Hi! I have been asked to take an event, Service Awards, which traditionally (30+ years) is an in-person banquet wherein years of service are honored throughout the evening with gifts and speeches. Due to covid-19, I’ve been asked to re-imagine this event in a virtual setting this year, no banquet, for about 60 people. Any suggestions for how to make this event meaningful for team members who have given their time to our org via Zoom?? I would love any ideas or perhaps words of wisdom from others who have had to take a formal in-person event to a remote setting this year. Thanks all for your input. -Dani
Hi Dani! I am not quite sure if this information will be suitable, but we did just hold a retirement party for one of our Leaders/Co-Owners over Zoom, which also was originally going to be a big dinner & party with 60 odd team members.
Firstly, we did everything we could to make what is yet another Zoom a little more special! We had a proper invite made up that was still distributed via an Outlook calendar invite but obviously was a bit more exciting than just a Zoom link. The invite was created in the style of our theme, and we also all wore items on camera that matched the theme. We also added to that with everyone setting up an on-theme Zoom background.
Also not sure if this is possible for your situation, but we got in touch with the retiree’s partner and pre-sent gifts to him (which were numbered 1, 2 & 3 so we could share them across the evening at the right time) and so we were able to surprise her with gifts that were scattered throughout the Zoom call with the help of the partner, who also attended the Zoom. Two of these gifts were standard farewell gifts, lovely wine etc, however we also had previously pulled together a sort of photobook with messages from all the team that we had requested a few months prior, and a great range of photos of her as well. This was obviously very personal and quite out of the blue but was a nice way to record all those messages that you would normally share at a party! Finally it was an evening of speeches, led by the other co-owners, and we prearranged for anyone who wanted to speak to say thank you and goodbye, but still had plenty of time for others who wanted to say some well wishes as well. So it did run to a semi-schedule but was also very relaxed. Everyone came along to the Zoom with a drink of their choice and we even had a game of bingo - with the boxes to cross off featuring different photos of our Retiree, so then each time a different photo got called, she would share a memory of where/when it was taken (which was not originally intended but worked out great!) All the gifts, speeches from the team and the bingo were a surprise to her. We played her favourite song and all danced / sang together to finish off the call.
Again it may not be exactly right for what your event is, but it ran really well and was as a fitting send off as we could make it in the circumstances! Good luck!
In addition to Lissie’s suggestions (which sound great), I wonder whether you could arrange for something edible to be sent to everyone’s homes in advance of the event, so you can also enjoy that part together as well. An extensive feast might not be workable, but I am sure you could find a company (location dependent) that could distribute something like little picnic boxes, afternoon tea, that could be delivered in advance and stored until the event for everyone to eat together virtually.
That is a great idea! Thank you so much @GemmaJ!
I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to share about the retirement party. Actually, it gave me quite a few new ideas to play with and to try to incorporate into our event. I love all of the special touches you and your team did to make everything memorable. Thank you again! -Dani