As a member of the Verizon VIPs crowd on Crowdtap, I was given the wonderful opportunity to host a Microsoft Windows 8 Party showcasing the new Windows Phone 8X by HTC! I was ecstatic when I learned that I was chosen for this opportunity, because I’ve been a long-time Microsoft user, had just purchased a new Windows 8 laptop (with a touchscreen interface!), and I know people who are interested in upgrading to a smartphone, so this seemed like a perfect event to host! I was excited to try out and learn about the features of this new phone and Windows 8, compare it to current smartphones and operating systems on the market, as well as demonstrate its functions and benefits to my friends and family!
Due to the generosity of Verizon and Crowdtap, I was provided a fully activated Windows Phone 8X by HTC to feature at the party, a $75 American Express gift card to help offset costs of refreshments and decorations for the party, as well as three Verizon Swagbags full of prizes for the winners of the “Meet My Windows Phone” Pinterest Challenge held during the party (described below)! The party box that was shipped to me weighed 14 lbs, and it felt like Christmas as I opened it and explored the contents inside!
I decided to hold my party at my parents’ house about an hour’s drive away from where I currently reside, because I live in a small apartment that wouldn’t be conducive to hosting a party for multiple guests! As such, my invited guests were mainly friends from my parents’ Chinese church, many of them university students whom I figured would be interested in the latest developments in mobile technology!
I created an Event on Facebook and sent out invites to all my guests. Because Facebook is so ubiquitous nowadays, I thought it would be the easiest and most convenient way to contact individuals, disseminate party information, and answer any questions that came up. I posted a general description of the party and what it was about on the Events page, as well as multiple poll-option questions that gauged my guests’ current smartphone/mobile device usage, familiarity with Pinterest, and general “technological adeptness”. Since the Pinterest Challenge was a major activity planned for the party, I wanted to get an idea ahead of time on how many guests currently used the site to determine if and in how much detail I’d have to demonstrate how to use it. I also thought it would be interesting to see how many people currently use competitor operating systems, iOS/Apple and Android.
I received a good response on Facebook, and I set the party date for February 16th, a Saturday, from 1:30pm-3:30pm. I thought more people would be able to attend on a weekend, and given the fact that I work full-time, I wouldn’t realistically be able to host a party during the weekday!
So, now that I had my party date set and my guests invited, I had to plan the details, such as the decorations, food, refreshments, and so forth! Of course, the main focus was always going to be on the Windows 8 Phone. But given that Chinese New Year’s was the previous weekend (February 9th), and all my guests were Chinese, I thought it would be fun to tie in Chinese New Year’s with the Windows 8 celebration! Somewhat fortuitously, the number “8” also symbolizes “prosperity” in Chinese culture, so I thought it was a perfect link to tie everything together! I hoped to relate the positivity and progressiveness of Windows 8 with the optimism and aspiration wished for on Chinese New Year’s! As such, the running theme for the party was: “Happy Chinese New Year’s with Windows 8!”
Given the “Windows 8” and “Chinese New Year’s” themes for the party, I decided to choose the snacks and refreshments based on these two topics. To go along with the Chinese New Year’s theme, I planned on serving small, Chinese-style snacks and appetizers, such as dumplings, egg rolls, etc. My mother also agreed to make two Chinese-style dishes: turnip cakes (a savory fried appetizer usually enjoyed in Dim Sum dining) as well as Nian Gao (a sweet red-bean cake-like dish traditionally eaten on New Year’s for good luck, which literally translates to “sticky cake”).
To tie in the Windows 8 theme into the refreshments, I decided to choose snacks that were square-shaped and/or colorful, which represents the “Windows Tiles” featured on the Windows 8 start screen! I bought Starburst candies (which are both colorful AND square!), made Rice Krispies treats (square-shaped!), and originally planned to make four different jellos that correspond to the four Microsoft colors (red, green, blue, yellow). Unfortunately, the jello was too soft to cut into nice squares, so we ended up placing each color in a separate bowl for guests to scoop out and enjoy themselves! I also baked cupcakes and topped the frosting with some colorful sprinkles that included the Microsoft colors!
The decorations were chosen to emphasize Microsoft Windows 8! So I used four different colored napkins that form the red, green, blue, and yellow “flag” of Microsoft’s icon throughout the house, and also hung up some red ribbons (for Verizon!) and red, blue, and green paper-ruffled “balls”! The main banner displayed the greeting: “Happy Chinese New Years (in Chinese) with Windows 8!” to welcome everyone to the party!
