By Bianca Knop
There’s no doubt that a great party can leave people talking for days. That being said, lack lustre, cookie-cutter, and poorly executed parties can leave people talking for years. So how do you plan an event that will engage, generate excitement and provide memorable moments people will want to share? First off it doesn’t always require a huge budget. Executing great and memorable parties starts with a bit of a mind shift. Don’t think of it as just an event or party, try and think of it as more of an overall experience. Pay attention to the fine details and identify all guest touch points where you can infuse interactive elements, your theme and of course some fun. Below are some key areas to consider during your planning phase.
1) The First Impression
We all know the importance put on a first impression. Often at events the arrival of guests is a logistical whirlwind. From finding parking, checking in, dealing with coat check, etc., there is no shortage of to-dos for your guests to manage. To alleviate the stress of these practical tasks inject a bit of fun and thoughtfulness into their first steps.
Guests are often greeted with a photo opportunity to welcome them. Instead of using a traditional logo soup step and repeat, design and build something more eye-catching and engaging such as a 3D backdrop or integrate an installation or props. If you can provide guests with a hardcopy or digital version of their photo on-the-spot that’s even better. This not only gets your guests in a playful mood but it also provides the first touch point for them to start talking about the party and sharing on their social channels.
2) Animate and Entertain
Parties are full of opportunities to wow and engage your guests. One natural area to do this is with food and beverage. Awaken your catering by developing interactive food stations complete with live prep, finishings and customizable options. Take it even further by bringing the food station to life through the use of models and actors to animate and serve. Using props and mobile displays to deliver themed food stations is a simple and head-turning way to animate the experience and interact with your guests.
Another great way to entertain is by creating an experience that provides a place for guests to take a break, leave their mark and most of all have some fun. Perhaps that’s an interactive technology installation, a collaborative art piece, or a self-serve DIY station. Get creative and think of activities that will tie into your theme and provide a nice and unexpected pause to the evening. Remember to keep it simple enough for guests to understand what is being asked of them and allow them to participate in under five minutes.
3) Leave a Lasting Impression
By the time your guests are saying goodbyes and grabbing their coats they are likely full of good feelings from the amazing time they just had. To amplify this sentiment treat them to a memorable exit. Distributing smart and useful thank you gifts is an easy way to extend the party experience past their departure and entertain them on their travels home. Also, keep in mind that the right thank you gift may even be rewarded with a post on social media so don’t forget to identify your handle or hashtag.
Outside of what I have outlined there are many other ways and opportunities to activate your next party but there is the danger of over programming the guest experience. To avoid this ensure you always keep top of mind the type of event you are hosting, your audience, guest flow and your venue. Injecting experiences into your party should elevate the overall event and alleviate annoyances, not make it overwhelming. As a golden rule, keep things relevant, unique, authentic and never forced.