DEAR HARRIETTE: Now that people are hosting virtual parties all the time, there is a whole new social scene to worry about. I just learned that a group of my co-workers who used to hang out on Friday nights after work sometimes host a virtual cocktail party, and they haven’t invited me. Now, to be fair, I didn’t go every week to their gathering because I have a kid and I often had to get home early. But now that I’m already home, I could easily join them. I don’t want to be left out, but I’m not sure how to handle this. Is it OK for me to ask if they would invite me the next time they get together? -- Left Out
DEAR LEFT OUT: Now is the time for you to speak up and let the group know that you would love to get together with them. Rather than making it a group ask, though, you should identify one team member with whom you have the closest relationship and tell that person that you would love to get together with them. Be upfront about it, saying how it was difficult for you when the group would hang out after work and you had to get home to your child, but it is much easier now. The other person you might want to contact is whomever you see as the organizer. If one person stands out in that role, reach out to him or her, and ask to be included in the next virtual get-together.
If they are slow to invite you, consider creating your own one-on-one get-togethers with your co-workers where the two of you can use video streaming technology so that you can see each other. Just spend some time getting reacquainted. Over time, they may decide to include you in the fold of the larger group.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend is having a small graduation party for his high school senior. He says that the people invited will be sure to stay appropriately separated from one another, but I am skeptical. How can you resist hugging people at a time like this? Also, if people drink alcohol, I think it will be even harder for them to stay socially distanced. I don’t want to be a party pooper. This is such an important time in this family’s life, and we are very close. What can I do? -- Graduation During COVID-19
DEAR GRADUATION DURING COVID-19: You may want to suggest that your friend add one more dimension to the party. Some of the parties being planned these days for special events like graduations are drive-by parties. While a small group of people may be together on the premises, many drive to the home and stay in their cars. Sometimes people toot their horns to acknowledge the festivities. Often, people drop off gifts to the honoree without ever getting out of their cars. A designated family member accepts the gifts, wearing gloves and masks. The honoree gets to see the people who are coming to celebrate without ever running the risk of getting too close.
If your friend doesn’t like that idea, you can attend the party for a brief period, bring a gift, wear your mask and leave before people get tipsy and forget to follow the social distancing rules.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)