Plan a socially distant July 4

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While some elements of life are returning to normal as we deal with the effects of COVID-19, summer activities and celebrations loom on the horizon with questions about what best practices will allow us to celebrate with family and friends safely.

While most Fourth of July celebrations tend to be cookouts or small gatherings of friends, the good news is that even with restrictions, those celebrations can still happen unless restrictions have been tightened since this was written.

I’ve included some tips and tricks for displaying your food and beverage options for the day to reduce the risk of any cross contamination to keep things clean and your guests healthy. It’s important to note here that if any of your guests are feeling under the weather on the day of your celebration, they are asked to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


If guests are going to be touching doors, handling food, playing yard games, etc., you will want to make sure that there are stations located near doors, food stations and throughout the event to ensure that guests are encouraged to sanitize their hands after touching surfaces shared by others.


While “grazing tables” with big bowls of chips and snacks for people to just grab and go are very popular at cookouts and house parties, this is the first place we would recommend a change when planning your July 4 event. Large bowls of chips can be substituted for individually wrapped bags of chips, candies and desserts.

In the event that you planned to make food rather than purchasing pre-made snacks, you can easily pre-portion things out in 5- or 9-ounce plastic cups, and then take them out on trays to display a few at a time. This allows for guests to “grab and go” smaller portions, without standing around one communal table and eating throughout the day.

Although it will increase prep time on the planning side of things, you can ask that if it is going to be a potluck-style event where friends are each taking a dish to share, everyone is working to aid in the process, so as not to overwhelm any one person with prep work. If you do opt to have others aid in the food preparations, I would suggest asking that everyone wears food-safe gloves during the preparation process.


Just because there may be more work required to portion things out individually, that also leaves you more room to create beautiful Pinterest-worthy food displays.

Companies like Jones Soda have blue and red berry sodas that provide a great grab-and-go option. Things like cake pops and push pop desserts are both fun and functional when entertaining in a socially-distant culture.

If you’re opting for making batch cocktails or drinks rather than serving individual sodas, you can buy Mason jars for each guest and fill them with a set of silverware and napkins. This can serve a dual purpose because guests won’t have to touch other’s silverware, and you will also have a glass designated for each guest that can be labeled so no one gets confused and drinks someone’s drink by mistake. While this 4th of July may look different than years past, it’s important to remember that we can still find ways to celebrate together. If you find yourself planning a Fourth of July celebration and have questions about best practices, feel free to send us a message at meagan@idomagnolia.com and tag us in your celebration photos @magnoliagroveweddings on Instagram.

Meagan Culkin is the owner of Magnolia Grove, an event planning and design company based in Wilson that offers planning, design and event staffing services for weddings, corporate and social events. Contact her at meagan@idomagnolia.com.