Having a Socially Distanced Christmas Meetup at Home
Regardless of where you live in the UK, I think it is a fair assumption to say that lockdown rules and restrictions are confusing at the best of times. It seems like every day something is changing, or there's a new rule you need to be aware of. And while things are hard to keep track of, the news that things are meant to be getting relaxed for a few days over Christmas is just fantastic.
I don't know what those few days before Christmas are like for your family, but for me, it is usually the time of year where my diet mainly consists of biscuits, a few (way too many) chocolates from the Roses or Quality Street tin, and copious amounts of tea; all while hopping from one house to the next to deliver presents. It's always a big thing in our family to come round for an hour or so, check-in, leave gifts and do the rounds.
Now, it is important to keep things safe this Christmas, but there's no telling if someone will still show up at the door with a few presents and expectations of a catch-up. That's why this Christmas I'm being proactive and making any guests meet me in the back garden, but I'm not going to make them freeze themselves just for a chat. I've got a whole game plan which inadvertently came about from doing the garden up over the summer, and I'm going to share with you how I plan on having socially distant meetups with anyone who calls round this Christmas.
We're already covered
I hate awkwardly having to stand in the front door and trying to have a chat with a friend while maintaining distance. You're there with the door half open to let the heating out, and the lighting is terrible if they're over to leave something off in the evening; hence using the garden instead.
Because the weather round our way is unreliable at the best of times, I highly recommend getting an awning or cover put up. We were lucky enough to have a company nearby that did a great deal for an awning, but you don't have to spend around £200 for a cover. Look online for shade sails. These are big waterproof sheets that look trendy and can be hung up in no time at all. Depending on how big the sitting area of your garden is, you would be looking at anywhere from £13 to £60 for a decent one on Amazon. They're so simple to get put up, you'll be surprised how cheap it is.
We've made it nice and cosy
With the important stuff covered, we realised that the family didn't mind sitting outside come rain or shine, even at night. Even in the glorious British summer evenings, it can get quite nippy. We were eying up one of those fancy looking gas patio heaters you see outside restaurants and beer gardens, but again, we wanted to get things sorted on a budget.
That's when we found out about electric infrared heaters, which you screw up on the wall and either wire or plug in. We got a good deal on one at Trade Radiators (check out their radiators here), and it's a case of flicking the switch for a quick burst of heat, as opposed to learning how to light up a big gas thing and know about gas bottles and the like. Keeping it super simple is the easiest approach.
We've made things comfy
When all the lockdown madness started, one of the first things I did was buy what I assumed were way too many blankets and cushions for my garden furniture. We used to be a house that dragged stuff out from the living room, but I quickly grew to hate seeing my sofa cushions slip on the decking or get grass stains.
Now I have my own cushions and throws which are for the garden and stored in their own garden storage box (so they don't mix with tools and the like). The throws are becoming the best idea ever when anyone is popping round. Someone can sit (six feet away) with the heater on, a few cushions on the chair, a throw around them & a fresh cup and you honestly wouldn't even realise you're both sitting outside in the dead of winter.
We've been able to keep the distance
One final benefit of doing all this stuff in the garden has been that when someone comes round, you're guaranteed they're staying far apart. How? Well, it's as simple as keeping garden furniture far apart. Unlike your living room furniture or even the kitchen table, being in the garden gives you as much space as you like to keep chairs apart and have a chat, safe in the knowledge you're more than six feet apart at all times.
There will be no awkward handing over gifts and the like. It's a case of leaving presents sitting out at a distance and asking folks to leave theirs in a specific spot.
Honestly, I can't believe my garden would be the place to be at this time of year, but it has become the perfect space to see those faces you only ever got round to at Christmas while knowing you're still safe. Just make sure you've enough Quality Street to keep everyone happy.