family gathered for dinner at a wedding

Planning Tips for the Return to In-Person Events

After a long hiatus, the return to more in-person events and gatherings is finally here. Anticipation for reopenings is growing across the US and Canada: Broadway shows are coming back. Lollapalooza is back on in Chicago. Restaurants and even some bars are open in some cities. Summer camps and organized sports are back in full swing. Wedding guest lists are allowed to be longer. It seems we’re finally back to where we were. At the same time, there’s some sense of hesitancy and caution. Variant cases are on the rise in some states: we’re not out of the woods completely.

Psychologists have recently coined the yet-to-be-official term “cave syndrome,” which attempts to explain the anxiousness some people feel about gathering in person again. Some business owners are approaching reopening with cautious excitement. People want to prepare in case the next challenge is just around the corner.

That brings in the question of in-person events: are we ready for a complete return? The best approach right now is likely to plan gatherings with consideration for those who are still adjusting.

Let these fun and safe ideas for in-person events inspire you to plan your own

Ideas for all types of in-person events

1. Use social cues seed paper wristbands for various comfort levels

seed paper social distancing wristbands

These plantable seed paper wristbands make it easy for guests to see each others’ socializing preferences without asking. Guests can choose red if they want to stay 6 feet apart, marigold if they are cautious about closeness, or green if they are ready to mingle. After the event, guests can plant the seed paper and grow non-invasive wildflowers, leaving no waste behind.

2. Provide pre-packaged food boxes

single-person boxed charcuterie board

Instead of a buffet-style lunch, opt for prepackaged food. Try a boxed charcuterie board—it’s both safe and fun!

3. Prioritize safety and follow CDC guidelines and government gathering restrictions

woman with her vaccination badge on a passport

The most important thing is to let attendees know your event follows government gathering sizes and regulations. Put up signs with reminders about social distancing, as needed. Ask for vaccination badges at the door, if required, and set up hand sanitizing stations.

Ideas for large events, conferences, and trade shows

1. Choose a large or local venue

socially distanced concert
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With lots of space, it’s easier to give attendees the room they need. Draw inspiration from these socially distanced concert viewing pods at an arena in the UK.

2. Make it a hybrid event

a hybrid event where a panel speaker has a video chat with other speakers
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Bring guest speakers to the stage with a projected virtual chat or prerecorded message. It may even be an opportunity to invite multiple guest speakers without the extra cost of flying them in from out of town.

3. Schedule lots of breaks and break-out sessions in smaller groups

a woman pouring herself a cup of coffee

Attending in-person event presentations is a big switch from chiming in virtually. Guests can’t take a break from socializing by turning off their video or microphone anymore. Include more coffee breaks into the schedule. Or set up optional, alternating break-out workshop sessions for smaller groups. You can have a sign-up for these beforehand to control the group sizes.

4. Setup photo backdrops

two women wearing masks and taking a photo together at an event photo booth
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A welcome break from chit-chat, pop-up photo booths encourage guests to celebrate being back together in person. Include a props station with sanitation wipes and reusable masks to make the booth welcoming.

Ideas for smaller events, micro-weddings, and personal gatherings

1. Have pop-up picnics

a luxury popup picnic

Skip the set-up and have a dreamy picnic set up by a catering company, such as Pop Up Picnic or Popovers and Peonies. It’s an easy, intimate, luxury experience, perfect for smaller dining.

2. Host curbside or backyard concerts

backyard concert at a person's house with attendees
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There’s no need for a stage and lights. Bring the concert to you by hosting local live musicians to play acoustic sets for your guests.

3. Make sure serving staff, caterers, and vendors wear masks

servers wearing masks at a wedding
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Guests who are still getting used to being together in person will appreciate that the event organizers are staying safe with masks and proper sanitation protocols.

Going back to in-person events is going to be a transition period for everyone. With care and caution, it’s possible to plan a fun and welcoming event that guests will love.

seed paper business promotional products

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