Between Omicron, ever-changing COVID rules, and people coming down with bad cases of HOGO (the hassle of going out), we all need a little help this party season. With that in mind, hertelier had a chat with Amy O'Keefe, an event planner who has spent years leading events for top hoteliers and restaurateurs In New York City, on how to have a successful event during this crazy time.
Amy's top 5 tips for hosting a great event this holiday season:
Start Small. While we continue to navigate so many unknowns during this pandemic, it is clear that smaller gatherings are safer than large events. Instead of a company-wide bash, pivot to individual team events. Planning a wedding? Let go of those obligatory invites for your distant friends or relatives. As a silver lining, smaller events tend to better facilitate authentic connections amongst your guests.
The Great Outdoors. Most experts believe the virus is less transmissible outside, and besides, who doesn’t love an outdoor event? Even in the winter in the Northeast, there are venues with heated terraces, and your guests may now be more accustomed to gathering outside and dressing for the elements. Just make sure you have a weather backup plan for rain or snow, and have fun with it! Source branded throw blankets and cozy pillows to warm up your seating areas and serve Hot Toddies or Mulled Wine.
Safety First. Some areas require proof of vaccination for indoor dining and will check your guests automatically on arrival. If not, consider pre-screening for vaccination through an app like Vow Digital Health. For smaller groups, you may even want to conduct rapid tests on-site or in advance. Rather than seeing this as an imposition, know that most guests will appreciate your efforts to keep everyone safe.
Bye Bye Buffet. Stick with passed canapes or plated meals to limit the number of people coming into contact with your food. For your next cocktail party, try passed small plates, which are more substantial than hors d’oeuvres and still provide a multiple course “dinner” experience.
Take Care of the Staff. Hospitality workers have been through a LOT during the pandemic. Be kind to your service team and add an extra gratuity! Consider tipping the culinary team and housemen as well as the captains, servers, and bartenders. They will appreciate the gesture and the recognition of their hard work.
Amy O'Keefe is an Event Planner & Producer with 15 years of experience working for acclaimed hoteliers and restaurateurs and a degree from the Cornell University Nolan School of Hotel Administration. She specializes in events for female-founded companies including corporate offsite meetings, community-building events, launch events, and holiday parties. Amy is the Head of Experiences for mysha, a startup offering an intimate community and resources for modern moms, and is a mother of two herself.