As event professionals, it can be hard to turn-off our inner planner to sit back and relax for our holiday celebrations. This year, why not lean into your professional prowess and utilize some of those well thought out and executed professional event ideas and bring them into your home.
- Think about the attendee journey.
Just because you’re inviting Grandma and Cousin Phil doesn’t mean everyone’s experience shouldn’t be a well thought out and orchestrated experience. Rather than playing phone-tag or sending a generic email or text message, think about sending a designed evite from one of the various (free) sites available. The invite can set the tone for any themes you may have (Hawaiian Holiday Luau anyone?) and help organize any potlucks or gift exchanges you may be having. Once guests arrive, think about where their bulky winter coats go (or shoes for that matter if you are shoe free home) to where they will get their first beverage and snack. Even in the smallest house it is important to make sure there is a clear flow and designated space for drinks, appetizers, and activities. Your experience as the host is just as important as the guests. Feeling cozy is good, tripping over your nephew’s Legos is not.
- Make sure everyone knows each other.
The pandemic has kept us apart for over a year, and while we’re still fighting that battle, people may be getting together for the first time in even longer. Don’t remember what Second Cousin Nadia looks like? Never met your sister’s new boyfriend Jose? Think about incorporating nametags into your event. No, we don’t mean generic “Hello my name is ___” stickers, think about creating an interactive nametag decorating activity. Blank badges can be adorned with holiday stickers and colorful markers, or take it up a notch and utilize blank wooden ornaments for guests to decorate. Wear them around your neck for the event, and then hang them on your tree or mantel when you get home.
- Break the ice.
Breaking the ice is not just for your Sazerac but with each other. It has been a long time in semi-isolation and many of us are not as adept at social interactions as we once were. We are all too familiar with cringeworthy icebreaker activities, however to help with social gatherings, try something that is comfortable and easy to coordinate on the spot. To help get the conversation flowing, ask people to pull up their favorite photo from 2021 or pair guests up by the color of clothes to have a drink together. Just because it’s family or friends, doesn’t mean your guests still can’t get to know each other a little better.
- Create multifaceted interactive demos.
To ensure that Dad and Uncle George don’t spend the whole night in the den watching football, encourage guests to bring a cocktail or treat that requires some assembly to share. Designated station(s) can be set up for guests to host a cocktail or food demonstration just like on the expo floor. Learn how to make the perfect martini or decorate cookies with new found precision. These stations both will encourage all guests to mingle as well as take ownership over the success of your gathering.
- Use décor to create instagrammable moments.
If the chalkboard mural or flower garden vignette is the focal point of your events, why not create the same must-document moment at your social gathering? Eye-catching décor will bring your attendee journey to life and allow for memorable photos and videos. Think about the spaces that are often left simple but can be easily elevated such as the entry way or the room for the coats. Having surprise and delight moments for guests where they least expect it will ensure they have an immersive experience and will return to happy memories on social media for years to come. And…don’t forget the hashtag!