Just like planning any get-together, virtual happy hours require some thought and preparation. Even though this may not be a registered event, the party planning guide has some good first steps. https://alcohol.stanford.edu/party-planning/planning-your-party . Here are some *tips to help you plan one for your friends or organization:
Keep the gatherings small and manageable- no more than 10 people - otherwise your guests won't be able to be heard and conversations won't flow well. Encourage participants to “mute” themselves when not speaking if the audio quality starts to suffer.
Just like you would for any party, set a start and end time.
Have attendees use the grid option (labeled as “Gallery” on Zoom) so they can see everyone who is there.
As the host, provide suggestions on drinks and snacks for the guests. Make sure to include EANABS (equally attractive non-alcoholic beverages, like kombucha, sparkling apple cider, iced tea, sparkling water) as drink options.
Is this a themed event? A wine or beer tasting? What about a cocktail hour? Is it something more casual? Do you want guests to dress up a bit, or are sweats OK?
If there is a theme make certain it is not insensitive or offensive.
If doing a cocktail hour, have an easy-to-make signature drink that guests can make together.
Think about the timing of where folks might be around the country or world (coffee might be appropriate if it’s morning in some places).
Do your best to make sure people are alternating between alcohol and EANABS.
Avoid drinking games as they promote rapid consumption of alcohol.
Be mindful of how much alcohol you are drinking. People tend to overpour drinks for themselves.
Try to keep the conversation light.
Have planned activities on hand to encourage everyone to be involved. Groups can watch a show or movie together if one person shares their screen. Also consider multiple player online video games.
Be a good host and encourage each guest to engage in the conversation. Check-in with people who may not be talking much.
Use headphones in order to not disturb your roommates (if they aren’t participating).
This is about keeping social connections while physically distancing, so make it about the conversations and catching up rather than about the alcohol.
*Some of these suggestions are shared from the New York Times, How to Have a Successful Virtual Happy Hour,article published on March 20, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/well/virus-virtual-happy-hour.html