If one thing’s for certain, life as we know it has been a little different over the past 12 months, and it doesn’t look like things are going to return to normal any time soon. COVID-19 has turned drinks at your favourite bar into cocktail nights at home amid lockdown, but luckily, you don’t necessarily have to do that alone thanks to virtual happy hours.
With parts of the country still under stay-at-home orders, you can think of virtual happy hours as your new way to go out and engage with friends and loved ones while social distancing from the comfort of your own home. If you find you’ve been missing the after-work ritual of happy hour, then why not host a virtual cocktail event of your own? Whether you want to have a cozy wine night with your besties, or you want to plan drinks for you and your coworkers, here’s what to know about having a successful virtual happy hour at home.
Pick a theme
First things first, you need to determine what the theme of your soiree is. Did a friend recently get engaged? Is a coworker moving on to a new company? Or, perhaps you just want to give your friends an excuse to get dolled up in their best non-sweatpant look. Whatever the occasion is, you must identify what type of work or social event you are planning so you can keep your guests prepared and informed.
Make a guest list
It’s important to consider the number of people you invite so you can keep things manageable. There’s truly nothing worse than having too many people talking over each other, which, ultimately, results in people not getting the chance to properly connect. We recommend sticking with under 20 guests, because as you could imagine, having too many people in a Google Hangout can quickly turn into chaos.
Any memorable happy hour isn’t complete without good drinks. In the lead up to the event, determine whether you want your guests to prepare a cocktail together, or simply just drink whatever they have on hand. Cocktails like old fashioneds and margaritas are easy drinks to whip up at home, while ‘quarantinis’, which are basically a mixed drink containing whatever liquor you have on hand can be an easy alternative. Mocktails are also a great option for those who aren’t indulging in alcohol.
Find your platform
Luckily there are a number of great platforms that are easy to use including Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom, and House Party. We recommend using Zoom, as it’s easy for everyone to download and join, plus the grid view makes it easy to see everyone all at once in equal-sized boxes.
Send your invites
You need to make sure to send out your event invites outlining all the required details including when to dial in and what to have on hand during the happy hour in advance so you can guarantee that everyone expected is prepared and in attendance. To ensure that your virtual happy hour starts on time, make sure to encourage all participants to download the platform and send out the video chat link ahead of the event.
Set the tone
Like any good host, the event coordinator of the happy hour sets the tone. Make sure to welcome people and have a central theme or agenda of how you want your event to run. To get things started, you can have everyone take a turn sharing a highlight of the week before you dive into your event.
End on a high note
While your guests will be joining in from home, chances are they may have other commitments to attend to (like a new Netflix series to binge-watch), so try to stick to an end time. Though, while the goal is to always keep happy hours short and sweet, there is a chance that your guests might want to continue chatting if they’re having fun. If that’s the case, feel free to run your event a little longer than you planned for, and like any dinner party or social event, make sure to thank your guests for attending.
Feature Image: @angelavineyards