Celebrating July 4th in 2020


What’s wrong with this picture?

Nothing, if you think back to previous Independence Days when we gathered to celebrate, connect, and consume with reckless abandon.

At backyard barbecues or indoor buffets, family, friends, food, and fun have always been at the core of this major American holiday. We didn’t worry about how close we were to each other (unless somebody was coughing or sneezing a lot).

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

When ‘social distancing’, ‘pandemic’ and ‘self-quarantine’ became household words this winter, our everyday lives started changing in not very subtle ways, such as covering our noses and mouth when out in public.  Entering a bank wearing a mask no longer triggers a security alert, but not wearing one could.

Adjusting to a “new normal” has become cliché.  So it’s no surprise if this July 4th departs radically from tradition.  The usual floats and parades, marching bands, fireworks, and beachside weenie roasts will likely be canceled or scaled down dramatically.

Even small private celebrations have their do’s and don’ts. Here are some:

  • Don’t greet others with hugs, kisses, handshakes or high fives
  • Do wear masks around food before and after eating
  • Don’t keep a social distance of fewer than 6 feet especially for 15 minutes
  • Don’t have more than 10 people at a social gathering
  • Don’t admit guests with temperatures 100.4 degrees F/li>
  • Do use disposable dishes and utensils
  • Don’t share objects
  • Do provide disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers (with 60% alcohol) in guest bathrooms

But one thing…one very important thing…remains unchanged.

We can still enjoy the food we love.

We can still savor all those holiday treats that titillate our taste buds and lift our spirits.  And do it without risking infection.

We can, so long as guests don’t double dip in the guacamole.  And hosts don’t put out hors d’oeuvres, chips, nuts and other finger food on large trays or in big bowls like the ones in this photo. It’s too easy for the virus to spread when potentially contaminated hands inadvertently touch other morsels next to those they were reaching for.

Here are some tips for how the cautious host can serve up those and other goodies:

  • Put chips, nuts, cheese cubes, and chicken wings, etc. in small pleated paper cups
  • Pick one or two people to cook, assemble, and distribute the hamburgers, hotdogs, and ribs/li>
  • Offer French fries, coleslaw, and potato salad in paper snow cones or fluted cups
  • Bake and put out individual desserts in ramekins
  • Provide already sliced and individually plated pieces of pie or cake
  • Stock beverages in single-serving bottles and cans with solo cups
  • Keep a box of nitrile gloves next to bottles of ketchup and mustard, salt and pepper shakers, etc.

So go ahead, celebrate July 4th this year! But do it safely. Even though you have to skip some of the old traditions, think of ways you can create some new ones–singing songs. playing games, reciting all the ways you are grateful to be living with freedom in the U.S.A.