Social events

You don’t need to organise social events; the community will organise itself and most people will have a great time. All the same, a conference dinner (preferably on the first night) helps people establish new connections and friendships and is especially valuable for newcomers who have arrived on their own.

You don’t have to go to too much trouble: simply suggesting a gathering place for food or drinks helps, and if you can organise something, so much the better.

Another option is to contact a few favourite local restaurants, and ask them to provide a fixed-price meal; you can sell tickets for this meal along with with the conference tickets, and settle up with the restaurants later. This arrangement makes life easy for the restauranteurs, and gives your attendees an easy recommended option for a dinner or two.

You can also use social events to help encourage people towards certain parts of your schedule. Typically, nothing is planned for the evenings of the sprints, but announcing that your big conference party will be held on an evening after a day’s sprint will make it clear that the sprints are being treated as an integral part of the event, not an add-on.

If you can afford it, taking your speakers, volunteers and sponsors to dinner is a nice way to say thank-you.


Be aware that:

  • many people - probably more than you realise if you do drink yourself - don’t drink alcohol
  • alcoholic drinks are more expensive than other drinks
  • alcohol can fuel unwanted behaviour

It’s fair to ensure that your non-drinking attendees are also catered for.

If you’re going to provide alcohol at social events or meals, it means that the non-drinkers are paying for the drinkers’ pleasure. This doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t do it, as there will be numerous aspects of the event that some people are “paying for” but won’t benefit from, and that’s simply unavoidable.

It’s strongly advisable not to furnish attendees with excessive quantities of free alcohol. The combination of drink and high spirits can easily take a wrong direction. Many complaints of inappropriate behaviour at events are actually about what happens at conference parties.

Code of conduct

Ensure that it’s made very clear that the conference code of conduct not only applies to all social events, but even to informal and unofficial gatherings of people attending the conference.

Being a good host

You - the committee - are the hosts, wherever your meal or part is being held. You should be the first to arrive and the last to sit down to eat or have a drink (this applies at social events - if you need to jump the lunch queue because you have to get back to your duties, that’s perfectly allright).

If possible, you should know who your attendees with special dietary requirements are, so that you can check whether they have received the appropriate food.

It’s also your responsibility to help make sure that no-one is sitting on their own, or left out at a meal or party.

You can’t be responsible for everything and everybody, but you can, as a committee, look after your guests.