So Close, Yet So Far – A Socially Distanced Shabbat Nachamu Kiddush
With Tisha b’Av behind us, Shabbat Nachamu is the perfect time to get together with friends and family. But with this year’s COVID-19 restrictions, the question is: how?
True, we may not be able to have business as usual. But with some creativity and planning, you can host an outdoors, socially distanced kiddush that keeps everyone reconnected but safe.
The cornerstone of your socially distanced event is individually packaged goodies. Every guest breathes on and touches only his own food! (Why did we EVER think it was ok to eat food that a crowd handled?)
Look around online and in the stores, and you’ll find many, many options for classy pre-packaged, single-served foods:
- Individual nut packs
- Individually wrapped cookies
- Water or juice or soda bottles
If you have a specific look or color scheme in mind, you can make your own foods and package them with the presentation ideas below.
Individually wrapped food gives you the chance to make every serving beautiful and personal. You can decorate with color-coordinated ribbon or printed stickers.
Because of COVID-19 and because you’re outside, you’ll definitely want everything to have a cover. There’s a whole world of stunning packaging options to choose from:
- Cake or muffin dome holders
- Cupcake boxes
- Muffin or cupcake bags
- Cookie bags
- Small containers with lids for cut-up fruits or veggies
Some of those packaging ideas are so pretty you can arrange them on the table as-is. If you need more pizzazz, try putting the food packages into baskets or on trays. Use ice buckets to keep the drinks cold.
Outdoor set up
Setting up the kiddush will take some thought. Your set up should encourage guests to both spread out and stay in their places – not what happens naturally at a kiddush.
You may want to explain the set-up in advance when you invite the guests. Do you want everyone to wear masks? If so, let them know in advance.
- Arrange chairs in pairs, 4–6 feet apart.
- Have enough chairs for ALL the guests so that everyone can sit instead of mingling. This may mean limiting the guest list.
- Set up multiple small buffets to keep crowds from gathering. Or hand each guest a “kiddush kit” when they walk in, so they have what they need without congregating.
- Keep the kiddush short and sweet.
Taking your party outside has its drawbacks, but also its rewards. For starters, in the full bloom of summer, the outdoors is a pretty backdrop all on its own.
On the other hand, there’s the heat, the bugs, the rain. . .
So, first, treat your yard for mosquitos and other bugs a few days before the event. You don’t want your guests to be too busy scratching and swatting to notice the décor. If you can, set up tents or patio umbrellas to keep your guests in the shade.
You can’t do anything about the rain, except daven and hope for the best. But even a rainy night can turn into a sunny morning. When you decorate the yard, though, keep in mind that any decorations have to survive from Friday afternoon until Shabbat morning. The good news is that the trees, fences, or walls in your backyard make it easy to hang eye-catching and waterproof decorations like these:
- Try blossom bottles from save-on-crafts.com. Hang bottle vases from trees, fences, or walls for a simple, beautiful look.
- Balloons can be colorful and fun, bold and dramatic, or soft and pastel. Choose your look with this easy decoration.
- Waterproof string lights come in all different colors to dress up your kiddush.
Don’t set the tables or put our food until closer to the kiddush. Once you do, you can dress up the tables with satin table runners. They’re so inexpensive you won’t mind if they get ruined from the outdoors. Add vases of flowers to make your backyard come alive.
Be aware that when it comes to social distancing, everyone has their own comfort level. Create an atmosphere where every guest’s feelings are respected, even if they’re different from your own.
And accept that some of the invitees on your list may choose not to come. Honoring each other’s wishes may be the most significant way to connect these days.
For more ideas of Grab 'N Go Treats for your drive by event click here.