Time to socialize again! 5 tips for home entertaining

By Michele McGovern

Many older adults are vaccinated and ready to safely socialize again. Home entertaining is on the agenda for people eager to be with family and friends after a long hiatus.

Not only is socializing fun, it has health benefits for older adults: Socializing keeps feelings of loneliness at bay and helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills, according to Mayo Clinic Psychologist Craig Sawchuk. Socializing also boosts your levels of happiness and well-being.

So here’s help for vaccinated older adults who want to socialize again – five tips for home entertaining.

Consider safety first

When entertaining in your home, you still want to keep safety top of mind and practice. Ideally, you can socialize outdoors.

However, if you’ve been fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say you can gather:

  • indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.
  • indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks or staying 6 feet apart, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • or participate in activities outdoors without wearing a mask except in certain crowded settings and venues.

See the grandkids, explore new favorites

Many older adults’ top priority is to visit grandchildren again. First, remember you’ve likely missed a year or more with them. They’ve grown and might not like to do the things you last remember them loving to do at your home.

Before grandkids arrive again, you might want to check in to see what they like to eat and do these days. Or you might ask them to bring new favorite foods and activities for you to try with them. And you can share your new favorites.

Get everyone involved

Beyond visiting grandchildren, many older adults are eager to see children and extended family – reunions on a smaller scale, perhaps. Don’t feel you need to do it all. No one has entertained much – or at all – for more than a year. So let everyone pitch in for any gathering you have.

Ask others to bring different courses in the shared meal. Or, if you love to cook, ask them to bring beverages and throwaway dinnerware.

You might even tap family members to drum up the entertainment. Is someone a gifted (or not-so-gifted) musician? Does someone have lots of board or yard games? Who knows how to set up an online game and keep people involved in it?

Keep it light

It’s been a tough year, and we’re all inclined to talk about the hardships of living under pandemic restrictions, and in some cases, heartache. If your home entertaining event is planned for a positive purpose, try to keep it that way.

You can’t dictate what people talk about, but if you recognize a negative tone or subject, try to steer people off it. You might mention the bright side of the subject. Or just say, “Let’s focus on something more positive. Jim, how’s your garden coming along?”

Know and hold your limits

It’s been a while since many people have socialized in person. So it might be a good idea – for several reasons – to limit the time and amount of interaction you have when entertaining at home.

You don’t need to have – or attend – a blowout party any time soon. Host just two or three others at a time. Ask everyone to bring their own food, beverages and/or settings. You might want to stick to just drinks for a couple of hours, rather than drinks, a meal and games that can go on indefinitely.

Remember that when you’re entertaining in at home, it’s still your home, your rules.

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