By Diane B. Reed

As we gradually emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all ready for some fun! But how do we socialize until things get back to some kind of normal? Fortunately, we’re moving into warm weather, and a perfect way to ease into this ever-changing reality safely is to take advantage of the outdoors — and we’ve come to treasure our outdoor living spaces as a great addition to our indoor gathering spaces.

Time to host a porch party!

Whether you’re inviting one person or a small group, your porch or your deck, (front yard or back) is an ideal venue. Dust off the outdoor furniture, and dress up the porch up with baskets of flowers, party lights, candles and festive lanterns. And if a friend or family member is lucky enough to have a fair-weather birthday, tie some festive balloons to your railing to liven up the celebration.

If you’re inviting a handful of people — depending on the size of your porch — you may be able to distance on opposite sides of the porch if needed. If your porch is small, and the guest list a bit too long, plan on a party that spills onto the steps and into the front yard. You can ask invitees to bring their own chairs.

If you feel the need to celebrate on a larger scale, but don’t want to exclude anyone, join the folks who have organized drive-by birthdays, anniversaries, retirement parties. The honoree(s) sit on the porch, and party-goers parade by, stopping briefly to send best wishes.

Whatever kind of party you plan, have fun! Tap a musical friend to bring a guitar for a sing-along. Don’t rule out games — quite a few will work depending on the partygoers. Bingo is a favorite for every age, especially if you offer prizes, such as a bottle of wine for your wine group, toys for the younger set. Turn your front steps into a stage for a lively round of charades, always good for lots of laughs.

When it comes to food for the party, you have lots of options. If shared dishes make you or your guests uncomfortable, create a personal goodie bags or have people bring their own snacks. If you’ve been looking forward to dining al fresco, set up a dining table with all its accoutrements and an eye toward social distancing, if needed.

Test the waters with a gathering of one or two friends or family, be mindful of the concerns of individuals, then work your way up to a small group. Keep checking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for guidance as things open over the summer. Lots of fun is on the horizon; don’t miss out on it!