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Hosting Small Events During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many celebrations, such as weddings, anniversaries, and milestone birthdays to be postponed or canceled altogether. Business meetings and other corporate gatherings have gone virtual. In the current climate, it may seem like hosting an event is an impossibility, but at Delamar, that is not the case. 

Our team at Delamar has been working diligently with our clients, vendors, and partners in order to provide our guests with the safest, yet most welcoming environment in which to host an event, no matter what the occasion. We are all in need of a celebration of some kind! Whether you’re planning to throw a COVID-safe family gathering, a significant birthday or anniversary party, or a sales team kick-off event, Delamar will help make the event both special and stress-free.

Follow All Local and National Recommendations

Connecticut state and national COVID guidelines for gatherings are being updated on a regular basis. Before you start planning your next event, please read the current guidelines. This will give you a good idea of how many guests you can invite, as well as what the guidelines are for safe and comfortable indoor and outdoor gatherings. 

As of March 19, 2020, private, social, and recreational events in Connecticut are permitted to be attended by up to 100 people if held at a commercial establishment or places of business. Outdoor events are capped at 200 guests.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. 

Be sure to let your guests know of any changes to the event, whether it be timing, location or other expectations. That way, each guest will feel comfortable that the details are being taken care of before they arrive. Keep the guest list small and make it clear that no one should bring a last minute tagalong, such as roommates or new partners.

Reassure invitees that everyone at the event will be following COVID-19 safety guidelines in order to create an enjoyable and relaxing gathering. This includes wearing face masks, maintaining social distance, and getting tested and quarantining when necessary. 

It’s important your guests share the same outlook on COVID-19 and are taking these precautions to ensure their safety and the safety of others. 

Remember to proactively update your attendees on any changes.

Host Your Event Outdoors, If Possible

Take advantage of the warm Spring and Summer weather. Use outdoor spaces whenever possible to give attendees more room to spread out. Experts across the board have pointed to the lower risk of virus transmission in outdoor settings. When you’re outside, fresh air is constantly moving, so you’re less likely to breathe in the respiratory droplets containing the virus.

Look for venues with standout outdoor event spaces, plenty of space to spread out, gardens and eye-catching views. 

Work With Your Venue and Vendors

During this uncertain time, many vendors are much more flexible than ever before. When possible, plan to host the event in open air and outdoor locations. Work with your venue to set safety guidelines for the day of the event. Because you are planning for a smaller group of guests, it can be much simpler to execute the custom details that Delamar is known for, and create an even more personalized, memorable experience.

Here are some important details to address with your selected vendor:

  1. Tables and seating should be at least 6 feet apart. Consider limited seating for more intimate conversations, seating families together, and staggered seating arrangements so no one is directly in front of another person.
  2. Place hand sanitizer on each table, along with extra face masks, in the event someone forgets or drops theirs. Eliminate lines or queues, if possible, by using multiple entrances and exits and discourage crowded waiting areas. 
  3. Post signs in highly visible locations (for example, at entrances, in restrooms) that promote protective measures and how to stop the spread of germs by properly wearing a mask, physical distancing, and washing hands.
  4. Avoid buffet-style dining arrangements. Instead, work with your vendors to have the food brought to each table to minimize the spread of COVID. 

Coordinate Guest Arrival Timelines

Get creative with your timelines—you can stagger the arrivals of guests with specific times to eliminate lines, ensure proper temperature screenings and enhance safety measures at all times.

Rework Your Budget

A smaller guest list means you can allocate more on the dinner menu and scale up your decor. Focus on the small details—from handwritten messages and notecards to beautiful flower arrangements and table accessories—to make this small gathering a fun and memorable experience for both you and your guests. You can even customize masks and hand sanitizers!

Throw a Children’s Birthday Party

When a child’s birthday is coming up  (especially if it’s an important milestone such as their 13th (Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Sweet 16 or 18th), all parents want to make sure it’s a special day for them, their family and friends.

You may want to consider hosting a virtual birthday party. Yes, it’s not as fun as an in-person event, but there are still ways to make it fun and memorable. Organize virtual games that everyone can play together. A few of our favorites include Heads Up, 20 Questions, and Trivia. You can also drop off party favors before the party that the children can open during the video event.

