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14 expert-recommended tips for throwing a socially distant party this summer

Throw a patio party or barbecue with a few products to help you stay safe.

Despite having to practice social distancing this summer, you can still enjoy outdoor barbecues or patio parties. And if you're hosting, you'll have to make a couple of small changes to help guests feel comfortable while enjoying the festivities.

TODAY welcomed lifestyle expert Jill Bauer to get her tips for planning a fun, socially distant outdoor party. On her checklist are essentials like festive plates and decorative string lights — but she also shared simply ways to bring everyone together safely with disposable guest towels, socially distant balloons and a hand sanitizing station.

Take advantage of the warm weather, blue skies and sunshine with these socially distant party must-haves.

Welcome guests

1. Crayola Washable Sidewalk Chalk

Give your guests a warm welcome by writing a message with some sidewalk chalk. This set includes 64 colors that feature an anti-roll shape and a precise, pointed tip. The chalk can easily be washed off using a water hose.

Provide socially distant areas for gathering

1. Assorted Color Party Balloons

Bauer recommends tying balloons to golf tees and placing them in the ground around your yard. "If you have it measured out at six-foot increments, people will know exactly where to put their chairs and you've done all the social distancing work for them," she said.

2. Golf Tees

Don't have golf tees lying around the house? This bag contains 135 tees that are made with durable hardwood.

3. Round Floor Pillow Pouf

Before your guests arrive, Bauer recommends spacing out seating so that people know where they can safely chat. This comfortable pouf is comfortable for guests and light enough to easily move around.

Safely serve food and drinks

1. Melamine Appetizer Plates

Bauer loves putting together individual platters for each family invited to the party. This way, only members of a single group will be touching the food on the plate.

2. Beach Sand Buckets and Sand Shovels

Using small sand buckets is one of Bauer's favorite ways to keep family drinks separate. She also uses the shovels as name tags so each family knows which bucket to take back to their table.

Prepare a sanitizing table

1. Moxē Premium Hand Sanitizer

"Something else you can do as a 'corona courtesy' is to put out a hand sanitizer station," said Bauer. This three-pack from Moxē is formulated with 70% alcohol and has an uplifting citrus scent.

2. Individual Sanitizing Wipes

Bauer also recommends placing wipes on a table so guests can wipe down hands during the party. This case includes 10-packs of 20 pre-soaked wipes.

3. 50 Disposable Face Masks

In addition to the hand sanitizer and hand wipes, Bauer suggests providing forgetful guests with a disposable face mask. This pack of 50 has a three-layer design and elastic ear-loops.

4. Disposable Guest Towels

These disposable guest towels can be placed in the bathroom to avoid multiple people touching a single hand towel. Unlike regular paper towels, they feature beautiful and vibrant designs that are perfect for a summer party.

Set the party mood

1. Flameless Candles

Bauer reminds us that lighting can enhance the ambiance of your backyard when the sun goes down. She prefers to place these flameless candles in lanterns to light her porch.

2. Solar Outdoor Lantern

If you'd rather buy a lantern that has a candle inside, this one is a good choice. It's solar-powered and includes a flickering flameless candle that emits a warm glow.

3. Outdoor String Lights

These outdoor string lights come with 25 hanging glass bulbs that are made with durable glass. Each one is designed to last up to 1,000 hours which means you won't have to constantly replace bulbs.

4. Sonos One SL Smart Speaker

"Lighting isn't the only way to create mood in the evenings — don't forget about music!" said Bauer. The Sonos One SL Wireless Smart Speaker has a compact design and connects to an app that allows you to play your favorite tunes with the touch of a button.

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