With the end of year fast approaching, and everyone getting excited about their upcoming holiday breaks, our Events team wanted to plan one more virtual get together with our team to end the year off with a bang! Here’s the step-by-step process we followed to set up a ‘Masterchef Mystery Box’ team event. Get ready – your time starts now!
1. Decide on the team event
Since we were planning a team event, we wanted to make sure that everyone had a say in what type of event we ran. However, to avoid 15 different opinions, we decided to come up with a few options that the team could pick from.
Our first step in choosing these options was to think about the individuals that we have on our team, and what might appeal to them: Some people on the team are into fitness – we could start the day with a fun workout! Others love games – let’s organise a virtual games evening!
Once we’d come up with a range of ideas, we listed them on Slack and asked everyone to vote for their favourite. (Remember: You won’t be able to make everyone happy by taking this approach, but majority rules.)
In the end, our team opted for the MasterChef mystery cooking challenge.
If your team isn’t into cooking, we’ve elaborated on our other ideas at the end of the article to hopefully give you some inspiration!
2. Get your team’s info
Once our team had decided on the ‘Masterchef Mystery Box’ event, the next step was to get everyone’s dietary and contact information.
Because there are 15 of us in the team, we decided not to DM everyone because trying to keep track of so many different conversations would have made it easier for details to fall through the cracks.
Instead, we opted to use a Google Sheet to keep all of the information we needed in one easily-accessible place. We asked everyone in our team Slack channel to fill in their details for the event on the sheet. We also made sure to set a deadline so that we had all the information that we needed on time to get organising!
3. DIY or find a supplier
We spent a fair amount of time thinking about whether or not we should find a supplier to help us build and deliver the boxes, or whether we should do it ourselves. From what our research told us, this decision came down to team size and the amount of time we had before the event.
Do-it-yourself: Best for teams of five or under
If you’re a small team and you have the capacity to organise every tiny detail, then DIY can be fun. Here are the two main things you need to do:
Figure out the boxes
The easiest way to get started if you’re organising this event yourself is to google ‘MasterChef Mystery Box ideas’. It seems straightforward, but from what we discovered, it details every ingredient that you need to put into your box so that your teammates can actually cook a meal. Forgetting to include a garlic clove, for example, could spell disaster! ;-)
Once you know what you’re cooking – as well as all the ingredients that you need for the meal – we saw that drawing up a template for each team member was useful to make sure that everyone’s boxes got all the ingredients – and that every team member was accounted for!
Find your delivery service
In South Africa, we are lucky to have lots of same-day delivery services from supermarkets like Woolworths and Checkers. While it’s easy to shop online for all the ingredients you need for your box, it’s also where all the manual works comes in as you will have to order the same box with the same ingredients for everyone taking part!
This is where the checklist can come in handy again. You can use it to make sure that you are ordering the right things, delivering them to the right address, and choosing the right delivery day! It doesn’t help if the box gets delivered the day after the event!
Find a supplier to help you organise the details
There are fifteen people on our team, with three of them based outside of Cape Town. This means there were quite a few boxes to pack, which would take up a significant amount of time for our two-people Events team. We decided to turn to a food box supplier to help us figure out the details, pack and deliver our boxes.
Here are a few options that we explored:
- UCook: Even though it’s not a typical ‘mystery box’ – as their boxes come with ingredients for a specific meal – UCook was still a fun option to consider to get the team to cook together. They have a range of meals that they send out every week, so we thought it might be fun to surprise team members with different options on the day.
- Daily dish: This service is similar to UCook in that they also make yummy dinner boxes with a range of options to choose from.
Although both these companies make really delicious food boxes, we opted to support a company called The Virtual Bakery. They normally create breakfast boxes but were excited to help us build unique mystery boxes once we enquired.
After doing a bunch of research, and then working with the team at The Virtual Bakery to bring our idea to life, we found that there are two big pros to working with a supplier for an event like this:
- They take the guesswork out of what goes in the boxes: Jessica, the owner, sent us many options that we could play with. Eventually we opted for a veggie pasta meal, as this suited most people’s dietary requirements.
- They order, pack and deliver everything: All we had to do was send a list with everyone’s dietary requirements, delivery addresses, and contact information.
For the three people on our team who aren’t in Cape Town, we decided to ‘DIY’ their boxes. However, having the guidance from our supplier was very helpful as we had a list of ingredients and an easy ordering and delivering process to follow.
4. Finally, host the event and have some fun!
When thinking about how the actual event would play out, we had to remember that cooking is quite an intensive process. People aren’t going to be looking at the screen the whole time, or always be talking. They will be moving around the kitchen, making jokes every now and then – all while trying to figure out how to make a dish with pasta and chocolate!
To make sure that the event served its purpose – to bring people together and have some fun as a group after a long year – we tried to do these three things:
Encourage connection and talking, but don’t make it a requirement
We said from the beginning that videos were a must. We wanted everyone to see each other’s chaos erupting in the kitchen. When it came to sound, we encouraged everyone to leave their mics on to help the banter flow more naturally. However, if someone’s background goings-on was too noisy, we asked them to mute themselves when they weren’t talking.
Time cap the session – realistically
Because we weren’t all in the same room doing the cooking together, we needed to give the event some structure by setting a time when the meal needed to be ready. We did this so that the event didn’t run for hours and hours, and also so that everyone’s food could be ready at the same time and we could eat together.
To add an extra element of fun, we asked everyone to ‘present’ their meals once we were all seated at the table. We set up a scoring process based on the following things:
- How many of the mystery box ingredients were actually used
- If the dish was completed on time
- Who could pitch their meal the best – the funnier the better
After this, we just let the conversation flow, drank our wine and enjoyed ‘being’ altogether, albeit on Zoom.
Other virtual team event ideas
While our team had a lot of fun with the MasterChef Mystery Box challenge, we thought that we would share a few other ideas for you and your team to explore:
- Virtual happy hour: Order some drinks for everyone to enjoy together at the end of the day
- Virtual charades: Host a virtual session where team members need to act out something like a movie title within 60 seconds over Zoom. Trust me – photos from this will be remembered forever!
- Scavenger hunt at home: Get team members to complete dares, solve mystery clues and collect items worth points by using things commonly found at home. This can be quite fun as people often uncover things they forget they had!
- Team trivia: Ask a series of trivia questions, playing in groups or individually. You can make this event themed – think Harry Potter or sports – or you could make it completely random and ask about everything – including the history of the kitchen sink! ;-)
- At-home painting kit: See your team’s creative talents come to life with an at home painting kit, which you can order from Clay Café if you’re in Cape Town.
- Online games night: Get teams to remotely take part and play in fun online games. There are hundreds you can choose from!
If you found this useful, and decide to run a virtual event with your own team, please share your pictures with us! We’d love to see what you do to celebrate the end of a long year!