Everybody misses socializing, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic has relegated most interactions to Zoom, CRM platforms, and other forms of virtual meet-ups. With vaccines being given out and safety protocols becoming commonplace, however, hosting small gatherings is likely the first point of order for most families and corporations.
Even if it’s only a once or twice a year event for your social and professional circles, more and more people are likely to jump at the opportunity for the sake of in-person encounters.
That said, you can’t rely on the increased demand for gatherings to guarantee your success. Just because people miss each other doesn’t mean they’re going to have a great time. The same is true regardless of how awesome your food, venue, and playlists are.
The key element to a successful party is a capable host, and you can easily be one when you follow these five steps:
Know Why You’re Gathering
It doesn’t have to be a corporate anniversary or a team-building event for it to need objectives. Even the baby shower or fiftieth birthday celebration you’re planning can take on an entirely different direction when you can pinpoint exactly why you’re gathering. Maybe you’re throwing a baby shower for your friend because you want her to know she has many people to support her in the next chapter of her life.
Perhaps your fiftieth birthday celebration can be a form of thanksgiving to the people who gave happiness and meaning to your life so far. Once you’ve come up with these objectives, try to go deeper and come up with a more specific answer. What’s the end goal, and how do you imagine the event will benefit everyone?
This is a simple but highly effective strategy that will set the tone for your party planning.
Make Your Invites Meaningful
Now that you know exactly what you want to achieve, share that in your invites. Generic ones that list the bare essentials like date, time, and venue are anything but compelling. If you’re hosting a party for fellow teachers, for example, include an anecdote or a brief narration about why you want to hang out.
Maybe it’s because your specific circle of teachers rarely go out and have fun, or when you do, all you talk about are your work and your students. Tell them that anybody who mentions anything work-related will have to wash the dishes or buy everyone a drink. This not only gives them a better reason to come but also motivates them to show up in the right mindset.
Remember That Bigger Isn’t Always Better
Grand and spacious venues are always impressive, but whether they’re effective is another matter entirely. Even during the pandemic, there are ways to safely gather without booking an entire ballroom to yourselves. Consider going outdoors, as that will address people’s primary concern about contagion. Think gardens in Melbourne and beaches in Perth. If you can, why not try hens party boat cruise hire for a change?
Another reason to opt for smaller spaces is that it keeps the crowd together. People are less likely to find faraway corners where they’ll be inaccessible to you and your other guests. Setting up a perimeter is a strategic way to encourage interactions and help people make friends.
Mind How You Start and End
As with everything, you have to remember that beginnings and endings make the biggest impact. The trick to making them count is to be intentional. What’s the ambiance you want to set? How do you want to get conversations going? Fortunately, you don’t have to come up with anything mind-blowing to achieve the results you want.
Surprising your guests with a small activity or a mini attraction usually suffice. Serve welcome drinks or make a toast. You may even flash pictures of your fondest memories together.
The same applies to how you end your party. People don’t know where to go unless you tell them to, so you have to make it known somehow that the party is coming to a close. You can do this by announcing that you’re serving the last round of drinks, or by making a closing toast. Put out any keepsakes you plan to give out as a visual cue that they have to be heading towards the door.
Set Fun Rules
Last but not least, you have to set fun rules. The best ones are those that force people to interact with strangers and have meaningful conversations. Perhaps they aren’t allowed to fill their own plates or glasses by themselves, and this compels them to approach people they don’t know.
Maybe you can make a ‘no selfies’ rule, so every picture is taken with someone, by another person. Making up such rules is a guaranteed way to make your guests feel more present and engaged with your party.