The season of the graduation party is upon us in the midst of a pandemic. Add to that the "open-the-state-now-we-can-gather-in-groups" and we have some serious, in so many ways, parties in progress. However, we should have some thought and guidelines put into the parties.
First, realize that COVID-19 is still with us. States that reopened last month have now had an upswing in their COVID-19 cases.
Maybe your child wants a big party for graduation, but reality rears its ugly head. Times are tight financially; many parents have been furloughed or laid off due to business closures. This is a life lesson for your child. Do not apologize for restricting the size and scope of the party. Have it outside and have everyone wear a mask. This will reduce the likelihood of spreading COVID-19.
Stick with non-alcoholic beverages because it is illegal to provide alcohol to minors and dangerous to serve alcohol to anyone. State law prohibits providing alcohol to minors, even if their parents say it is all right for you to do so. In addition, if anyone — adult or minor — who leaves your party intoxicated has an accident the accident victim can come back on you for being a contributor to the accident. Beyond the legal and financial aspects, do you really want to be responsible for the injury or death of another person? You and your child can party without alcohol.
Consider the food presentation. Foods that are individually wrapped, to avoid being touched by many hands, would be best.
Remember that food spoils quickly in warm weather. Food should not be out more than two hours. Cold foods must be kept cold and hot food hot.
You cannot have too much ice. Make sure all cold foods are surrounded by ice. Discard all leftover food after two hours.
Look at containers you already have to keep food and drinks cold. Place a bowl of food in ice up to the rim of the bowl. The ice container bowl can be in any large container you already have. Just make sure the ice is about two to three inches deep on the sides and bottom of the food container bowl. A collapsible container, like the ones used for leaf collection in the fall, also can be used for chilling soda. After the party just collapse the container and the water will run out.
Keep hot foods hot in a crock pot, chafing dish or grill designated for warming. The grill used to keep things warm can be a smaller grill with a lid or the foods wrapped in foil. However, it must have enough hot coals to keep the food hot. Even if a food is cooked, if it is left out at room temperature bacteria will start to grow.
Hopefully your party will be outside. Make sure you tell everyone to bring their own lawn chair. You may think you have enough seating, but you won’t.
Make sure you have a first aid kit on hand. Someone may get hurt. It may be a skinned knee, a minor cut, burn or a scraped arm, but it will need cleaned and bandaged. If you plan ahead the incident can be quickly handled and the party can continue.
Delegate duties so that everyone has a chance to enjoy themselves. No one should be so busy they can’t visit and have fun.
Mrs. Theil is a child advocate in Wayne and Holmes counties. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org