With most businesses having reopened their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic and Covid-19 cases rising in some states, social distancing measures still remain intact. With that being said, life looks extremely different, as social distancing measures and mandatory face coverings in public settings will be enforced in schools and businesses alike across the world. Because social distancing is our new and temporary normal, it does not mean that the social aspect that comes with life can’t still be in person and FUN – things just have top be done a bit differently! While our social lives may look a little different right now, it does not mean that we cannot still gather and enjoy special times with the people that we care about. That being said, I have listed a 11 ways to social distance, while STILL having a social gathering!

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1 – Get Outdoors!! Let’s Take a Hike!

Ever heard the phrase “let’s take a hike”?! Well, it may be time to do just that! Hiking is an excellent way to get a group of any size together while still keeping some sort of distance. It is also a fun way to explore a new place, especially one that may be in your local area that you may have never explored before. Think it may be hard to convince some of your friend circle to go for a hike?! Well, most places have several local parks that offer a variety of hiking trails, ranging from those that are handicapped-friendly and on a smooth trail only to those that involve walking and climbing on rocks. There is definitely a hiking trail for everybody! Personally, I have always wanted to explore many hiking trails and parks in my area, but never had due to academics and other social commitments. I suggest when going with a group of 5+ to either split into smaller groups, especially when passing other groups on trails in order to maintain a social distanced. Splitting up while hiking can also allow those in your circle who are more avid hikers to take a trail that and at a pace that they would enjoy more than those in the group who are not as familiar with the art of hiking.

2 – Pick a Pumpkin, ANY Pumpkin! Go Pumpkin/Apple/Berry Picking!

With the ever-changing seasons in Virginia and North Carolina, I surely do love the fruits and vegetables that come with them. Berries, peaches, and flowers of all kinds in the Spring/Summer and pumpkins and apples in the Fall always means that there are several different fresh fruits and vegetables to choose from. Usually, most of the farms that offer picking of their fresh goods are small, local businesses that especially need our support during this new, temporary season of social distancing. With berries, pumpkins, and apples galore, there also comes a great photo opportunity for you and your crew! I mean who doesn’t love to see a pumpkin shot (or a few) on their Instagram feed?! Not only will you get some great goods, photos, and memories, but you will also be supporting locals within your community.

3 – Let’s Make a Picnic!

Ever picture a dreamy picnic basket filled with a baguette, cheese and meat platter, and maybe even some grapes?! Well, it may be just the time to invest in a picnic basket and blanket! Picnic’s are such a great way to get together with friends and share a meal together. You can also easily share a meal together, as long as no one shares plates or serving utensils (plastic or paper is probably the way to go in this case) and you’re potentially sitting on different blankets/towels depending on who lives together. It may also be fun to do it potluck style where each person person brings a different dish to share! Wanting to share a meal on a gloomy or cold day?! You can always gather in a common area that allows for eating as long as you’re spaced out far enough from one another. Moreover, no picnic has to be as fancy as to offer a baguette, cheese, and meat platter unless you choose to!

4 – Craft Party Anyone?!

Wine and design anyone?! I know I surely do love getting together with friends AND leaving with something handmade to commemorate that gathering. Crafts are definitely a great way to go when it comes to social distancing while still socializing. You and your friends can easily get together and spread out in either a common area like a big long table such as in a dining hall or sitting in a big circle, while talking and doing something fun together. When deciding on a craft, I would suggest that one person in the group at least be familiar with it to some extent before doing it as a group. Additionally, each participant should chip in for the cost of the crafting supplies, as they can definitely add up REAL fast. One great Covid-related craft would be to either handmake, embroider, or even bedazzle masks, which can make for a super fun photo opportunity as well! Whether you choose to have a wine and design, a mask decorating party, or even both, you will definitely be sure to make a precious craft that has even more amazing memories attached to it. 

5 – Who Doesn’t Love a Game Night?!

What college student doesn’t love Cards Against Humanity?! Cards Against Humanity is definitely an extremely popular card game amongst many college students, but it is not the only one! There are a multitude of card and board games out there for you to play – Apples to Apples, What Do You Meme, and the likes. The best part is that these games make for excellent social distancing in-person activities, as they can be practically played anywhere, whether outside or in a common area. This great asset of playing games, allows not only for a fun time but also for tons of flexibility and convenience on where to meet and get the crew together!

6 – Cafe Date for the Win!

As a college student, I have always found cafes to be such an easy and convenient way to meet up with friends. Not only are they a perfect spot to hunker down and study at while enjoying some tea or a latte, but they’re also great for simply catching up with others while still social distancing. Although Starbucks may be your favorite coffee joint to hang at, I also recommend scheduling some of your hangouts at more local cafes within your area. Most local cafes that I have been to have such a unique feel to them that I would not be able to find at any Starbucks location. Additionally, local businesses need our help and support more than ever before, as they have most likely lost a lot of business due to the coronavirus pandemic. You will not only be helping out some locals in your area, but you’ll also discover a new and cool hangout spot for you and your buds. 

