This year, the anticipated and loved Christmas party will take a new direction. Virtual socials and get-togethers will be the new norm for 2020. Will they come close to replacing the fun and games of a usual face-to-face, drunken affair, dancing to The Macarena and snogging Sandra from accounts or Brian the sales manager (or both!)? Will they come close to replacing the fun and games of a usual face-to-face knees-up, dancing past midnight and embarrassing yourself in front of your boss? No. They don’t come anywhere near but with some thought about the content and the audience, they can fill a gap. They can also go a long way to re-connecting teams and colleagues who haven’t seen each other for many a month. They can also be used to connect with clients, creating a shared social experience – if they are done with the right sentiment.
So what about the concept? Well it’s not that simple. Too many ideas that I have seen are trying to recreate a live experience. Stop it, you can’t. Think about pre-event engagement as much as event engagement. If you are going to do a cook-a-long, supply the food, supply the booze, supply the fun. I got invited to an industry cook-a-long, which I accepted and then got an email a week before with a shopping list of 21 ingredients! Never going to happen. If you are going to do a magic act as part of the offering, do a tutorial. Who doesn’t want to learn a magic trick? So send the props. An invite, a ticket, a pre-event mail works for live. We don’t believe it’s enough for virtual.
So what can you do? Well, we’ve put together a handful of entertaining ideas that will require zero effort from ‘partygoers‘ and engage them from the off. Each one involves an event enhancement box delivered directly to guests the day before. Pick from…
- “You make miso happy” which features a pre-event ingredients box with Japanese beer included and a live stream Japanese cook-a-long with one of the fabulous chefs from the School of Wok.
- “It’s a kind of magic” is not only a live close up magic show but also a tutorial from our man in the Magic Circle. The pre-event delivery includes drinks, treats and all the magic props you need.
- “Eyes down for a full house” sees our high energy caller have some fun as players enjoy a few games of bingo and a drink or two.
- “Pretty fly for a Mai-Tai” let’s your inner Tom Cruise come shining through as shakers are shaken and stirrers are stirred.
- “Wine a little, laugh a lot” is a wine tasting for those who enjoy the finer things in life.
What you mustn’t do is get greedy with people’s time. It’s so much harder to keep people engaged in the virtual world so timings should be much shorter than a live event. Keep your guests engaged, give them an experience but don’t drag it out. A good, solid hour reaps far more rewards than a couple of hours that drag on. Our very own client event is going virtual this year. Traditionally a three-hour, sumptuous Champagne afternoon tea at The Ritz where conversation and laughter fill the room has been re-designed for 2020. Guests will receive all they need. Champers, scones, jam and clotted cream (goes without saying) and some fabulous tea, and then we will all meet on Zoom for a big hello, head off to smaller breakout groups, more conducive to chatter, scoff and quaff, and then return to the main room for a game of bingo with a donation from Ulterior to the winner’s charity of choice. All done and dusted in an hour. Not too long, not too short, no time for “dead” air. Just a high quality, highly engaging virtual social.
Live Christmas extravaganzas will have to wait until 2021. The swaying throng, last drink in hand, the uninhibited belting out of, “it was only a kiss, IT WAS ONLY A KISS” as Mr. Brightside fills the dancefloor is on hold. In the meantime, the virtual party is where it’s at. If you want it to be fun and fulfilling, then give the timings, the content and the engagement a lot of thought. It will never replicate a live event but at least you won’t miss your last train home!
Get in touch for our full virtual socials brochure, from £75.50 + VAT per person.