise with people again, so go for it, but please remember to stay safe!

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