If you’re planning an in person event, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Keep your guest list small. Try inviting children and refrain from inviting those at a higher risk, such as parents and grandparents. 
  • Get creative with your party favors. Consider handing out customized face masks and hand sanitizers along with the traditional party favors. 
  • Refrain from doing any buffet-style meals or candy bars. Instead, hand out snack bags and water bottles with attendee names.
  • Consider cupcakes instead of a cake; and of course, no candle to blow out. Instead, have the b-day boy/girl blow out a smaller candle on their own individual cupcake, staying away from sweets that others will eat. 
  • Try individually packaged food, including boxed lunches, bento boxes and individual desserts to go.

Throw a Baby Shower 

Baby showers are a very special way to celebrate your upcoming family addition. Even during COVID, there are safe measures you can take to throw a safe and welcoming baby shower at Delamar.

  • When choosing a venue, choose a space that allows for plenty of room to spread out.
  • Trim your guest list to close family and friends. If you have a lot of friends and close family members, consider staggered arrivals or multiple, intimate showers for different social groups. You could even include distant friends to your in-person party by having them join virtually.
  • Consider socially distanced waves instead of hugs and kisses (or elbow kisses.) 
  • Set up an online baby shower registry and have any gifts shipped straight to your home. Be mindful of your guests’ financial situations as many Americans have lost their jobs and are facing financial difficulties due to COVID. Let your guests know there is no pressure, and be understanding if someone is unable to give a gift.  

Throw a Bridal Shower

Although the threat of COVID is still very real while we undergo the vaccination rollout, you can still plan and throw a safe and beautiful bridal shower for the bride-to-be. Here are a few tips:

  • As with all gatherings, limit the guest list. In this case, consider limiting to only close immediate family and the bridesmaids. Remember to communicate with your guests. If you can’t invite someone, be honest and let them know that it is out of safety and precaution. 
  • With spring just around the corner, consider a venue that is outdoors. This will make it easier to maintain social distancing, and limit the spread of COVID. 
  • Send gifts ahead of time to limit physical interactions. If you still want your gift to be a surprise, consider a designated person to be the holder of the gift.
  • Consider livestreaming the event for your elderly or high-risk loved ones and family members so they can be a part of the celebrations even from afar.
  • Avoid long lines at a bar by serving canned wines and bottled beers.
  • Encourage socially-distanced games. Trivia games about the happy couple and facts about their courtship is always an entertaining way to celebrate the happy couple. 

Throw an In-Person Business Meeting

Planning a safe and successful in-person event is not only doable today, but is in fact getting booked more and more frequently. But hosting a successful corporate event requires planning in advance, clear communication with attendees, and ongoing collaboration with vendors.

Whether you’re looking to host a board meeting, hold a company workshop, or want to impress potential clients, here’s how you can do so safely and effectively during COVID. 

Health and Safety Comes First

Before you start planning, please read and understand the current guidelines on COVID from state and national agencies. Include this information on your website and marketing materials. Work with your vendors to:

  1. Set up health screening protocols at the door, including taking one’s temperature. If possible, have a COVID compliance officer at your meeting. 
  2. Give attendees safety-swag at the door that they will want to use throughout the day, including customized masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes or spray, and a touchless door opener/button pusher. These also make for great promotional pieces.
  3. Have hand sanitizer dispenser stands or bottles of hand sanitizer on tables throughout the venue.
  4. If you will be having multiple breakout sessions throughout the day, factor time between meetings into the event schedule for cleaning and sanitizing rooms and tabletops.

Communicate With Your Clients & Employees

It is important that both you and your attendees follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. That means wearing a mask during the meeting, and maintaining social distancing. With the politicization of masks in the past year, some clients and attendees may have reservations about wearing masks. Clearly state that to meet in-person, they must wear masks, especially while inside, to keep you and your employees safe.

Limit Attendee Size

To keep everyone safe, consider only inviting the most key team leaders for the in-person meeting/event. You can live stream the event to the rest of the employees so they can watch from anywhere. 

If this is a workshop or training event, consider splitting the event into multiple sessions and rooms and attendees into groups. Rather than having the guests move from room to room and potentially congregate at doorways or in hallways, try keeping each group together in a single room while rotating the sessions and speakers throughout the day. 

Consider creating overflow areas. If rooms reach capacity, you can consider livestreaming your speakers online to allow attendees to watch from anywhere in the venue. You can also create dedicated rooms/areas with limited seating where people can watch the livestream on a large screen. 

Food and Beverage

Self-service buffets are no longer an option. Instead, have staff serve plated meals and passed appetizers in a socially distanced dining setup. Place water and other beverages at each seat before the event. Try giving out individually-packaged food as snacks and appetizers whenever possible. Grab-and-go is always a good option.