For many of us in the UK, the past week has dampened our spirits and brought a new set of worries now that we are facing the Omicron variant of Covid.
Since the announcement, Unlocked have been speaking with many event venues, suppliers, and planners. We're hearing mixed reviews from the planners. The venues and suppliers are all on the same page though, they cannot face another lockdown, it could be disastrous.
Unfortunately venues are already starting to see cancellations as they head into their busiest month since covid first hit. The Christmas party season was set to be the comeback period for most event venues, with diaries full and many companies gathering in person for the first time in over a year.
At Unlocked we exist to promote unique cultural and heritage spaces for In Real Life (IRL) events and we will be doing all we can to promote the continued use of the amazing venues we support as long as it is safe to do so. We don't doubt that the new covid variant is a risk to our nation, but we do think that domestic events should still be taking place just with some extra precautions and adaptations.
Below we've detailed some of the additional considerations we think you should take into account to enable a safer event during covid times:
Consider The Size Of Your Event
The larger a gathering the greater the risk of having someone in attendance who has covid and subsequently the greater the risk of spreading the virus. We suggest keeping group and event sizes small to alleviate this risk. Plus if the government does enforce more restrictions, the larger events are bound to be the ones that are cancelled first.
We recommend breaking your Christmas party into smaller group sizes, perhaps by team or departments. We would recommend keeping the same event spaces you currently have so that everyone has more space to socially distance if desired and then booking some extra spaces to accommodate the additional groups. Naturally the smaller the group the more intimate the event, so you may even find that this year your guests are closer than ever. Well figuratively speaking.
Provide A Hybrid Option
As always, you should make sure your event is inclusive to all and that no one is left out due to the event taking place in person. Although we believe that it is safe for events to be taking place, there are still many that would disagree. There are also many people that are extra vulnerable to the virus and who should be able to enjoy your Christmas Party without putting themselves at risk.
We advise organising your party as a hybrid event from the outset. Not only will this mean anyone can attend from anywhere with a stable internet connection, it also means that the event is set up to run virtually if you have to make the full pivot to virtual should the government reintroduce restrictions. Do note that an effective hybrid event must be formatted slightly differently to an in-person one, get in touch if you’d like some pointers.
Consider How Your Food is Served
The food is always a highlight of the Christmas party but this year there are a few things that should be off the menu. Buffets are a no go, don’t include any food at your event that other people may touch or get too close to. For standing events, we would suggest individual bowl food. We’ve also seen bento boxes work really well as they can be covered until the point of delivery.
For seated meals, the same applies, no sharing food, so serve sides such as bread as individual portions direct to the recipient. We also suggest spacing place settings out more than usual. For example if your table would usually accommodate 10 diners, we’d reduce this to six where possible.
Choose Appropriate Entertainment & Activities
It’s always fun to include a fun activity at your party, particular if your group hasn’t socialised with each other for sometime, it gets conversations flowing. This year you need to be extra careful with what type of activity or entertainment you provide.
We wouldn’t recommend any activities that require close contact or the sharing of equipment/materials. A popular activity that we would avoid is karaoke (people spread more germs when singing/shouting). When choosing an activity it’s important that it’s an offering that is suitable for those attending the event virtually or in person. We’d recommend activities such as boozy bingo and comedy.
Hopefully these tips have proved useful and have given you some food for thought.
We must also point out that an events feasibility is dependant on the audience. So before planning or adapting your event, we do advise consulting with your audience.
Unlocked are keeping up to date with current venue availability including cancellations and aim to fill in the gaps of availability for December where we can. So if you are still looking for event space, do let us know and get in touch for more advice or event assistance. We’re always delighted to assist and discuss all things events.