As event venues and conference centres around the world begin to reopen and small and hybrid events start to cautiously return, event professionals are learning to forge a new kind of event—one that not only amazes and engages, but that also adheres to new guidelines and regulations.
To help you out, we compiled a list of some fun, simple swaps that will keep your event safe—without sacrificing the experience.
1. Entertain evites.
Trade print for online invitations (it may even save you some money!). Not only are digital invites a more sanitary and eco-friendly option, but they can be a convenient way to thoroughly explain safety precautions in advance. Invitations can no longer simply address the who, what, when, and where. Consider a full “virtual package” as a way to share the logistics, like how large the gathering is, any liability statements, whether or not masks are provided, and instructions for entry. Guests can RSVP with their level of comfort surrounding certain interactions, which can later help in forming designated zones or table arrangements that promote safe distancing.
2. Start with swag.
Switch it up and give out your event swag at the entrance rather than the exit. Think about gifting items that can be useful throughout the event while also promoting the theme, such as masks, mini hand sanitizer, bamboo straws for pre-made cocktails, or phone cases if you’re offering virtual components.
3. Remodel the mask-querade.
Masks will be a fundamental part of gatherings as many states are passing laws requiring their use. Events can create a feeling of ease and normalcy with a festive take on the safety item. Embrace it! Ask attendees to bring their own, or if the budget permits, give out uniform, branded masks. You can even use the coverings to convey useful information, like listing menu items on servers’ masks or displaying attendees’ names as a fun twist on a name tag. The key here is to work it into your theme and get creative.
4. Scan, so you can.
Order. Bid. Vote. In lieu of physical menus or check-in stations, go digital to provide a contactless experience. Attendees can use their smartphones to scan a QR code as they enter, easily directing them to a designated webpage. Introducing mobile technology into live events can enhance the experience if done successfully. Work in some interactive components: Invest in display screens so every attendee has a good view of the action without leaving their seats, or host a trivia game guests can play from their phones. Digital components can add to the ambiance and engage viewers, all while supporting their comfort level.
5. BYOH: Bring your own headphones.
Eliminate communal items where possible. For example, when hosting an educational session or workshop, ask attendees to bring their own headphones. If budget permits, invest in disposable or take-home earbuds. Whenever items must be shared, prepare sanitation stations for thorough cleaning after use.
6. Hold onto your seats.
Swapping in a pre-planned seating chart, or designated zones for a reception-style event, can be a more natural way to promote social distancing. Be strategic here and use attendees’ feedback, relationships, and background to generate safe and enjoyable pairings. Depending on the type of event, take advantage of the space and provide versatile furniture separated by stylish barriers such as props or plants.
7. Make sanitizer the center of attention.
Design is an important part of the event experience—and now attendee health is, too. Innovate your centerpieces to work in a camouflaged sanitation station, which will provide guests with an incognito but necessary reminder to wash their hands before eating. If individual hand sanitizers are more your style, have fun with it. Guests at Khloe Kardashian’s recent party, for example, received small bottles featuring the birthday girl’s face.
8. Dress up disposable.
Disposable silverware can get a bad rap—but subbing pre-packaged silverware for the classic flatware sets doesn’t have to forgo the elegant mood and is a smart way to keep guests safe. Get creative with color schemes, and keep it environmentally friendly by working with sustainable brands and having recycling stations on hand.
9. Use your lemons, make lemonade.
Refreshments play an important role at events—but they’re also one of the biggest sanitization challenges in a COVID-19 world. Let’s be real, the days of lime trays may be over. Eliminating pre-cut lemons, limes, and oranges can keep bartenders and attendees from reaching their hands in drinks. Instead, consider pre-squeezed juices—the zest is still there! Or, make a switch altogether and play with pre-packaged cocktails. Beverages poured beforehand can be covered with lids and dispersed into various areas by type. It may even ease the traffic of a bar.
10. Swipe right for a refill.
To follow physical distancing guidelines, attendees should be navigated into zones and tables. Don’t let the line at the bar throw a wrench in these plans. Instead, people can order food or drinks via their phones and be pinged when their order is ready. If budget permits, staff can serve these mobile orders and attendees will never have to leave their seats.