Safe celebration: How to plan your very own drive-by event

Drive-by events are reviving celebrations so that even though we need to social distance we still can enjoy a party.

Now that it is spring, it also means you can enjoy the winning combination of fresh-air while staying in your car seat.

For many South Africans, the defining quality of a celebration is being surrounded by those we love the most. Whether this means your closest friends or family, celebrations should be a special time.

In 2020 that now includes drive-by parties for traditional events like baby showers, birthdays, anniversaries and even kitchen teas.

While a drive-by may not be quite as fun as having everyone in the same room, it is the safer alternative and can still be special.

Seven steps for a drive-by event

c8908d98 drive by1 - Safe celebration: How to plan your very own drive-by event
Image: Adobe Stock

1. Decide on a time, date and venue

When it comes to drive-by events, time is truly of the essence. Here are three suggestions for you to choose from:

  1. Same drive-by time for all – this seems to be the most common way. Pick a nearby street or location for everyone to meet and designate a lead car to guide the tour to the house where the celebration will take place.
  2. Drive-by by appointment – give each guest a designated time slot for them to visit in the driveway. This gives every person a chance to visit and enjoy quality time with the party person.
  3. Drive-by window – this is more of a come and go as you please way. Give everyone a time slot of an hour or two for them to drive by at their convenience.

2. Design and send invitations

You can only do the invites after you have planned the time, date, venue and other practical details. It is also great to have a theme.

Send it out at least two weeks before the event, preferably longer. If you set up a WhatsApp group for the drive-by, use a square version of the invite containing all the details as the group icon.

This way, if you add people to the WhatsApp group after posting the invitation details, they can still see the information at a glance.

Unlike a paper invitation, digital invitations allow you to get creative with your invite layout and design. You can also include images and graphics.

When creating the general digital invitation, remember the basics such as: the date, address and time slot of the event. Don’t forget to include the RSVP person’s name and number also.

Remind your guests that you will be outside and waiting to greet them from their cars. Also, that social distancing and wearing a mask are a must.

  • Not sure how to design an invite? There are free design apps like Canva which have many versatile digital invitation templates.

3. Put up decorations

Decorate the front of your house with balloons, sidewalk chalk, signs, music, banners and even a special chair for the guest of honour.

If you are not looking to do it yourself, and you have a budget, you also can contact a local décor or events company.

4. Set up a drive-by gift table

If you want to make sure people can drop off gifts without getting too close, set up a gift table they can reach from their car windows.

This way they can drop off special gifts, treats or surprises for the party person.

5. Set up a ‘goodie bag’ table

If you want every guest to get a little surprise, set up a goodie bag table that is also on a level that people can reach from their car windows safely.

That way, when the visit ends and they are ready to leave, you give them a little gift to take home.

Most goodie bags or boxes contain little treats such as a cupcake, chocolate, biscuits, a drink, snacks and some sweets. However, it is important that you plan your goodie bag or box according to the context (birthday, baby shower, kitchen tea and so on). Think of it as an adult version of the kiddies’ party box.

6. Capture the moment

Whether you hire a professional videographer or just ask a friend to help, we suggest you capture every moment.

At the end of the day you or your camera buddy can use the images and video snippets to make a memento which you can share with your guests.

If guests are all there at separate times, they won’t be able to mingle and chat to everyone. A video reminder will at least show them who was there and make everyone feel included.

7. Add a Zoom ‘gift opening’

Want to be able to open your presents with all your guests? The drive-by won’t really allow that but you can add a Zoom party with your guests afterwards. This will let everyone share in the joy as you open their wonderful gifts.

Other drive-by party pointers

  • Encourage your guests to make a sign. It  does not have to be elaborate or fancy.
  • You also can ask them to honk their horn, decorate their car with some balloons, write on the windows, or use their sunroof.
  • Like any other celebrations, you generally plan a drive-by event well in advance. That means you may not be able to forecast the weather for the day.
  • If you see that the weather will be bad, you may need to move the party to the garage.
  • Keep a few umbrellas, a tent and Wellington boots on standby. There is no need to let a little rain dampen the festive spirit!

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