Column: Making pandemic-safe gatherings fun

Safely gathering with friends is again becoming a possibility as researchers release new recommendations of rules to follow. Kristen DeHaven | Photo Editor

By Mallory Harris | Staff Writer

Going out and hanging out with friends has been a lost activity since the nationwide quarantine started in March 2020. Staying inside, self-care and self-isolating became the new mantra of summer 2020.

However, now that some college campuses have opened back up, amusement parks like Disney World are operating again and there’s a built-up stock of toilet paper, there are certain ways everyone can safely gather and hang out.

To celebrate large moments in one’s life, the new party scene came in the form of drive-thru parades and yard signs. Large colorful signs that spelled out “Happy Birthday” or “Congratulations” were ways to signify that joy was still present in the world. Then came the sound of ten car horns blaring down the street with people waving their hands outside the sunroof to bring a bright smile to someone’s face.

While these party tricks can still come in handy, college students can’t put out yard signs in front of dorm rooms.

There are other ways to easily maintain safety but still “hang out” with friends on a college campus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a whole page dedicated to personal and social activities, including a section discussing how to host a gathering safely.

To summarize the page, it’s best to go outside, social distance, wear masks, wash your hands and limit the number of people. All of these tips are nothing new to college students, which is why the Los Angeles Times has broken down 42 different ways to minimize the risk during parties. From talking with guests, seating charts, timing schedules and food preparation, there are many points to focus on within the article.

To make it easier, here are two more detailed ideas of how to gather safely from the suggestions on the websites and other fun information.

1. Picnic Date

Outside? Check. Prepared food? Check. Picnics today have become known as grand romantic gestures, but I suggest bringing them back down to a casual level. Make it fun with costumes, a theme or a fun activity. Two friends who haven’t had the chance to enjoy nature or catch up over a meal might find a park, a basket and a blanket a new treat.

2. Parking Lot Date

Following the same guideline from the picnic, this takes FaceTime to a whole other level. I’ve seen groups of people (no more than ten) park their cars in a parking lot, open up their trunks and just chill with each other. This idea literally takes hanging out and spreads it out. While meant for a larger group of people, different parking lot games can be played, music can be blasted and friendships can deepen.

College students can still safely gather together while abiding by basic guidelines. Some of the best tips by the CDC are being aware of those around you and planning out events in advance. If you have questions about the specific guidelines placed by the university, check out the student guide.

Despite the pandemic, don’t lighten up on a friendship when society and technology have provided ways to interact with each other.