From the poll questions that I had asked on Facebook on the Party Events page, I gathered that most of my guests were not familiar with Pinterest. But I assured them I would show them how to use it at the party and asked that they download the Pinterest App (if they were going to bring/use their smartphone/tablet for the Pinterest Challenge) prior to the party. I set up my computer to display on my parents’ television so that my guests could see my “tutorial” better. And because my laptop is a Windows 8 touchscreen laptop, I thought it would be fun to show my guests the PC Windows 8 interface as well!
On the day of the party, all my guests came with either their smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and everyone was excited to see and try out the Windows Phone 8X by HTC! I passed around the phone while everyone was getting settled in and signing on to my parents’ WiFi network, which took quite a bit of time! The speed of the internet slowed down drastically due to the sheer number of people accessing our internet, and it also started to randomly disconnect at times, which became the most problematic part of the event! It definitely complicated things during the Pinterest Challenge! But my guests and I took this all in good stride, and we were able to laugh and jokingly complain about it throughout the party!
After everyone had had a chance to check out the features on the Windows 8X Phone by HTC and signed on to the WiFi network, I introduced the party more formally by describing my membership in Crowdtap, what the party was all about, and what we were going to be doing! Since I had twelve guests (not including myself or my parents), I asked if they wanted to pair up for the Pinterest Challenge or compete individually. Even though I told them that there were prizes at the end, which they would have to invariably “share” if they paired up, all my guests wanted to work in teams! So I created a board on a joint Pinterest page (which we would all access and post to during the challenge) for each pair/team.
Then I proceeded to describe and demonstrate how to use Pinterest. Most of my guests picked up the concept quickly, and everyone was excited to start the challenge! Since there were 8 tasks total for the challenge, and each task had its associated “hashtag” reference that the guests had to include in their pin caption, I had obtained a large white tablet to write out the individual hashtags that each task necessitated to make them easier to track! Unfortunately, the white tablet would not stand up properly by itself, and we had no way to hang it anywhere, so my father generously volunteered to hold it up throughout the challenge! Needless to say, his arms were tired by the end of the party!
The challenge was exciting but not without its problems! Like I said earlier, the largest issue was the slow and sporadic internet connection, which “kicked” people off while they were trying to upload or submit a pin for each task! Because the internet was so slow, the challenge ended up taking longer than I had expected, and it required a lot more “effort” than any of us had imagined. But it was fun “work”, and everyone laughed about the frustrations!
Halfway through the Pinterest Challenge, we elected to take a “refreshments break”. Everyone was famished because the Pinterest Challenge was so involved, and they all rushed to enjoy the treats! Because all my guests were so hungry, I actually couldn’t get a photo of the food before each dish was already partly devoured! But it was a great energy-booster, and everyone returned to finish the Pinterest Challenge with renewed vitality!
At the end of the Pinterest Challenge, I decided the best way to choose the three winners (or rather, three winning teams) was for each guest to vote. The rule was that each individual would get two votes total, and no one could vote for his/her own team. They all agreed we could be mature enough to have an open-vote, so I reviewed each team’s board on the television display for all guests to see, and then called out each team number while the guests raised their hands to vote for their favorite choices.
We had one clear winner (with 7 votes) and a tie for second/third (6 votes)! Each team/pair received a Verizon Swagbag and everyone was excited to see what was inside! In the rush to view the prizes and the craziness afterwards, I neglected to get a photo of the opened Swagbags. But each bag contained a clear Verizon VIP tumbler with a curly straw, a Verizon-inscribed flash drive, and a nice glass-photo coaster set with a pretty wooden holder! The pairs that won each divided their Swagbag prizes among themselves, except for Jeremy and Connie, who are husband and wife and got to keep the whole Swagbag (and prizes) for themselves!
I also described the separate Bonus Offer from Verizon that my guests were encouraged to enter. The Bonus Offer consists of tweeting (on Twitter) a photo from the Pinterest board that the guests created during the party, and Verizon would choose ten winners in March, after all nationwide Windows 8 parties were concluded, to receive a brand new Windows Phone 8X by HTC! Several guests were very interested in this opportunity, and they all agreed that the Windows Phone 8X seemed like a great new device!
So overall, even though we had our fair share of headaches from the slow and erratic internet connection, everyone felt that they learned a lot about the Windows Phone 8X, enjoyed delicious food and good company, and had a fun and exciting time competing during the Pinterest Challenge! Even though there were only three “official” winning teams from the Pinterest Challenge, everyone felt like a winner, and all the guests thanked me for having them over for the party! So THANK YOU Crowdtap and Verizon for giving me this wonderful opportunity! It was an enjoyable experience that created many delightful, lasting memories!
And many thanks must be extended to my parents! They opened up their home to me, and also helped out tremendously in the preparation and execution of the party! It couldn’t have been a success without them!