Now more than ever we’re in need of some great ways to relax and unwind, and while our movements are restricted and we can’t change the venue at least we can change the vibe. Check out our tips for hosting a Virtual Friday Nights Drinks: it’s the most fun you’ll have this side of your front door.
Keep it small
The only thing worse than a socially awkward moment in person is a socially awkward moment on screen. So just like you’re mindful of who you invite to your social gatherings in real time, it’s crucial to think carefully about your invite list.
Here, balance is key. What you’re going for as a virtual drinks host is an online environment where everyone holds equal space, and where all guests have the chance to contribute and respond. Whereas in real life the setting of the social event tends to set the pace of the conversation (think loud, shouty rants in a noisy pub versus the more even tempo of a night out at a fancy restaurant), the flow of the events in the virtual arena really comes down to movement and rhythm of the conversation.
The golden rule here is: if you’re hosting a virtual drinks for the first time, best to keep the guest list small. Think through the kind of evening you want to create and compose the guest list from there.
Set the menu
In a restaurant or pub the venue creates structure for the evening – people get up to order drinks, meals arrive, and punters come and go. This structure takes care of the momentum of the evening: and the trick to a successful virtual drinks session is to replicate this structure as much as you can.
Choosing a theme and a drinks/snacks menu is one way to do this, so everyone is on common ground when it comes to eats, drinks, and also attire. No need to get super fancy – just replicate the Happy Hour menu at your local (think beers and pizza) or choose a colour or a destination and go from there. Don’t forget to put non-alcoholic drinks on the menu – Virtual Friday Night Drinks’ heart is in inclusivity.
Sounds pretty obvious, but pacing the drinking is everything when it comes to virtual drinks. Without the ordinary pacing factors such as the line at the bar and the prohibitive cost of drinks, online drinking can go downhill pretty quick.
A good way to stay safe while drinking is to do virtual rounds. Every guest can take it in turns to call a trip to the ‘bar’, which gives everybody a chance to get up, have a stretch, and freshen their drink.
Think about busting out some conversation prompts to get your evening started – if you’re the host, you could begin the evening by asking your guests about the best/worst event of their week, or what the first thing they’ll do is once the restrictions are lifted. Remember, the idea is to keep things light and accessible – so everyone can feel comfortable in this new social space and it’s a positive experience for all.