Social Distance...Entertaining

Updated: May 29

A year ago I could never have imagined being told getting together for dinner with some friends or celebrating a milestone birthday, graduation or special event would only be possible with 10 people? Maybe... a few more could be invited, but everyone needs to be 6ft apart.

Who would have thought??!!


It just seems crazy that we have not seen anyone except the checkout person at the grocery store. As the weather warmed up this week and I found we were able to get outside more I finally decided to create a new plan to ENTERTAIN AT HOME while social distancing. It's not like I haven't set up different tables before, but I just never had multiple tables for so few people. Well, I also never wore a face mask before....it is what it is. Had to make it work somehow for me and for you as well. I have clients inquiring how and what can they do for special events. Milestone birthday, graduations, BIG anniversaries are still happening. I have a few ideas for you but to start just "dinner at home".


I was excited to receive these gorgeous blooms from Lewis Miller's "Flower Flash". I had seen his post on instagram about how he was bringing this gorgeous selection of flowers based on a recent "flower flash" he did in front of one of the NYC hospitals. I ordered it as soon as I saw and heard about the Flower Flash Box inspired by this Flash. Lewis Miller donated 100% of the proceeds of this Flower Flash Box to the Greater New York Hospital Association. These front line workers don’t stop and I couldn't think of a better reason to buy flowers!


I had originally planned to have dinner inspired by this event last year in the Hamptons. While this event was for lots of people we used the yard in many ways. Ok.... the motive may be different this year, but nevertheless it works pre -virus and in the middle of it as well!


As it starts to warm up and entering our 3rd month of quarantine I think everyone is itching to get outside. While restrictions have not completely lifted, there are some options to be "outside" safely distanced and yet still enjoy the company of friends and loved ones.


I will be the first to admit I have been completely neurotic and my immediate family has not left the house except for groceries and drugstore nor has anyone come in.

My deliveries and mail go into "quarantine"... I know I'm nuts go, ahead and say it...it won't be the first time I have heard it.:)

This week I finally had family come over and we are going to have a meal outside - 6 FEET APART.

While I have plenty of room for 4-6 people to do that outside, I realize you may not have a large table and when celebrating a birthday or graduation, more people will be included. I get it. I understand....and I have a few ideas for you!



This was a party we coordinated last summer in the Hamptons. Quarantine was not an issue at all, but we did want to utilize the beautiful yard. These fun tables gave us a place to showcase more of the beautiful fabric and outdoor theme we were creating anyway. Using the yard and creating "family tables" is a great way to have any summer party.

We just used kids tables on the ground, covered the perimeter of the table with a cloth over the grass and threw lots of pillows on top.

Covered lanterns work best outdoors as there is no need to worry about wind and or safety with fire.

These mini lanterns are all from Jamali Garden.

The beautiful flowers were from a local shop in the Hamptons, Sag Harbor Florist.



Plenty of room between tables and the tables can be made in the appropriate size to sit a family or quarantine crew together.


To create this "social distance event. You could use lots of blankets for "seating" in the yard or beach depending on how the weather holds out....


I had planned this would be the layout for my dinner last night but just as we got to get outside with nice weather my allergies kicked in like a full blown windstorm!!!


My planning for my first "social distanced dinner went something like this...



Things don't always go as planned...and if we have learned anything being at home for almost 3 months, just go with the flow. I couldn't stop sneezing (allergies- I'm dying!!!) being in the yard and it felt like rain could be near....so I ended up setting up my tables on a porch not 6 feet apart but 8 ft at minimum. If you have the space, why not? Not only is it safer in this day and age of the virus but it also allows for comfort for moving around for guests and chairs.



It actually turned out amazing! I created 2 tables as planned for us and our family.


I have literally cooked every dinner ( and many lunches) for the past 75 days and as much as I love to cook, (but literally hate cleaning up, and I actually DO have a very good helper in my house) I had just had it. I reached out to my friends at Marcia Selden Catering for their "boxed" meal. Not only was it safe knowing it was made in a professional kitchen that takes all kinds of precautions, the food was amazing! It could not have been any easier.

The food comes completely boxed ( beautifully) and they do supply disposable plates, silverware and napkins. I chose to have appetizers like shrimp cocktail, cheese and antipasta, as well as crudite with a dinner that included a yummy salmon and steak with accompanying sides. The steak was cooked perfectly and salmon so good, I am just amazed how they can make their delicious catered food I have had for so many clients at events work just as well as "take out" food.

This is hardly a "BOXED MEAL, IT IS A GOURMET MEAL"!!

They also can provide cocktails!



Everything is disposable and to go.

For small groups, graduation and other events where it may be a few families you could "tag" each box with the families names.

This allows you to set each table/area for guest ready for arrival and everyone takes their place and there is less mingling and interaction. while this new norm still may not seem normal we are excited to be able to see loved ones and celebrate in a safe and easy entertaining way!


I ordered their famous margarita mix and a bottle of Rose'.

They even supplied cute little mini bottles to mix the drinks and acrylic cocktail glasses!



I could eat this lemon tarragon dip with a spoon! It is meant for crudite' but I ate it with the crudite', shrimp, salmon...couldn't stop.

( gonna have to do that virtual workout class double today!)



The main course was salmon and fillet. I set up our guests at their own table far enough away to be safe, but close enough to have a current conversation together the whole time!



As I said my original plan was a picnic in the yard, just like the party above and this one below we did in recent years in the Hamptons.

One of my favorite summer parties had this fresh and summer look.



We mixed lots of shades of blue, denim, tie dye and batik fabrics. While this party was on the larger scale, this would easily work with blankets or small tables in the yard.

The mass of cheery sunflowers were from Frank Alexander NYC.




Many of these items were rented or belong to the client. I love this look so much and think it works well for any summer celebration. I found lots of great items at a reasonable price to create this look at home on a smaller scale. Take a look at these items that are so similar I found while browsing the internet! Entertain like a pro and set this up for your family dinner with the same look or create a small vignette in the yard 6-8 feet apart and social distance celebrate that special occasion with your family or friends. As you can see setting the table ( from my video) takes a bit of time. Normally many designers don't do parties for groups that are so small but in today's new day and age it is sometimes possible....to have the best of the best help with the milestones that still are happening. It would be a shame to pass up a milestone and after all celebrating with your closest , nearest and dearest couldn't be more meaningful after the last few months.

You can still call a PRO like Frank Alexander and get this look or let us help you get the items together virtually to do it yourself !!


Get the look!

The silver buckets work well for flowers or set them on tables with various drinks on ice so that each group at the tables can self service themselves and you have less interaction between guests. All of these linen napkins came from Target.

The chargers are a great look any time of year.

I think this is just the way it goes and how we will spend the summer in our "new normal". I think it's worth itif we are healthy, safe and with our loved ones. Lucky, thankful and grateful it is finally summer, and it is warm out. Let's take advantage of it while we can. We have a number of ideas for "social distance" entertaining AT HOME and happy to help you plan it that way virtually!


I am planning to have "cocktails with friends" this weekend and I can't wait for the delicious items from Lawrence Craig Catering.

I am very excited and will share the details soon with you!


Larry Craig is know for his delicious and stylish food and he has a chic cocktail party in a box. You can order his "cocktail Party in a box" here. I will be sure to share the "cocktail party AT HOME with you soon!:)

Have an amazing healthy and happy weekend!!








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Carolyn Bender 
info@cbealifestyle.com

914-722-9094