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7 – Go Explore a Park!

Outdoor sports/games, hikes, picnics, walks, and dogs galore! A park pretty much has just all kinds of people doing all different things. That being said, parks are such a great way to social distance and get your group of friends together. Luckily, most cities and towns have plenty of parks to choose from, meaning that you can probably explore a brand-new park nearby or frequent a local favorite. One of the best things about parks is the fact that there is a ton of things that you can do while there, such as outdoor games, a picnic, a photoshoot, and even just a simple stroll. Keeping all of this in mind, you can easily plan the gathering of your group’s liking at a park!

8 – Missing Chips & Queso?! Plan a Restaurant Outing!

Ever since I was a little girl, going out to eat at restaurants has always been a treat for me. With Covid-19 keeping many of us at home, restaurant outings feel even more special than ever before. While restaurants can be a nerve-wracking place to host a social-distanced gathering, as long as you and your crew wipe down your seats and wear masks upon entry into the restaurant, then you all will be in good shape for a great time. I mean, who hasn’t missed chips and queso during this new era of social distancing?!

9 – Taking a Stroll is Good for the Soul!

With social distancing not going away anytime soon, even something as simple as taking a stroll around campus can be a great way to catch up with friends. The Covid-19 pandemic has definitely affected many of us when it comes to our mental health, and simply getting outside and going for a walk is such an excellent way to help mitigate our potential mental health struggles. If one of your friends on campus has a dog, simply inviting yourself to come along for a walk (or two) is an excellent way to hang out with them and their fury fellow. You can also reach out to a few friends to schedule routine walks and become each other’s walking buddies. If you are new to regular walks or exercise of any kind, I have found it to be a struggle to get myself to do anything active without having someone there to hold me accountable so a walking buddy may be beneficial for you. Besides the great mental health benefits that walking has, you can also give yourself some time to simply stop and smell the roses and to enjoy the flora and fauna in your area. 

10 – A Fun Beach/Lake Day Under the Sun!

Lilly Pulitzer once said: “be the sunshine.” Why not channel your inner Lilly Pulitzer and spend a say soaking up some Vitamin C in the sun with a day on the water?! Beaches and lakes are excellent ways to spread out and social distance with a group of people, while still having a good time! I’ve been to the beach a few times this summer, and I have not felt nervous each time I went, as every group distances themselves from every other group. One suggestion I have when going to any beach is to wear a mask on your way from your car to the beach and back, as you will potentially be around more people as you do so. In fact, some boardwalks in certain states, such as Delaware where my beach house is, require masks on the boardwalk. However, you are free to take your mask off when you arrive at your spot in the sand to sunbathe and enjoy the water. Whether going by yourself or with a group, I 10/10 highly recommend a beach or lake day with your gal pals!

11 – Grab Your Smiles for an Outdoor Photoshoot!

Who doesn’t love a photoshoot?! I know I don’t! Social distancing has made us think and get creative when it comes to ways to hang out in general with others, however, you cannot discount the photoshoot favorite. Luckily, pretty much every college city/town has a variety of places outdoors where you and your crew can go and get some cute pictures. Is there a mural that you’ve always wanted to check out or a park?! Why not start there! As for a photographer, there is never anything wrong with getting your crew to use their phones to take the photos or even a friend with a camera. Another great option would be to get a classmate of yours who has a photography business and help support them, but only if your group is willing and able to pay for their services. As for masks, it may be fun to show off some of your cute masks in your wardrobe or go without them for a photo or two. Whether or not you and your group decide to model your outfits in your masks or take them off only for photos (either way I highly suggest if you do choose to take your mask off to ONLY do it for the photo opp), you can sure make for a fun day!

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BONUS – Cheers to a Vineyard/Beer Garden!

You heard me right: vineyards and beer gardens make for excellent social distancing grounds! I’ve been to a few vineyards and beer gardens this summer and found that people are pretty good at social distancing there. That being said, each is a great place to have a social distanced cocktail hour (that is if you’re 21+). Outdoor venues, especially for vineyards, can be super fun and they usually offer plenty of gorgeous views for photos as well. Both beer gardens and vineyards typically have an upbeat atmosphere, making them a great place to let loose a bit as well. I say cheers to that!

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has drastically shifted our world especially when it comes to the social aspect, there are still many ways that we can still see our friends and family in-person. Personally, I see the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to get creative about ways that we can still have a good time yet maintain social distance. Hopefully, I have helped give you some suggestions of ways that you can still get together with your crew soon. While social distancing may still be suggested, socializing and gathering with others is never cancelled.

XOXO Katie <3

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