29 April 2021

Online, on the doorstep, over the fence, or on the go - there are loads of different ways you can join in with The Big Lunch whilst keeping it safe and inclusive for you and your community.

So the how, where and when are totally up to you - the important bit is bringing people together to get to know each other a little better and have fun!  We all know that with Covid, things can change quickly so we recommend checking the latest Government guidelines for where you live (EnglandNorthern IrelandScotlandWales), and plan your Big Lunch with safety, group numbers and social distancing rules in mind where necessary.

We're sure you're all practised at managing social occasions within the rules by now, but here are our top tips for a socially safe Big Lunch!

1. Take it outside

Choose an outdoor location with space to spread out - like a park or on your street.  Instead of one large sharing table, each household could bring out their own table and chairs and space them out, or simply spread out on picnic blankets. It's up to you. 

Before you decide who to invite, quickly double check how many people and households are allowed to mix where you live.  As we saw with last year's Big Lunch, even just arranging a time to come outside and sit on your doorstep to have a chat with neighbours, can be a lovely way to connect, so it doesn't have to be big! 

Everyone wants to stay safe, so keep to recommended numbers, remember the 'hands, face, space' rules, stick to safe distances, and remember your face mask and hand sanitiser! 

2. Keep the food simple

Enjoying food together is a great way to build connections and get to know one another better, but the real magic at a Big Lunch happens when people start sharing conversation and take the time to talk and have fun together. So why not keep things safe and simple and encourage everyone to bring their own food, drinks, cups, cutlery and plates - this also requires little advance preparation and minimises waste!  If you do prepare things to share, make food in individually wrapped portions, like cupcakes and sausage rolls. You could try making your own beeswax food wraps to keep everything perfectly portioned and looking lovely! 

Everyone likes a tidy table, and there are extra reasons to keep surfaces and tables clean now, so bring antibacterial wipes or spray to have a wipe regularly.  Encourage people to bring antibacterial hand wipes or hand sanitizer with them and have a bin nearby so people can dispose of things safely. For more information on food hygiene and best practice, visit the Food Standards Agency street party guidance page.

3. Add a bit of cheer

Create a cheerful welcoming setting wherever you are with simple decorations.  Homemade or shop-bought, it doesn't matter, and if you pack it away carefully it could be good for next year too!  Drape bunting on your house, over fences or hedges, from balconies, and even decorate trees.  Use ribbons or fabric and anything fun you have to hand, give the kids some chalk and watch them transform the pavement, and finish off with some music to lift everyone's mood. 

4. Host a Big Lunch online

Enjoy some much-needed community spirit from the comfort of your couch and host a Big Lunch online. You could use platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Facebook Rooms to bring people together.  A whopping four million people took part in The Big Virtual Lunch in 2020 and 91% of participants said it was just what they needed, so give it a go!

5. Pick up the phone

Not everyone is online or able to take part in a video call, so don't forget you can always join in by picking up the phone and having a chat with someone.  Catch up and check-in on how they're doing.  It could be someone from your street or an old friend.  Making a call to someone from a community group? Invite everyone to call someone else and keep the conversations flowing. Here's our guide to setting up a 'phone tree'!

6. Go for a walking and talking Big Lunch

Why not pack a sandwich and get together for a Big Lunch on the go?  Walking and talking go very naturally together and walking in a small group is a great way to socialise and feel more connected.  It's great exercise too!

Ready to get planning? Sign up for your free Big Lunch pack full of top tips, ideas and more advice on how to host a Big Lunch safely, and join the conversation on our social channels (TwitterFacebook and Instagram) and Our Community Facebook group to chat with other Big Lunchers.

 7. Check out the Food Standards Agency's advice 

They have some fantastic tips on how to ensure your street party and food stays safe and enjoyable for all.

How to safely host a street party