There’s not one person out there who hasn’t been impacted by this pandemic and one of the things we miss most are events. Any kind of event, whether it’s a movie night with friends, a work party, or an award show, perhaps, a coffee date or 21st birthday. Whatever is it, we’ve all missed something or have seen it get cancelled and the sinking feeling that you’ll never be able to go out again absolutely sucks. Soon Thanksgiving and Christmas will be the focus of holiday stress as people try and figure out how they can possibly bring some family and friends together. It’s not easy planning virtual events or finding ways to spend time socially distant, but I looked into some ways you might be able to make an event happen, while staying safe.
Here are some things to ask yourself as you try and find ways to bring people together;
- Can you gather outside?
- Is there an outdoor place either public or private that would allow your group the space to mingle while wearing masks?
When possible, holding events outdoors is a great way to allow people to see each other face to face without getting too close to each other. I noticed the sudden return to nature when lockdown began. When we were no longer required to attend our normal workspaces, we turned towards the pockets of nature in our communities. Green spaces sometimes feel more at home than buildings do, and taking care of these spaces is important too.
- Make sure to always take all trash with you, leaving nothing behind.
- Make sure to always have your mask on you because parks are likely to be busy. Consider making individual servings so you can share food and go for activities that don’t require close contact.
- Even with precautions it’s a good idea to get tested if you end up gathering a large group.
In my local parks I’ve seen small birthday parties, group picnics where several couples/individuals set up their own blankets/chairs six feet apart, and even a lantern lighting ceremony. Being outside can make an event all the more aesthetic and can allow guests to feel more at ease than in a confined space.
My Science professor tells us he’ll be having his daughters over for thanksgiving and they’ll be utilizing both masks, face shields, and plexiglass, and while it will surely be a Thanksgiving to remember, he noted that he’d rather have the memories and the happiness of being around his family than nothing at all.
So it’s okay to feel conflicted about the Holidays this year, of course we want to draw joy and festivities from the holidays but as we enter winter, and Covid once again takes some turns for the worse, it’s worth it to make even the silliest accommodations in order to keep each other safe while spending time together.
- Can the event be held virtually?
- What adjustments need to be made for an event to happen virtually?
- What does a successful virtual event look like?
Virtual events are tricky but when done right they can be a great alternative to an in person event.
Early in the pandemic, my family organized a zoom happy hour with my dad’s extended family. Happy hour on the beach is a favorite activity of ours so we hoped grabbing some drinks and sitting with our immediate family while on zoom with everyone would be a great idea.
However, there were a few things we didn’t really anticipate. For one, you can really only ever have one person speaking at once. Normally, there’s up to 20 of us all having various conversations, or playing a game, someones usually taking pictures, we eat, we drink, and it’s easy going. But in a virtual call, we found ourselves awkwardly trying to hold conversations with the whole group, only to hear three voices try and respond at once.
So, what can you do to make sure a virtual event doesn’t flop? PLAN.
A virtual event will need more planning because nothing can really happen simultaneously. Each activity, speaker, or conversation must happen one at a time, and without a cohesive plan, you’ll be left with a silent zoom call and people awkwardly logging off claiming wifi problems.
One really important aspect for an event is the ability to engage with others. Is there an activity or a conversation that allows everyone to be engaged and participate in the event. Putting people in small groups and having them compete is another way to promote participation. Competition is always helpful in getting people involved.
Promote Your Event!
If the goal of your event is to expand brand or business awareness, know how to promote your event through social media. Plan posts leading up to your event to spread awareness and let people know information about how to participate ahead of time so they can plan.
Even thinking of a small party favor that could be sent out in advance, or if promoting a service/product, offer a discount or a coupon towards purchases of your product.
Some things may just get cancelled this year, and that’s just one thing we all have to face. I think there is something unique about facing a Pandemic in these exact moments in our existence. It’s a shared experience on a truly global level and it’s not a pleasant one. However, some really brilliant and beautiful things have come from this year and it’s important to remember that this won’t last forever, and there will be a time to take out our dancing shoes again. Even if the world isn’t quite the same after this.