We all know that unforeseen circumstances can get in the way of an event – and our current COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak here in the Spring of 2020 brings this into question a lot right now. With the latest guidance that we don’t gather in groups of 10 or more, this is really getting serious. Maybe your venue cancels or closes, or bad weather puts your guest’s safety at risk. Here are our tips to gracefully cancel your party or planned event since I’m sure this is going to be happening a lot right now. Even though we are in the BUSINESS of parties, we want you safe, and give you resources to bow out of the party in style. We all will be back to partying like it 2020 post-pandemic!
So what should you do when faced with the difficult decision to cancel an event? Here are some tips to help you turn an unfortunate situation into an opportunity to do good, and connect one on one with your guests.
1. Communicate with your party guests
If you’re sure you have to cancel your event, the first important step is to COMMUNICATE. Guests will appreciate you thinking of their safety and being responsible citizens over having a good time and something terrible happens as a result of going thru with the event.
Ideally, you’ll give at least 24 hours notice. However, the more notice — whether it’s a week, or a month — the better. With inclement weather and other emergencies, it really is best to make the call as soon as possible – this is especially true if guests are traveling far and need time to re-arrange travel plans, hotels, etc.
Email or text your guests as soon as you can, and if possible, give everyone a call. Some people don’t always check their email, especially on weekends, and emails often go into Spam folders, so take all possible routes (even social media) to communicate this critical information. Ideally, you should confirm from each guest that they DID receive the cancellation, even if you send a quick text. If your guest list is big – divide up this with a trusted friend or loved one.
Here’s an example to get you started:
This message is to inform you that the bridal shower for XXX has been canceled, due to a decision to practice social distancing during the Coronavirus outbreak, and a high number of guest that are elderly. The safety of friends and family always comes first!
2. Cancel catered food or other items right away
Whether it’s fresh flowers, catering, a hired bartender or other items not yet received but contracted, you will likely lose your deposit and depending on the amount of notice you provide you may still be fully responsible for payment. Check your contract, and call your vendor as soon as possible (this is part of why making the decision early is best!)
If you are going to have to eat the cost of catered food, rather than having it go to waste, consider asking the caterer if it can be delivered to a local fire department, hospital staff or another group of people working around the clock during an emergency, and would be a GREAT way to say thank you – returning a little goodwill despite the disappointment of canceling the event. (Of course, if you want to go this route, check on this ahead of time with the group you are thinking of!)
Consider having any fresh flowers delivered to a church or nursing home. Of course, right now during the Coronavirus pandemic, there are restrictions on nursing home visits so please, please, please check first with facility administration first.
3. Consider if the party can be rescheduled or parts of the event still held VIRTUALLY
If you still want to host your event at a later time (Baby Showers can become a 1/2 year celebration at a back yard Baby-que later this year) then let your guests know what you are thinking and by all means ASK them what they think! You might get some interesting suggestions and this helps reemphasize your care for the guests and their inconvenience.
For a big milestone birthday or gender reveal, consider doing the big moments virtually. Use Zoom, Facebook Live or other virtual means to share the big moments live with the intended guests. We all still need LOTS of love and community even when in quarantine or social distancing situations, so SHARE SHARE SHARE all that you can virtually with your loved ones.
It’s every event party host’s worst-case scenario to have to cancel an event due to a Pandemic viral outbreak (that is NOT a sentence that I thought I’d be writing this year!) but done in an open, responsible way, it doesn’t have to be a complete disappointment.
Do you have any experiences related to canceling an event or party? We would love to hear about it! Drop your comments below.
Don’t forget to help out other hostesses struggling to gracefully cancel an event by pinning the image below.
Please, please, please follow all the federal, state and local guidance surrounding this pandemic and stay safe!