Coord 207: Hosting a Successful Social Event

Club socials are a great way for members to get together outside of the game environment, and a huge part of what we are as an organization. The point of the Mind’s Eye Society is not just to have a group to game with, but a community of gamers to socialize with as well. Social interactions help players to learn more about the player and separate them from the character they know in game.

A social can be any gathering of club members for a wide variety of reasons. They can be in celebration of a special event in the life of a member, such as a birthday or graduation. A social event can also be a one time gathering for the release of a new movie, or a recurring event such as a regularly scheduled board game night. A sanctioned social event must meet certain criteria as laid out by the Membership Handbook, but the hallmark of a Mind’s Eye Society social event is that it is open to all members of good standing.

A full checklist for planning social events can be found here.

What Kind of Social is it?

First the coordinator decides what type of event they wish to host, as well as the goal of the event. The goal of the event doesn’t need to be anything more complicated than getting members together to enjoy themselves, but it is a good thing to keep in mind what the focus of the event is going to be.

Are children allowed at this event?

Sanctioned social events are open to all members in good standing, but not all sanctioned social events are kid friendly. The coordinator should determine if the idea of the social event is child friendly during planning. Some socials, like an afternoon BBQ, are great for kids, but a night of rated-R scary movies might be something parents want to leave the kids at home for.

Some examples of social events

One time events:

  • Host a potluck or BBQ
  • Host a pizza, popcorn and movie night
  • Check out a new restaurant
  • Flag football day, disc golf day, or other group sporting event
  • Hiking or biking afternoon

Recurring events:

  • Adventure Sunday: Pick something new and adventurous to do once a month
  • Monthly movie night, or board game night
  • Get a group together for a craft party

Special events:

  • New release movies, birthdays, graduation…

Join another social club:

  • Get a group from the domain to join a walking or running club

Will There be a Cost or Donation Required for the Event?

Some social events are minimal cost. It doesn’t cost much to get a group together to go on a hike for the afternoon, but if the coordinator decides to make it a dinner and a movie night that cost might price some folks out of participating. Let folks know what the costs are going to be before showing up.

Social event donations

While planning to host a social event, such as a BBQ or potluck where members are asked to bring donations to the event, then those contributions are worth of Prestige (huzzah!). Make sure there is going to be someone on hand at the event (usually the coordinator, or someone appointed by the coordinator) who can jot down what donations were brought and by whom. This ensures everyone will get counted and recognized for their contributions.

Donations of alcohol are not eligible for Prestige; folks are welcome to bring it, but since not everyone can drink it, only the non-alcoholic stuff can be awarded prestige.

Social events with alcohol

On many occasions we want to celebrate with alcohol. It’s perfectly fine to have a social event where alcohol is present, so long as:

  1. The host or proprietor of the location says it’s okay to have alcohol on site
  2. Alcohol is not given to anyone below legal drinking age.

Please urge members to avoid putting themselves in a bad situation by violating these rules. Remind members serving alcohol to minors penalties can be very serious, and if it’s not your house, or your business, don’t assume it’s okay to have alcohol there.

Prestige for social events

Chapter Five of the Membership Handbook has rules and guidelines for Prestige awards that coordinators can award to members who dedicate their time and money to help making the event fantastic for everyone. A best practice for a coordinator is to mark who assisted and how on the sign in sheet.

When/Where are we Going to Have This Social?

When

Now we get into the logistics of where and when should the social be hosted. If the social is to be planned around a specific event, such as a birthday or movie event, then the when becomes easier. For social events that are not time or date dependent, it becomes more of a juggling game to find a suitable time.

It’s not always easy to find a date and time that is going to suit everyone; in fact, it’s very likely that no matter what time and date is picked, someone isn’t going to be able to attend. Work, school, kids and other obligations are what we have to deal with as adults. Pick a time and date that is easiest for the organizer, and will accommodate the largest group of members possible. A good time for a social might be to get together on the same day as a domain’s regularly scheduled game, and meet a few hours prior to the game to get together for a non-game related activity. Host a meal prior to that evening’s game start. Get everyone together to do an afternoon hike before getting changed and ready for game. It’s more likely that folks already have that time off, and ensures the event won’t be interfering with a regularly scheduled game.

Make sure that all dates and times are run through the coordinator staff prior to sending out the event announcements. A coordinator, or person appointed by the coordinator, needs to be on hand for the event to be a club sanctioned event. Sanctioned events differ from other social gatherings of members or non-members in that they must be open to all members in good standing, and a coordinator (or someone appointed in their stead) must be on hand.

Where

Finding sites for socials is about as difficult as finding sites for games themselves. Here again it is largely dependent on what type of social is being planned. If there’s a music event happening nearby that the domain wants to attend, then the coordinator doesn’t have to worry as much about arranging for space for the social, instead the domain just shows up where the organizers of the event have placed it. It is important, however, that when picking the site for a social, it is a place where all members will be welcome. Bars and areas where folks under 21 are not allowed won’t work for all members and should be avoided.

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If the event is going to be hosted at a paid site, make sure members know the cost of attending up front. If the domain or chapter is lucky enough to have a member willing to offer up their house to host the event, remind folks that this is someone’s home and to respect it as such. If there are rules specific to the location (such as don’t leave your cigarette butts on the ground outside) make sure there are some posted signs with the rules clearly laid out. Be courteous of the use of space, and remind folks to clean up after themselves.

For outdoor excursions, such as a group bike ride or hiking, make sure everyone knows exactly where to meet to start the outing and exchange phone numbers to help contact members who get lost. Assign some of the attendees the job of bringing extra sunscreen, water, etc. as there may be participants who forget.

 

Announcing a Event

It has been said that if you want folks to remember something, tell it to them three ways. A decent amount of communication is to give them written notification of the event over email or social media, tell members in person either through a game announcement or phone tree, and hand out fliers reminding them of the event. Do at least two of these things to help folks remember the event. If possible, remind them 3 weeks, 3 days, and 3 hours before the event. We’re all human, we all forget things, and to have a successful event, folks need to be reminded.

When posting about a MES event, include pertinent information such as when is the event, where is the event, and how much the event will cost. Are there particular do’s and don’ts about the event, is there some place in particular people should park, and certain rules they need to know about the site? Make sure people know what is expected of them at the event, and what they’ll get out of it. If a social event is given no advance planning of 48 hours or more notice and not all club members were invited, then this cannot be considered a club related social event.

If the domain or chapter has a Facebook or social media site to announce the event, put all the relevant information up on that site so members can refer back to it as often as they need to. Place sign-up information there if folks are expected to bring donations to the event. Make sure that if there is a cost associated with the event that this is also noted in the announcement.

Online sites that make social organization easier

  • Shutterfly
  • Big Tent
  • Evite
  • Punchbowl
  • Eventbrite
  • Meetup

At the Event

Taking pictures of events is a good way to help promote future activities and having members connect to events. Please keep in mind to ask people if they mind their picture being taken and send the photos of the events out to the group afterwards.

Have fun. Seriously, don’t forget that the main reason we have social events is so we can enjoy ourselves and the company of our friends.

The on-site coordinator should remind members to clean up after themselves and solicit help from members to assist cleaning up. Leaving the space in the same shape as it was when the group arrived helps create a good impression on the hosts to hold future events.