Event Planning Amidst a Pandemic

by Indiana Lee

As the world begins to open up and people start to settle into the “new normal,” you might be wondering how on Earth you’re supposed to plan a special occasion or event amidst a pandemic. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, people have had to cancel or postpone thousands of events. Even California’s famous music festival Coachella was rescheduled! After so much disappointment, it’s no surprise that you feel hesitant about putting any definitive plans on the books.

While you’re probably not organizing one of the biggest music festivals in the world, that doesn’t mean the special occasions you’re planning are any less important. Whether you’re trying to coordinate an anniversary trip or wondering if that family reunion will actually be able to happen, you need a roadmap for how to move forward with events in these oh-so-uncertain times. These tips will help.

Think Outside the Box

Since you’re reading this post, you likely already know that your special occasion won’t be able to happen exactly as it would have before the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation has changed. 

It’s okay to take a moment to be upset. At the same time, you need to embrace the fact that things are different now. If the event is important enough, you should be willing to invest time and energy into coming up with creative, safe solutions. 

The earlier you start thinking about your special occasion, the better. Doing so gives you more time for innovation. Get inventive and incorporate activities that adhere to social distancing guidelines like hiking, biking, metal detecting, and beachcombing. If you’re hoping to take a trip, research less-visited travel destinations. Is your heart set on going somewhere international this year? If you live in the USA, Canada could be a good choice. Montreal is more off the grid than other popular cities.

As you’re brainstorming alternatives, don’t overlook virtual options. While not always ideal, virtual get-togethers on video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Skype will likely be your safest option. This is even more the case if your guest list includes highly vulnerable individuals. If you were hoping to host a larger event like a retirement party, Zoom has the option of having breakout rooms that recreate the feeling of having individual tables.

Keep Other Rescheduled Events in Mind

Whether your occasion is virtual or in-person,  it’s important to keep in mind the new dates for rescheduled events. With so many events from the spring and summer pushed back to the fall, there’s certain to be overlap.

Before you send out invitations, check to see what other events fall on or around the day of yours. You’d hate to make your horseracing-obsessed family choose between Uncle Jim’s 63rd birthday party and watching the Kentucky Derby.

The same goes for any travel plans of your own. Prior to committing to certain dates, check the city or community calendar for your destination. Just imagine trying to find an available restaurant for your long-awaited anniversary dinner on the same weekend as everyone is in town for the rescheduled Boston Marathon. Yikes!

Communicate openly with attendees

When planning your special occasion, looking at the calendar is a good place to start. You should also speak with as many guests as possible. Whether you’re planning and packing for a girls’ weekend or organizing a surprise party, it’s wise to communicate openly with the attendees.

Understand that not everyone on your guest list will be receptive to your event. After months of social distancing and the fact that coronavirus remains a threat, don’t be shocked if people are reluctant to be in crowded groups. If and when you hear “no,” try to be gracious and don’t dismiss their concerns.

Furthermore, it’s important to consider the current economic situation. Due to COVID-19, many people have lost their jobs. Recognize that the person who RSVPed “yes” to your destination wedding six months ago may no longer be in a financial situation to attend.

If, in your own relationship, you’re looking for a more frugal way to celebrate a special anniversary, try recreating your first date or watching your wedding video. These wedding anniversary ideas on a budget will still make for a special evening.

Look at the big picture

Recognizing the economic impact of the pandemic is part of looking at the big picture. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the excitement of your special occasion and forget that, despite businesses starting to open back up and travel restrictions loosening, the world is still in the midst of battling the coronavirus. You should keep that in mind as you make your plans. Know that there could be a second wave that causes you to postpone again.

To stay flexible, refrain from putting more money down as deposits than you’re comfortable losing. If possible, purchase insurance for your event or trip. Follow reliable sources like the CDC website for up-to-date information and instructions.

Since a vaccine is months away at the earliest, you don’t want to postpone every special occasion until further notice. However, you must recognize that you (along with the rest of the world) are operating under the “new normal.” From masks and gloves to social distancing, your special occasion will likely look different. The way you go about planning it should reflect that.

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